Resilience of Spirit – “The Hard Way Home” by Jean Grainger

In 1950 Liesl Bannon is at university in Dublin, majoring in International Relations with minors in French and German. Always a good student, she is chosen to represent her school at an international debate being held in Germany. Liesl has mixed feelings about returning to Berlin but decides to make the most of the opportunity.


During the debate Liesl recognizes an old family friend and they rekindle their acquaintance, although much of her pre-war memories have been suppressed. Kurt lost his family in the war and everything he owned but he is charming and attentive. Liesl is sympathetic and caring and perhaps too quickly, they declare their love for each other. But Liesl must return to Ireland, hoping Kurt can secure the necessary papers for international travel. On her way home Liesl worries that he may not feel comfortable with her family and friends. Surely that won’t be a problem in her adopted home of Ballycreggan. Will it?

“The Hard Way Home” is Jean Grainger’s third book in ‘The Star and the Shamrock’ series and it gives us a long hard look at post-war Berlin and the range of attitudes about survivors and refugees. But more importantly it focuses on the tenacity and faith of the human spirit.

I’m speaking of the spirit that helps people survive the horrors of war and serves as a testament to their spirit of faith. In this third book Grainger revisits many of the people who touched the lives of Liesl, Erich, Ariella, Elizabeth and Daniel. Their actions bolster one’s faith in humanity and a belief in rational beings who willingly help others in a time of need, with no expectation of payment or recompense. Despite the existence of ugliness and injustice in the world, the language of the heart extends beyond the conscious mind and guides us like a beacon. That’s a powerful takeaway from an historical tale dealing with post WWII. Four stars.

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