Last Port of Call: The Queenstown Series by Jean Grainger – #BookReview – Historical Irish Fiction #readingirelandmonth21

Last Port of Call by Jean Grainer

#1 Best Seller Historical Irish Fiction 

Book Blurb:

Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland
April 1912

Twelve-year-old Harp Delaney is an unusual child, quiet and intelligent far beyond her years. She would rather spend her days in the library of the grand Georgian house that she sees as her home than playing on the streets with other children.

Her mother, Rose, is the reserved and ladylike housekeeper at the Cliff House. The local women envy her grace and poise while the men admire her beauty. She behaves not as a servant should, but as someone who belongs at the ancestral home of eccentric loner Henry Devereaux.

Nobody ever visits the Cliff House, but Harp, Rose and Henry have a happy life together, each accepting the idiosyncrasies of the others.

The day Titanic sails from Queenstown, taking with it the hopes and dreams of so many, Harp’s life too is devastated. The small port town is shaken to its foundations at the loss of the unsinkable ship, but the revelation of a long-held secret means that Harp and Rose have a much more pressing issue to solve, one that could destroy them if they cannot find a solution.

Unexpectedly, fate takes a hand, and mother and daughter find themselves thrown a lifeline, one that inextricably links them to the stories of men, women and children for whom Queenstown was the last-ever sight of Ireland as they sailed away to new lands and new lives.

Last Port of Call is the first book in The Queenstown Series.

My Review:

Those of you who have a problem reading a book in the middle of the series should be delighted to learn that this is the first in a new series by the masterful Irish storyteller Jean Grainger. Now is your chance to get in on the bottom rung—don’t say I didn’t warn you as this is already a #1 Best Seller on Amazon. There is a reason for that.

Last Port of Call by Jean GraingerThe author delights in describing her Ireland, the people, the culture, and its famous landmarks and it shows in her prose. While I must admit that the first portion of this book begins slow and includes some repetition, there is the full fleshing of Rose, the housekeeper and her 12 year old daughter, Harp, as well as the explanation of their occupancy of the grand Georgian mansion known as Cliff House. The multi-story mansion sits high above the Queenstown Bay and the entire harbor commanding a magnificent view. It is the last port of call for the Titanic (of the White Star line) before she leaves on the fateful journey that still creates chills more than a century after sinking.

The story of Harp and Rose is described as they care for the aging owner, Henry Devereaux, and the shock of his passing. Henry, a benevolent eccentric leaves the decaying mansion to Harp with whom he’d enjoyed a very unusual relationship. Along the way, we learn fascinating new tidbits about the land (fairy ring forts, castles, and Phoenicians).

Saved from being turned out into the street, they must now devise a way to stay in the old house. And then Rose has an idea. She and Harp will open a guest house. Their first guests are comprised of a wide variety of Irish, each with a story of their own, and as we get to know each individual, invest in their hopes and dreams.

The stories are immersive, gentle or suspect, and pull at the emotions. Somehow, the author manages a perfect resolution for each. However, there is one thread introduced early that is not revisited until the conclusion resulting in a cliff hanger (!). Book #2 of the series is scheduled for release the third week of May, 2021.

“…speculation based on no information whatsoever was pointless.”

I have read many books written by this prolific author, some prior to posting reviews, several as standalones, some in series: Robinswood, The Tour, and the Conor O’Shea series. I considered many were five star novels, including The Star and the Shamrock, Return to Robinswood, Trials and Tribulations, and The Homecoming of Bubbles O’Leary. Her characters are always engaging and relatable, the stories entertaining, and most unique in their plots and pacing. This is a great start to a new series. In for a penny, in for a pound. (Or is it ha’penny?) If you missed Ms Grainger’s Soda Bread recipe, you can find that page here.

Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Historical Irish Fiction, Saga Fiction, Family Saga Fiction

  • ASIN : B08RS885CH
  • ISBN : B08WZJK285

Print Length: 476 pages
Publication Date: February 26, 2021
Source: Direct Purchase
Title: Last Port of Call [Amazon]

 

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR,
SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS,
WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

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’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

Truncated…

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. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. 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.

Find Ms Grainger at her official website or Facebook page.

