Thanks to Evelyn for sending me this book to review.

I’ve had Ireland by Frank Delaney on my wish list for some time now and therefore when I was offered Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show to review I was quite excited and felt I was in for a treat.

I found the story to be refreshingly different. Set amid the politics of Ireland in the early twentieth century, the plot revolves around Ben McCarthy and his quest to bring his errant father back home to the family farm. This character, Ben, is imbued with warmth, humour and strength – much more strength than that shown by either of his parents. Other characters, King Kelly and his daughter and granddaughter, seem larger than life and I suppose, a book reminiscent of some of the world’s best-loved fables, are meant to be. I’d always thought people like that were a bit scary and this is confirmed by the slightly sinister feel of these people. I’ve known people like King Kelly I’m related to one – so that character hits close to home.

This book is filled with contrasts: Ben, though just eighteen is loyal, persistent, steadfast and strong; his father, Harry is flighty, weak, unfaithful and easily swayed. His mother too is an eerie foil for the beautiful Venetia Kelly. Where one woman behaves ‘above it all’, the other lives in a world closer to earth.

The history and politics of Ireland also play a role in this novel. While the politicians, local and national, are battling it out for power, a ventriloquist’s dummy is giving them a run for their money. Some of the dialogue from this dummy is not so dumb and the author’s clever use of this character adds to the quirkiness of the plot.

I enjoyed this book for many reasons but probably the most was that it was set in Ireland where my grandparents were born. I can still remember my grandmother calming my baby girl by gently uttering the word ‘whisht’ and I was delighted to see that word actually in print (page 77) in this novel. The characters were wonderfully oddball and the story kept me turning the pages. And for all that Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show looks like a large-ish book (at over 400 pages) it was a pretty quick read with most chapters being relatively short.

You can find all sorts of information on Frank Delaney's upcoming author tour on his Facebook fan page here.


Diane on March 18, 2010 at 11:35 AM said...

excellent review. i love the cover and the description of this book. looking forward to it.

bermudaonion on March 18, 2010 at 1:38 PM said...

I just won an audio version of this and I can't wait to get it. Great review!

Staci on March 18, 2010 at 4:51 PM said...

Sounds pretty good...I like interesting characters and there seems to be plenty of them found in this book!

Literary Feline on March 21, 2010 at 4:25 PM said...

I have ancestral ties to Ireland too and so have an interest in just about everything Irish. :-) I haven't read Ireland, but I remember hearing quite a few good things about it. I have this one on my shelf to read and am really looking forward to it, even more so after reading your review.


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