It’s March and I’m participating in the Reading Ireland Month for 2019. This one is historical fiction by popularly acclaimed author Jean Grainger. Jean is a USA Today Bestselling Author and was selected by BookBub readers in the top 19 of historical fiction books AND is the winner of the 2016 Author’s Circle Historical Novel of Excellence.
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, British and Irish
Print Length: 289 pages
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
- ASIN: B07NVN3G7L
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: Return to Robinswood
One Irish house, two very different families, and a war that changed everything.
Robinswood Estate, County Waterford, Ireland. 1946.
Years of neglect and abandonment have left the family seat of the Keneficks almost derelict, but the new Lord Kenefick and his charming young wife Kate, are determined to breathe life into the old house once more.
The war is over and they have survived, so now they must set about making a bright future for themselves and their family. But the shadows of the past are ever lurking, and there are many who are not willing to see the new Lady Kenefick as anything more than the housekeeper’s daughter.
Kate’s family, the Murphys, find themselves once more, inextricably entwined with both the Keneficks and Robinswood, but this time everything is different. Or at least they hope it is.
The legacy of the war cannot be erased, and the events of those fateful years will not be forgotten. Can Robinswood provide a haven for those who need it, or are the scars of the past too deep?
Jean Grainger’s books are nothing if not a thoroughly complex study in the lives of a sympathetic, endearing family under extreme duress, grave conditions, and in which you become inexplicably entangled.
How the author handles her characters, alternately with compassion, commiseration, or empathy is what catapults her into winning author status. There may be no clear specific protagonist in Return to Robinswood. Several of the characters share main level status and the storyline alternately moves from one to the next, creating a convergent timeline. I fell in love with Peter, his kindness and consideration equal to none other.
It is 1946 and these are the Murphy and Kenefick families, an intricate story of two families connected by a house but by very different social levels. It’s the upheaval of war, the inevitable changes, and the search for a sense of normality that unite them post-war that begins to cement a solid base of love and security.
Between the two families, the cast of characters is huge. Perhaps a Playbill would help. There is Dermont Murphy and his wife Isabella with their daughter Eve. Elena, Eve’s friend, still does not know about her husband Thomas. Eve’s husband Jack died, and after six years, her grief is beginning to relax the stranglehold. The Murphy’s other daughter, Katie, had married Sam Kenefick. Actually, Lord Kenefick, for whom the Murphy’s had worked prior to the war. Katie and Sam want to return to Robinswood and have ideas on farming as well as turning it into a hotel. Another daughter, Aisling, has a husband who returned home, but exhibits signs of PTSD.
On the Kenefick side, Sam’s father died, but his mother married Perry Goodall. Sam’s sister Lillian had an affair with a man of color, Beau, during the war. He was not allowed to marry in the UK and returned home, unaware of the child their affair would produce. There is tremendous prejudice against the union, more so in his own country.
There are more support characters who all create a massively entertaining read, one which is difficult to put down as you must know how each problem will be resolved. So many issues looked at in this book, from PTSD, unwed pregnancy, the Irish conflict, the Travellers, WWI and II ravages, agronomy, and human history with extreme prejudice and discrimination. Descriptions of post-war Ireland and England are well drawn and that of the southern states of the U.S. intensely disturbing, though correctly and unfortunately all too accurately portrayed. Robinswood was left ravaged during the war and will require a lot of labor, love, money, and time to right.
Character-driven, this well-plotted storyline is electrifying, immersing the reader in some amazing, engaging characters whether empathetic or annoying. You might well wish to begin with the first in this series to fully understand where this book begins. The narrative, however, functions fine as a standalone. No blanks really. Just a more complete picture.
I received this ebook download from the author in exchange for a read and review and these are my honest opinions. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Grainger’s books and suspect you will as well. Heartily recommended.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars
The Author: Jean Grainger
Hello and thanks for taking time out to check out my page. If you’re wondering what you’re getting with my books then think of the late great Maeve Binchy but sometimes with a historical twist. I was born in Cork, Ireland in 1971 and I come from a large family of storytellers, so much so that we had to have ‘The Talking Spoon’, only the person holding the spoon could talk!
I have worked as a history lecturer at University, a teacher of English, History and Drama in secondary school, a playwright, and a tour guide of my beloved Ireland. I am married to the lovely Diarmuid and we have four children. We live in a 150 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world’s smallest dog, a chi-chon called Scrappy-Do.
My experiences leading groups, mainly from the United States, led me to write my first novel, ‘The Tour.’ The sequel to The Tour, called Safe at the Edge of the World, follows Conor O’Shea once again as he takes another motley crew on a tour of Ireland. This time with a very odd couple aboard who seem to be hiding something. The third Tour book in that series is called The Story of Grenville King and in it Conor gets an opportunity to renovate and run an old castle as a five star resort, but something isn’t quite right, and the castle has many secrets. The fourth Conor O’Shea book is called The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary and features a group of friends taking their friend Bubbles home to Ireland from New York, on last time.
My first World War 2 novel, ‘So Much Owed’ is a family saga based in Ireland following the Buckley family of Dunderrig House. I released a second WW2 book, called ‘What Once Was True’ earlier this year and so far people seem to really like it. Its set in a big old house, and based on the lives of the two families that live there, The Keneficks that own it and the Murphys that work for them.
Shadow of a Century is set in New York in 2015 as well as in Dublin during the events of Easter Week 1916, where Irish men and women fought valiantly to rid our island of British Imperialism.
Under Heaven’s Shining Stars, was published in 2016 and is set in my home city of Cork. This time its against the backdrop of 1950s and 60s Ireland and it really is a book about friendship, family and the Catholic church. I have a deep personal affinity with all of my characters but this book is especially close to my heart.
I wrote a novella called Letters of Freedom after hearing a woman on the radio one day explaining how being raised in state care prepared a person so poorly for the realities of independent living. Her story was so moving I was inspired to write a short novella there and then.
My next book, What Once Was True, tells the story of a big old house in Co Waterford during WW2. Two families live there, the impoverished Keneficks who own it and the hard-working Murphys who work for them. Life has remained unchanged for centuries but when war comes, it means everything changes and people have to question what once was true. This book was selected by Bookbub readers as in the top 19 Historical Fiction books of 2018. The sequel to this, Return to Robinswood, continues the story.
Many of the people who have reviewed my books have said that you get to know the characters and really become attached to them, that’s wonderful for me to hear because that’s how I feel about them too…If you buy one of my books I’m very grateful and I really hope you enjoy it. If you do, or even if you don’t, please take the time to post a review. Writing is a source of constant contentment to me and I am so fortunate to have the time and the inclination to do it, but to read a review written by a reader really does make my day.
[Bio truncated in the interest of space but contains a wealth of information about her books. Please read her complete bio on her Amazon author page.]
©2019 V Williams