• Under Heaven's Shining Stars

  • By: Jean Grainger
  • Narrated by: Alan Smyth
  • Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (124 ratings)

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Under Heaven's Shining Stars  By  cover art

Under Heaven's Shining Stars

By: Jean Grainger
Narrated by: Alan Smyth
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Publisher's summary

From the author of So Much Owed, winner of Authors Choice Best Historical Fiction Award 2016

One is poor but loved. Another born with a silver spoon. The last has seen too much.

For three young boys, Liam, Patrick, and Hugo, life in Ireland of the 1960s proves to be both idyllic and flawed. Living in close proximity but leading vastly different lives, the bonds of friendship bind these young men as they grow, dream, and navigate the storms of youth.

In a world where the Catholic Church is a looming and pervasive presence, the dreamy ideal of childhood is staunchly contrasted against the backdrop of suffering and darkness in the lives of these three boys. Will their friendship be enough to weather the gale? Or will their separate struggles tear them apart?

In Under Heaven's Shining Stars, author Jean Grainger brings to life the struggles and simplicity that often go hand in hand with growing up. Experience the gambit of emotion as you witness the journey of Liam, Patrick, and Hugo as they face the beauty, turmoil, and endless possibilities of life under the turbulent Irish sky.

©2016 Jean Grainger (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Under Heaven's Shining Stars

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A Modern Irish Catholic Tale

I have really enjoyed Author Jean Grainger’s historic WWII novels and was pleasantly surprised with Heaven’s Shining Stars, that is a new style (to me). A story about relationships of young lads brought together in Cork during the 1970’s. Instead of the historical significance this novel focused on the characters and the challenging cultural changes in the 70’s. Alan Smyth’’s Irish brogue helped make the tale all that much more enjoyable. Grainger did a commendable job with character development and interweaving the lives of the three main characters. I physically reacted to their plights and was actually rooting for a good turnout for each one of the boys plights. (I also was impressed with myself for being totally open and non judgmental). This may have been my favorite Grainger book yet.

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4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Little Bit of Ireland

Alan Smyth, the narrator, makes this story of 3 best friends come to life! The boys grow up in and around the
Catholic boys school in Cork, two locals boys and one a future lord. So different, and yet they build a network of
brotherhood which will sustain them through the good times and the bad. Such a good read you won't want it to end.
I didn't.

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Nice Story

Enjoyed the male narrator ... a nice change from the usual voices.

I like that the story flowed with happy/sad/happy scenes and was not just an ongoing depressing/heartbreaking tale. Wished all the story lines had not been wrapped up so neatly in the end.

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2 people found this helpful

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The Good Times and Bad Times

Another story that I couldn't put down. This story of 3 boys and their good times and their bad times conveyed the devotion of best friends . The story hit on many issues and how the 3 boys dealt them.
The narrator was great and you were drawn into the story feeling the emotions that the characters felt.

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faith, hope and love.

l loved this book and struggled along with the characters on the 'moral' issues.
this book provided us all with a very honest resolution, Love.

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WONDERFUL STORY OF LASTING FRIENDSHIP…

It took a while for the story to get to a point where I felt I was really engaged in the story, but I’m glad I stuck with it. It seemed like too much time was spent on the first boy, Liam, his family and their story. It wasn’t until the other two boys, Patrick and Hugh, had finally been introduced that the story was coming together and things really got interesting. But again, it was worth hanging in there for.

All three boys, in their own way, had it tough. Oddly enough, Hugh, the rich kid with all the fancy trappings at home, had it the hardest. Liam and Patrick had very little in the way of money or material goods, but at least when they won their scholarships to boarding school, they had each other. Hugh arrived there, scared and alone. Once he became fast friends with Liam and Patrick, life became easier — for a while. Until things happened that he couldn’t confide even to his two best friends.

