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20 April 2010

Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney : A Book Review

Title: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show
Author: Frank Delaney
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 23, 2010
Hardcover: 448 pages
ISBN: 978-0061849275
Genre: Historical Fiction


About the Book:

“She sprang from the womb and waved to the crowd. Then smiled and took a bow.” And so we first meet Venetia Kelly, the beguiling actress at the center of this new, spellbinding, and epic novel by Frank Delaney, the bestselling author of Ireland and Shannon.

January 1932: While Ireland roils in the run-up to the most important national election in the Republic’s short history, Ben MacCarthy and his father watch a vagabond variety revue making a stop in the Irish countryside. After a two-hour kaleidoscope of low comedy, Shakespearean recitations, juggling, tumbling, and other entertainments, Ben’s father, mesmerized by Venetia Kelly, the troupe’s magnetic headliner, makes a fateful decision: to abandon his family and set off on the road with Miss Kelly and her caravan. Ben’s mother, shattered by the desertion, exhorts, “Find him and bring him back,” thereby sending the boy on a Homeric voyage into manhood, a quest that traverses the churning currents of Ireland’s fractious society and splinters the MacCarthy family.

Interweaving historical figures including W. B. Yeats, and a host of unforgettable creations—“King” Kelly, Venetia’s violent, Mephistophelean grandfather; Sarah Kelly, Venetia’s mysterious, amoral mother; and even a truth-telling ventriloquist’s dummy named Blarney—Frank Delaney unfurls a splendid narrative that spans half the world and a tumultuous, eventful decade.

Teeming with intrigue, pathos, and humor, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show explores two of Ireland’s great national passions: theater and politics. Writing with his signature mastery and lyrical prose, Frank Delaney once again delivers an unforgettable story as big and boisterous as the people and events it chronicles.

My Review:

Imagine yourself settling in with your favourite beverage and listening to a longtime acquaintance recalling a pivotal tale from his past. Such is the manner Frank Delaney tells the story of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show. The narrator tells the tale of an 18-year-old boy in the rather turbulent times in Ireland in 1932-33, yet the tale is not told straight from the 18-year-old, but rather from a much older man telling the tale of his youth. In a masterful way, Delaney commands the reader's attention with his delightful manner of recounting a tale, at times true, and at other times whimsical. The cast of characters in this narrative are explained to the reader from the beginning and brought to life by the narrator, Ben MacCarthy. Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show offers something for everyone, an eccentric cast of characters, political unrest and turmoil leading up to a contentious election, digressions, death, betrayal and beautifully narrated scenes aimed to bring this magical period to life. Delaney weaves together an entertainingly long and delightfully ramblingly tale, much like the hills of Ireland, mixing in an eccentric cast with a story so unbelievable it often becomes difficult to distinguish fancy from fantasy, yet all the while keeping the reader's rapt attention from the very beginning until the last sentence is read. High marks all around for Frank Delaney's novel, Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, guaranteed to capture the hearts and minds of the readers. Book groups looking for an intriguing and captivating novel to read would do well to choose Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show.

About the Author:

Frank Delaney is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels “Ireland,” “Tipperary,” as well as “Simple Courage: The Story of S.S. Flying Enterprise,” which was named one of the 10 best books of 2006 by the American Library Association. His novel “Shannon” (Random House, March 2009) tells the story of a young and once-brilliant American chaplain, shell-shocked in World War One, who travels in search of his family roots. His next book, “Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show,” will be released February 2010. A former judge of the Booker Prize, Delaney enjoyed a prominent career in BBC broadcasting before becoming a full-time writer. He was born in Tipperary, Ireland, and now lives in New York and Connecticut with his wife, Diane Meier.

Follow the book tour.

I received a complimentary copy of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the novel. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



Adelaide Dupont said...

Oh wow!

Five solid cups of comfort for this one.

(Pretty jazzed up!)

fredamans said...

Great review!

This is going on my wish list, as I know would enjoy it!

LisaMM said...

YAY! I'm so happy you enjoyed Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show! Thanks so much for being on the tour.

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Very interesting premise. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

Bill ;-)

Hope you'll check out my book giveaway: