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About 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
'Warm and wise, reading a Jean Grainger novel is like sitting in the kitchen of a friend. Her authentic writing welcomes you into the heart of Ireland.' Kate Kerrigan, NYT Bestselling Author.
'In the same magical tradition as classic Irish storytellers, Maeve Binchy and Frank McCourt, Jean Grainger transports the reader into a world where the characters not only come alive, but become friends, who stay with you long after you've closed the last page. I have no doubt that Jean Grainger will be considered one of the finest historical novelists of our time.' Roberta Kagan, Bestselling author of 'All My Love, Detrick' series.
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 200 year old stone cottage in Mid-Cork with my family and the world's smallest dogs, called Scrappy and Scoobi..
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.
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. The next book is based on a chance conversation with a friend about the reality of DNA testing and the truths it might revel unwittingly. It's called Finding Billie Romano and the sixth book finds Conor and his pals in dire financial straits and the only life line is a reality TV show in the castle, something Conor hates the idea of but needs must!
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.
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. 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.
A book I wrote while travelling with my family for a year in Australia is called Sisters of the Southern Cross and don't forget to read the afterword on that one as to how that story came about, its a tale stranger than fiction in its own right!
I wrote a novel 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.
Carmel's story really seemed to touch people, and I got such a huge reaction from readers all over the world, many of them telling me the most extraordinary stories from their own lives, I wrote a sequel. The Future's Not Ours To See, which follows Carmel as she ventures forth into a world she knows so little of is out now. The third Carmel and Sharif book, What Will be, is also available and it finishes the story of this woman who spent her entire childhood believing something that wasn't true. She returns to Ireland, very reluctantly and discovers that in order to go forward she has to first make peace with her past.
My next series, The Robinswood Story, opens with What Once Was True, and 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 and the final instalment, Trials and Tribulations takes it to it's conclusion.
The Star and the Shamrock, the Emerald Horizon, The Hard Way Home and The World Starts Anew is a series of four books 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.
My current series, The Queenstown Series, centres on twelve year old Harp Devereaux and her mother Rose and the first book opens on the day Titanic sails from Queenstown, Co Cork on her last fateful journey. It is a bestselling series and people really seem to connect to the precocious Harp and her hard-working mother as they battle to survive in a society where conforming and playing by the rules was paramount. It is so far a three book series, The West's Awake, and The Harp and the Rose being the next two books but I'm currently writing book four.
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.
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Titles By Jean Grainger
Kilteegan Bridge, County Cork 1958
For eighteen year old Lena O'Sullivan, life is predictable and dull. A future of hard work, marriage to a local boy, and a family of her own one day is all she has to look forward to. People from her background know not to expect too much, but Lena yearns for something different.
Malachy Berger was different, for him, the world is at his feet. An only child of a wealthy, if peculiar father, a large inheritance, a beautiful house and a fine education are his due.
Nobody is in favour of Lena and Malachy’s friendship, but why not? What harm are they doing? Why is everyone so dead set against it?
Then fate takes a hand, and Lena realises that secrets and lies have bound her and Malachy in an impossible situation. And their future seems determined by events that happened long before they were born.
From rural Ireland to post-war Cardiff, Lena and Malachy’s story winds its way back to wartime Germany and occupied France in a web of deceit that threatens to destroy them both.
Kilteegan Bridge, Ireland 1963.
On the face of it, life is idyllic for Eli and Lena Kogan. Living in their beautiful house in the Irish countryside, their children are growing up happy and safe surrounded by a loving community. So when a letter arrives one day threatening to shatter their peaceful and prosperous world, Lena and Eli have no option but face the dark reality of their situation. How best to do that, is something that drives a wedge between them.
As a Jewish child, escaped from Germany in 1939, Eli is all for letting those dark days where they belong, for him, there’s no future in the past.
But for Lena, it’s different. She knows that the only way she can move her family forward in peace is to first go back, and there is only one man who knows the whole truth.
From rural Ireland to wartime France, What Divides us, tells a tale of loyalty and love, resentment and revenge, that has far reaching consequences for the Kogan family, the unravelling of which might just destroy their future.
The arrival of someone new is always a cause for twitching curtains and whispered conversations.
But here, like everywhere, people have their secrets, and as the local sergeant I’m expected to have my eyes peeled for anything unusual.
And I do.
Until I don’t, and the consequences are potentially fatal.
My twelve-year-old daughter frequently moans that Ballycarrick is the most boring town in Ireland.
Nothing ever happens here.
And as the local police sergeant, this is something I’m delighted about.
I’ve enough to worry about - the polar ice-caps, the evil monster that’s shrinking my trousers, not to mention the hot flushes - without having to be like one of those gritty Netflix cops, chasing criminals down alleyways and busting drug deals.
So, life is calm and fairly predictable.
Until something unthinkable happens in our sleepy backwater.
A crime, but not like anything I've ever seen before.
It's a complete mystery.
And it's up to me to solve it.
For twenty-year-old Harp Devereaux, life should be idyllic. At university, she feels for the first time in her life that she belongs, her mother Rose is running the Cliff House as a successful business, and her childhood sweetheart JohnJoe is by her side, but the storm clouds of war grow ever darker.
For eight hundred years Ireland has made numerous bids for her freedom but now, at last, liberation from British rule is tantalisingly close, if the men and women of the revolution can just hold on.
Harp, her family, and her friends find themselves in the thick of the fight, but the Crown Forces are not the only enemy. A sinister force from the past is lurking and will stop at nothing to exact his revenge.
The Harp and the Rose is the third book in the Queenstown Series.
