Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney is a coming of age novel set during a tumultuous time in Ireland's history. Set in the early 1930s, Ireland and Britain were in the midst of an economic battle in which farmers refused to keep paying back the loans that enabled them to buy farmland. And Britain consequently began placing tariffs on all Irish goods -- all the while the political system in Ireland was tenuous.
"Of course it was all still being run by politicians. We have an old saying here: 'No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.'" (Page 15)
The narration is conversational in tone as Ben MacCarthy tells his family history, with tales on the side about the political climate of the time. Although he digresses from the main story of his father's disappearance and reappearance with the Venetia Kelly Traveling Show, MacCarthy warns you ahead of time that he often falls off topic, but that most of his stories have some relevance to the main narration. A quirky technique, but enjoyable given that the digressions are entertaining.
"So, throughout this story you can expect three kinds of sidesteps: Important Digression, which will usually be something to do with factual history; Important Digression, where a clarification needs facts and I will ferry them in from a side road; and -- my favorite -- Unimportant Digression, which can be about anything." (Page 10)
Delaney has created a multitude of characters with their own depth and meaning in the story, and there are references throughout to other classic works. He has created an energized menagerie through which readers will see and experience through Ben's eyes as a young man in search of his father and himself. In many ways Ben is like his father, especially as the narration progresses. Readers will find that he is unwinding his story slowly and deliberately, mirroring how his father contains his emotions and his true passions from his family.
"Beside me, my father reacted so hard that he made the bones of his chair creak. He pulled back his hands, tightened them into fists, and held them in front of him like a man containing himself." (Page 79)
The deliberate way in which the story unfolds enables readers to learn more about the MacCarthy family, the Kelly's, and the climate of Ireland at the time. A nation and families stuck between the old traditions and the modern ways of the world, seeking the best path through to the other side. What propels Ben on this journey and what does he learn? Readers will want to pick up a copy of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show to find out.
To enter for 1 signed copy of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show or 1 audiobook narrated by Frank Delaney (US/Canada only):
1. Leave a comment on this post of what you would like to see in Ireland.
2. Leave a comment on my interview with Frank Delaney.
3. Blog, Facebook, Tweet, or spread the word about the giveaway.
Deadline March 1, 2010, at 11:59PM EST.
Frank Delaney was born in Tipperary, Ireland. A career in broadcasting earned him fame across the United Kingdom. A judge for the Booker Prize, several of his nonfiction books were bestsellers in the UK, and he writes frequently for American and British publications. He now lives with his wife, Diane Meier, in New York and Connecticut. Ireland is his first novel to be published in the United States.
This is my 11th book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.
My 1st book for the 2010 Ireland Reading Challenge.
FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney from publicist Leah Paulos and Random House. Clicking on title links or images will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary.