Picking Up the Pieces – “Return to Robinswood” by Jean Grainger

War changes everything, and so it was with post-WWII in Ireland. Everything and everyone was touched in some measure. Lives were lost or changed irrevocably, as were whole communities, properties and perhaps most noticeably, the changes in societal norms. Isabella and Dermot Murphy were back at Robinswood, as were Eve and Aisling. Kate and Sam Kenefick and baby Jack made up the other contingent and notably, none of them was in-service. However, the ravages of time and neglect were reflected in what was left of Robinswood, the Kenefick family home. Dermot and Sam partnered up to make the farm a paying proposition and to repair and eventually restore the old house. As they go about trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and chart their futures, they realize the old ways and attitudes aren’t easily changed. Some of their extended family need more help than the shelter of Robinswood can provide. But it’s as good a place as any to start, and better than most.

Epic Changes

“Return to Robinswood” is Jean Grainger’s second book in The Robinswood Story and as much as I admire her writing style and character development, I didn’t find this book as riveting as the first in the series. All the Murphy girls are paired up and Sam’s mother, Violet is back to her snobbish ways since she remarried into money and his sister Lillian has scandalized the family name.

There’s so much going on that relationships don’t have time to fully develop and that’s a shame because there’s plenty of material to work with. I guess I’m spoiled because character development is a hallmark of Grainger’s writing. Another area where the author’s talent shines is in breathing life into her stories. They’re credible, believable and sometimes gritty in their realism, which is all to the good, but I had difficulty swallowing Lillian’s actions. The idea of a nursing mother leaving her unweaned baby as she goes off to America to find the father of her child, smacks of fantasy. (Any woman reading this will immediately understand the reference.) Not to mention her ensuing escapades, which truly stretch one’s imagination.

All my kvetching aside, “Return to Robinswood” is a heartwarming story and I do admire Jean Grainger’s writing. I’m hopeful about book three, “Trials and Tribulations”. Three and a half stars.

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