Ariella Bannon is being hunted. Someone is determined to betray her as a Jew, but she has survived against incredible odds, and the end is in sight. She will be reunited with her precious children, no matter what it takes.
Meanwhile, Liesl and Erich have found a home in Ireland away from the chaos of war-ravaged Europe. As the dark news of what has happened to the Jews filters through, they are torn - love for their mother and their home on one hand, and the profound sense of peace and belonging they have in Ballycreggan on the other. Like all of the other children who escaped Nazi territory on the Kindertransport, they must wait to hear the fate of their loved ones.
For their foster parents, Elizabeth and Daniel, their dearest wish, that Ariella would survive the war, is also their deepest fear. Would her return mean the loss of the children they have come to think of as their own?
As the Third Reich crumbles under relentless Allied bombs, Ariella is careful, but Berlin is a very dangerous place to be, and somebody knows she survived. Can she take one last enormous risk to be reunited with Liesl and Erich or will her betrayer see her finally captured?
The Emerald Horizon is the long awaited sequel to the best-seller, The Star and the Shamrock.
Ariella Bannon has no choice: she must put her precious children, Liesl and Erich, on that train or allow them to become prey for the Nazis.
When her husband doesn’t come home one day, Ariella realises that the only way she can ensure her Jewish children’s safety is to avail of the Kindertransport, but can she bear to let them go?
A thousand miles away, Elizabeth Klein has closed herself off from the world. Losing her husband on the last day of the Great War, and her child months later, she cannot, will not, love again. It hurts too much.
But she is all Liesl and Erich Bannon have.
Thrown together in the wild countryside of Northern Ireland, Elizabeth and the Bannon children discover that life in the country is anything but tranquil. Danger and intrigue lurk everywhere, and some people are not what they seem.
From the streets of wartime Berlin, to the bombed out city of Liverpool, and finally resting in the lush valleys of the Ards Penisula, The Star and The Shamrock from USA Today bestselling author Jean Grainger, is unputdownable.
Sixteen-year-old Harp Devereaux is growing up in a country in turmoil. Her mother Rose is struggling to navigate single parenthood, run the Cliff House, and stay out of the way of the authorities.Harp’s uncle, Ralph Devereaux, has only one thing on his mind.The port of Queenstown bustles with activity as people traverse the Atlantic either in search of new lives on foreign shores or returning to old familiar ones in Ireland. The Cliff House is fast gaining a reputation as a wonderful place to stay, and the business is going from strength to strength. Rose and Harp have turned their fortunes around and for the first time they are prosperous and independent. But all is not well. Civil and military unrest across the country in the wake of the Easter Rising is threatening to bubble over, and everyone is on edge. The British soldiers are making their presence felt in unpleasant ways, and the return of Ralph Devereaux to what he sees as his ancestral home is poses a serious threat.Just as they are managing the situation, a series of unforeseen events places both Harp and her mother in grave peril. Ralph suddenly holds all the power and is not afraid to wield it. They desperately need help, and there’s only one place they can go to get it.From a tense Queenstown to the vibrant Irish community in Boston, from wartime Liverpool, to the streets of Dublin seething with revolution, The West’s Awake continues the spellbinding Queenstown Story.
Liesl Bannon has never felt like she was truly at home anywhere, not since her mother placed her and her brother Erich on the last Kindertransport out of Berlin in 1939. She’d been so much more fortunate than most Jews, saved from the horrors of the Nazi regime. Being adopted by Elizabeth and Daniel Lieber meant she and Erich spent the war in Northern Ireland, safe and loved, but Liesl always knew something was missing.
When an opportunity to return to Berlin to represent her university presents itself, she is so torn. Should she go back to the city that rejected her and her family, would it be too harrowing, or would it feel like home?
In Berlin, a chance encounter with an old family friend sparked emotions for Liesl that she’d suppressed since she was a child. She finds herself desperately wanting to go back to those carefree days before Hitler, when life made sense, but why was her family so set against her return? Was it because they were worried about her as they claimed, or was there a darker, more sinister reason?
The Hard Way Home is the heart wrenching third book in the best-selling Star and the Shamrock series.
Erich Bannon is happy in the small Irish village he has thought of as home since he arrived as a terrified, traumatised seven year old, one of the last Jewish children to escape Berlin in 1939. Now at twenty-three, it feels like all of his friends are drawn to The Promised Land, and he can understand why, but Israel is not for him.
One by one, they leave, and Erich is bereft. He feels lost but a chance encounter with an Irish Catholic girl gives him hope. All he and Róisín want is to be allowed to love each other but the traditions and rules of their backgrounds forbid it. By the time he learns that Róisín wasn’t honest with him about her family, and what kind of people they really are, it is too late and he finds himself unwittingly embroiled in a dangerous world from which there seems to be no escape.
When Róisín disappears, events take a sinister turn and Erich wonders if their relationship really was all he thought it was.. Reluctant to place his family in danger, he has to solve his problems alone, something he’s never had to do before. From rural Ireland, to the glitz of 1950’s America, from the orange groves of Israel to the dark streets of post-war Liverpool, The World Starts Anew, is the fourth book in the best-selling Star and the Shamrock series.
Harp Devereaux is torn. Part of her desperately wants to return to Ireland to finish what she and her family and friends started, and to witness the departure of the British forces from Ireland after eight hundred long years. But the other part finds life in America during the Roaring Twenties too exciting to trade for the sleepy streets of County Cork.
She and JohnJoe are united and determined to sample all that life after the Great War has to offer, but life Stateside is not as free and easy as Harp first imagines and soon she finds herself longing for the simplicity of her homeland.
She wants to live life on her own terms but life is never simple, on either side of the Atlantic, and there are sinister forces at work, determined to bring them all down..
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.