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‘They didn’t stare at my bandages or wig’ – Zoe Holohan on the kindness of strangers after honeymoon tragedy

On July 23, 2018, in the seaside town of Mati in Greece, Zoe Holohan and her husband of four days, Brian Westropp O’Callaghan, were enjoying the beginning of their honeymoon. Then disaster struck. Unprecedented wildfires swept across the area, killing 102 people. Zoe and Brian fled their villa, chased by the flames, running for their lives. Ultimately Zoe was one of the few survivors from the area, having been miraculously rescued from the boot of a burning car just seconds from death. She suffered severe burns all over her face and body, and her beloved husband Brian lost his life before her eyes. In her remarkable book, Zoe reveals the emotional journey of grappling with the loss of her true love and partner, learning how to walk, talk and use her limbs again, and a future facing PTSD and a heavily scarred body. As the Smoke Clears is a deeply personal journey through a life-altering year.

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Soul mates: Zoe Holohan and Brian O’Callaghan Westropp on their wedding day in 2018

Soul mates: Zoe Holohan and Brian O’Callaghan Westropp on their wedding day in 2018

Soul mates: Zoe Holohan and Brian O’Callaghan Westropp on their wedding day in 2018

The Kindness of Strangers

A stone’s throw from home, my local SuperValu store is where I’ve always done most of my grocery shopping.


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