©2021 V Williams

Finding Billie Romano by Jean Grainger – a #BookReview

Finding Billie Romano by Jean GraingerFinding Billie Romano (The Tour series Book 5) by Jean Grainger

Genre: Literature and Fiction, Irish Fiction, Family Saga Fiction, Jewish Literature & Fiction

  • ISBN-10: 1082061530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1082061530
  • ASIN: B07VKDMWB7

Print Length: 292 pages

Publication Date: July 21, 2019

Source: Direct Author Request

Title Link: Finding Billie Romano

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling author wants to take you to Ireland for a story that will leave you wanting more long after you turn the last page…

Twenty-five year old Billie Romano is struggling. She is grieving the death of her beloved dad and nothing in her life is going right. Her mother has remarried with indecent haste, so when her grandfather presents everyone in the family with a DNA testing kit for fun, Billie couldn’t be less interested in playing happy families.

The test results are shocking, and Billie finds herself caught in a turmoil of emotions as she is faced with a reality she could never have imagined.

Her journey of discovery takes her to Ireland, and to the stunningly beautiful Castle Dysert on the Wild Atlantic Coast, when Conor O’Shea once more steps into the role of fixer of problems and soother of troubled souls. Can Billie make a whole new start or are some cans of worms best left closed? 

My Review:

Finding Billie Romano by Jean GraingerA beautiful entry to The Tour series, each with new support characters but bringing protagonist Conor O’Shea full circle as he had left his tour bus to head the refurbishing of the impressive Castle Dysert. While he is a smaller partner in the facility, it became clear rather quickly that the day-to-day operation of the magnificent hotel would be handled almost solely by Conor. The castle has become an end destination with a whole new experience including fine dining, stables, grounds, and banquet facilities as well as unique and gorgeously appointed suites.

It is no problem then when a very well-to-do American wishes to book rooms for his extended family. There has been a minor behind the scenes shuffle on the receptionist desk owing to unusual circumstances and Conor has plunked Ana, his wife, into the position. Ana had a health issue, which appears to be in remission, and together they have nine-year-old boys. Ana is Ukrainian and immediately identifies with the caller, assuring him his family will be well cared for and that they will even help Billie in her search.

It is Ana who makes the arrangement for the party that would introduce us to Billie Romano and her fascinating link to Ireland. Billie has suffered the loss of her father and is mildly estranged from her mother who recently remarried. There is a tragedy that polarized the family and relationships are strained, but she is bound to follow the lead to Ireland and will do so under conditions not wholly agreeable.

As always with Ms. Grainger’s books, the reader is treated to interesting tidbits regarding Ireland, its people, landscape, and legends. There are always lessons to be learned that seem to satisfy the question in the reader’s mind at the appropriate time.

“All Irish place names make sense if you translate them back to the original language. For example, the prefixes – bally means aile, which is town, kil means church, as in Kilkenny, cloch is a stone, as in Cloughjordan, dun or don is a fort, like Donegal.”

The characters are all richly developed and the descriptions of the countryside so beautiful you’ll be ready to book your airline reservation. You’ll follow the family drama with Billie as she discovers with a shock the family tie that brought her to the Emerald Isle, as well as the drama in the O’Shea home and the possible big marketing-promotion break the castle will receive if a certain rally is booked. There is always so much going on at the Castle Dysert. The conclusion was a perfect resolution on several levels. My only problem is a wealth issue.

I was given an eARC of this novel by the author in the hope of a read and review and was thrilled to receive another. This DNA thing may very well open some chapters people wanted to stay closed or lead to a delightful revelation and this story explores that eventuality. The characters are empathetic and easy to love. Highly recommended.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Jean Grainger - authorThe Author: JEAN GRAINGER, USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR, SELECTED BY BOOKBUB READERS IN TOP 19 OF HISTORICAL FICTION BOOKS, WINNER OF THE 2016 AUTHOR’S CIRCLE HISTORICAL NOVEL OF EXCELLENCE

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’. My observances of the often funny, sometimes sad but always interesting events on tours fascinated me. People really did confide the most extraordinary things, the safety of strangers I suppose. It’s a fictional story set on a tour bus but many of the characters are based on people I met over the years.

(…truncated in the interest of space. Please click the author link to see the full range of her published work.)

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. I grew up on Maeve Binchy and Deirdre Purcell and I aspired to being like them. 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.

©2019 V Williams Blog author