For all his wealth, his big mansion, his horses, his title, Hugh wanted what Liam and Patrick had — a “normal” life. He wasn’t at all stuck up about his position in life. He was just Hugh. He started going home with Liam on the weekends and soon became just “one of the family.” The horrors and trials of boarding school eventually behind them, their friendship carried on into their adulthoods. They were there for one another through all the good and the bad, and there was plenty of both.

Father Aquinas soon became one of my favorite characters. He played a big part in the lives of the boys from the time they were young and continued into their adulthoods. He was there for all three of them when they seemingly had no where else to go, no one else they could trust or rely on. The Father was a true friend to them.

I was truly disappointed the Priest who was principal of the boarding school was allowed to abuse his position in so many ways, ESPECIALLY in regard to Hugh, and he was never made to answer for his behavior, nor punished. For the sake of the other students who were being abused in the same way, and of students yet to come who would have become victims, this priest SHOULD have been brought to justice. As an adult, one with power, a title and plenty of money, despite any embarrassment to himself, Hugh was in a position to stop him, especially if he had stop to think about the fact that it would have saved other children from suffering what he had at the hands of this awful person. This same priest never missed an opportunity to verbally abuse or call attention to the fact that Patrick and Liam were there on scholarship — their families weren’t wealthy enough to afford to send the boys there without the benevolence of the Church. He cared not at all about the fact that the boys had to work extremely hard to EARN the marks to win the scholarships.

I also felt there was FAR TOO MUCH time and emphasis on Hugh’s homosexuality. It was almost 1980 by the end of the story. This certainly wasn’t a novel concept by then. From reading other reviews of not only this book, but of reviews of other books by this author, this seems to be a recurrent theme with her. While I enjoyed this book by her, for me, this obsession took away from the rest of the story. For me, there is no problem with it being a PART of the story; there was just too much emphasis and space in the book placed upon it. No one places that much time and attention stressing that characters are “straight” and focuses on it incessantly. (In case you might be wondering if I am complaining because I am gay, I am not, which makes me wonder how this part of the book must make others who ARE gay feel — it implies that there is something wrong that requires “fixing”). Thankfully, Hugh has two staunch friends (one who eventually becomes a priest) who sees the PERSON first and everything else as just PART of that person, not the whole. They stand by him, support him and love him anyway. They encourage Hugh to just be Hugh. That kind of friendship can be hard to find. I’m glad that after all Hugh had endured, his reward was this friendship with Patrick and Liam.

Will I read more by Jean Grainger? Yes, with careful selection. I read “Sisters of the Southern Cross” and LOVED it. I’m sure she has written others I will love as well. But, because of the two complaints I had, I felt the need to deduct one star.

I will finish with a huge compliment to the narrator. He added immensely to the story. I was so happy to find it wasn’t a female attempting (badly) to pretend to be male. I loved the narrator’s accent! He truly made the novel come alive. I hope he is narrating more of Ms. Grainger’s books — I will be looking for him!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Don’t miss this gem!

I love Jean Grainger’s stories and this was no exception. Her characters wrestle with the big questions in life while at the same time making the reader laugh out loud and then cry along with them. Great characters, lovely story.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful should as life can be and as life could be.

I enjoyed every moment of this story, through tears of sorrow and of joy. The ebbs of life at its worst and finally at its best; though perhaps all might not agree.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Took a bit to get there

I’ve read a number of Jean‘s other books and have thoroughly enjoyed each of them. Well I did enjoy this one I have to admit it took me more than a few chapters to really get into the story as it seem to be a bit roundabout to start. Some of the voices that the narrator does were a little offputting for example Hugo often sounds like Stewie from Family Guy but overall it was a good performance.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • MB
  • 05-21-22

The worst narrator!

I read the reviews about how terrible the narrator was, but I love Jean Grainger’s books and thought I would be able to ignore the terrible voice and just listen to the story. I was so wrong. I had to stop by 30 minutes in. The accent is laughable and the narrator is so bad it is truly distracting. Believe the reviews and skip this one.

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