This is me–a blubbering mess–and you know I don’t easily admit to tears from reading a book.
Five of Five Stars
Robinswood Estate, County Waterford, 1950
Three sisters, the three men that love them, and a house that could consume them all.
Assuming their roles as the new Lord and Lady Kenefick and returning to Robinswood with the plan to drag it back from the brink of dereliction, is taking its toll on Kate and Sam. With a young family to raise, a very limited budget and only Kate’s parents to help, the task seems insurmountable.
Kate’s eldest sister Eve and her husband Bartley have found happiness in each other after some dark years, but when a face from the past appears, it seems that everything they have worked so hard to create is threatened.
Aisling, the middle sister, is being evasive and the family suspect something is very wrong. On the face of it, she has it all, a lovely husband, a comfortable house and a supportive family, but she is in deep trouble, and nobody can even guess at the real reason why.
Meanwhile Lady Lillian, Sam’s sister, is useless and arrogant, refusing to accept that things have changed and that her title is not going to get her what she wants, least of all from her husband Beau.
In the midst of it all Dermot and Isabella Murphy try their best to maintain a life and a home for their family, but the trials and tribulations of life at Robinswood might just tear them all apart. .
Ms. Grainger has exceeded herself as the supreme storyteller of the Irish, whether or not she’s ever kissed the Blarney Stone, which btw, as I understand it, is not all that far from Cork, from whence she hails. This book grabs you from the beginning and takes you through highs and lows ending in a thrilling conclusion containing not one but two twists that take your breath away.
It’s easy to love these characters, all hard-working, driven, and pulling together to make a success of Robinswood. What’s not to love? The writing style is easy, descriptive, and sensitive, wrenching from even the hardened reviewer emotive sighs. The continuation of the story of the Kenefick and Murphy families (and their reversal of roles) drives this well-plotted domestic drama.
There is a lot going on in this one and I wish I could skim without spoilers, but this is one you have to read for yourself to appreciate. Kate (the wife of Sam), while the youngest of the three (Murphy) sisters, seem to have taken on the job of coordinating the management and has fallen severely short of manpower with the illness of her mother that also affects her dad. She is at her wits end, needs help, and sending up distress signals hasn’t seemed to work. Lady Lillian (and the former lady of the manor), is still more liability than asset. “Lillian was as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike…”
There are guests to attend, meals to prepare, fields, animals, and outhouses to convert to much-needed labor housing. (In America we use that term for a structure meant to describe a relief station with no plumbing.) Eve’s husband Bartley, who is a seventh son of a seventh son and a former traveller (or tinker) is working with Beau (Lillian’s husband), and Mark (Aisley’s husband). There is a complex layer of little side dramas, pregnancies, and conflicts. One of the conflicts becomes deadly and leads to another whole drama affecting the entire tribe.
Character and locale driven, this storyline is immersive, including engaging characters you come to care about, 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 can function fine as a standalone with simple references to a previous relationship. Grainger invokes some fine Irish humor and the dialogue is natural. The evolution of Lillian was one I didn’t expect, and I LOVED the conclusion. While I had a suspicion of the final twist, it was the journey to that moment that had you holding your breath in disbelief. Okay, Ms. Grainger, you put one over on us and I know you are very busy snickering about it. I loved the new character Hannah, my heart ached for Bartley, and soared with Beau.
I was given this digital download as an advance to those special few in hopes of a review and these are my own opinions. This is the best one yet; could also have been titled tragedy and triumph. Highly recommended. You can’t go wrong here, folks. Trust me.
Genre: 20th Century Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Irish Fiction
Print Length: 331 pages
Publication Date: To be released October 1, 2019
Source: Author Request
Title Link: Trials and Tribulations
The 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…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. The story opens in the trenches of WW1 at the end of the war and moves to tranquil West Cork. As the next generation of the Buckley family find themselves embroiled once again in war, the action moves from Ireland to wartime Belfast, from occupied France to the inner sanctum of German society in neutral Dublin. The history of the period was my academic specialty so I’m delighted to be able to use it in a work of fiction.
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. While not my academic specialty, I loved researching this book. My husband, most fortunately for me is an expert on this era and so I didn’t have to go too far for assistance. The story features three very strong women, united through a battered old flag. Its essentially a love story, but with a bit of intrigue thrown in for good measure.
Under Heaven’s Shining Stars, was published in 2016 and is set in my home city of Cork. 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. (See my review here.)
My latest book, The Star and the Shamrock is about two little German Jewish children who find themselves on the Kindertransport out of Berlin. They end up in Northern Ireland and it was a real labour of love. The research was harrowing at times, but I hope I’ve done justice to the stories of so many children who escaped the Nazi terror, often never again to see their parents. This is a book of hope in dark times, of the enduring power of love and the incredible resilience of the human spirit.
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.
***Truncated in the interest of space–please see her entire bio here.
Cartoon outhouse attribution: clipartmag.com (Thank you)
©2019 V Williams