A Will to Survive – “The Emerald Horizon” by Jean Grainger

Imagine hiding in an attic, unable to stand upright, staying totally silent and unmoving all night, every night, for four long years. Ariella Bannon was able to endure the unendurable because she knew her two children were safe in Ireland. She hadn’t been able to get out before Berlin fell to the Nazis but a German woman had provided refuge in her attic until the Allied bombing was so intense she had to turn her out. Ariella had survived this long and she was determined to be reunited with her two children, Leisl and Erich. Because of her red hair, she didn’t “look” Jewish and she was able to freely move about the city even though it was still very dangerous. She found temporary shelter in a Catholic church but if she stayed, she would be endangering the life of the priest because there was a local woman who was notorious for reporting on Jews with fake Aryan IDs. Ariella feared that someone would betray her to the Gestapo but she was determined to make it through and somehow get to Ireland and again be able to hug Leisl and Erich.

With Spirit to Spare

Children are resilient and Leisl and Erich had settled into a normal routine in their home in Ballycreggan Ireland, with Elizabeth and Daniel as their adoptive parents. Although they had occasional periods of doubt, they never completely lost hope that their mother was still alive. Until her last letter arrived. It was frightening yet still inconclusive. Was she able to get out of Berlin in time?

“The Emerald Horizon” is Jean Grainger’s second book in The Star and the Shamrock series and focuses on Ariella Bannon’s indomitable spirit. Even the indignities she endured are no match for her perseverance to survive and be reunited with her children and to express her undying gratitude to Elizabeth for loving them and keeping them safe.

As good as the first book is, this one is better yet. Grainger’s prose breathes life into her characters and her descriptions of war- ravaged Berlin are so crisp you can readily picture the bombed out buildings with rubble everywhere and vacant windows staring back at you. What really stands out though is Ariella’s spirit and her will to survive, never letting go of her humanity even in her most desperate hours. I can’t remember the last book that brought me to tears but “The Emerald Horizon” did. Five stars.

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