Customer Reviews for

The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

An engaging novel

Ben McCarthy is a young man haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his beloved wife, Venetia. Although many suspect she is dead, possibly murdered, Ben searches for answers as to what happened and why. His work as a researcher/writer for the Irish government's folkl...
Ben McCarthy is a young man haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his beloved wife, Venetia. Although many suspect she is dead, possibly murdered, Ben searches for answers as to what happened and why. His work as a researcher/writer for the Irish government's folklore department not only keeps him travelling throughout the country in search of myths and legends, but it provides him with the cover to make his own inquiries about Venetia's disappearance. His travels soon take him to the town of Kenmare to interview a matchmaker named Kate Begley who has recently married Captain Charles Miller, an American, on a secret mission behind enemy lines in war-torn Europe. Known as Killer Miller, before her husband departs on his dangerous mission, he extracts Kate's promise that she would search for him behind enemy lines should he ever turn up missing or become listed as dead.

Meanwhile, an abiding friendship develops between Ben and Kate. When the military notifies Kate of her husband's death, her intuition warns her that her husband is still alive and she convinces Ben to accompany her on a quest that not only spans years, but takes them into the heart of German camps in Europe and across the ocean to America.

The Matchmaker of Kenmare is told in the first person narrative of Ben as he relays the story of his past to his daughters. The voice of Ben is presented with clarity and definition, immediately capturing the reader's interest. The parallel between Ben and Kate's search for their lost loves is a major theme throughout the novel. Their travels sweep readers into lesser known places in Ireland and later into real and eminent danger in other European countries, which provides plenty of tension and a sense of urgency to the story which keeps one engaged to the very end. Although this novel is a sequel to Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, it is not necessary to read the first book in order to enjoy this fabulous tale of romance and mystery and its unforgettable characters.

posted by Mirella on January 25, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

slow

Disappointed. It was difficult to keep reading. Didn't hold my interest. Finally I finished it. The ending was so obvious.

posted by Dayseez on November 4, 2011

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    Terrifically Entertaining--Storytelling at its best

    Ben MacCarthy, who collects stories for the Irish Folklore Commission, and is grieved and troubled by the mysterious disappearance of his wife, Venetia, meets the beautiful Kate Begley, a captivating Irish matchmaker, who finds husbands for lonely women, in neutral World War Two Ireland. He also comes in contact with Charles Miller, a U. S. Army intelligence officer, who soon sends Ben and Kate on a secret assignment to France, to find a German man who has information the Allies desperately want. The two young people succeed in their mission and upon their return Kate marries Charles Miller. But almost immediately D-Day occurs and Charles, while on a dangerous mission to the continent, disappears. He's presumed dead. But Kate, convinced he's still alive, implores Ben to help in finding him. The two travel to war-torn Europe, thinking they'll be safe because as Irish citizens they're neutral, but they're captured by the Germans who are making a last-ditch effort in the Ardennes. Subjected to unspeakable cruelty and barely avoiding execution, they begin to question their own neutrality in the face of such evil. How these two, who have forged a friendship so powerful it seems they belong together, makes for a romantically tense and powerful situation. But there's always the question of what has happened to Venetia, Ben's wife,and is Charles really dead? The result is a book filled with spine-tingling suspense, as well as many myths and stories of beautiful Ireland. A winner!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An engaging novel

    Ben McCarthy is a young man haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his beloved wife, Venetia. Although many suspect she is dead, possibly murdered, Ben searches for answers as to what happened and why. His work as a researcher/writer for the Irish government's folklore department not only keeps him travelling throughout the country in search of myths and legends, but it provides him with the cover to make his own inquiries about Venetia's disappearance. His travels soon take him to the town of Kenmare to interview a matchmaker named Kate Begley who has recently married Captain Charles Miller, an American, on a secret mission behind enemy lines in war-torn Europe. Known as Killer Miller, before her husband departs on his dangerous mission, he extracts Kate's promise that she would search for him behind enemy lines should he ever turn up missing or become listed as dead.

    Meanwhile, an abiding friendship develops between Ben and Kate. When the military notifies Kate of her husband's death, her intuition warns her that her husband is still alive and she convinces Ben to accompany her on a quest that not only spans years, but takes them into the heart of German camps in Europe and across the ocean to America.

    The Matchmaker of Kenmare is told in the first person narrative of Ben as he relays the story of his past to his daughters. The voice of Ben is presented with clarity and definition, immediately capturing the reader's interest. The parallel between Ben and Kate's search for their lost loves is a major theme throughout the novel. Their travels sweep readers into lesser known places in Ireland and later into real and eminent danger in other European countries, which provides plenty of tension and a sense of urgency to the story which keeps one engaged to the very end. Although this novel is a sequel to Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, it is not necessary to read the first book in order to enjoy this fabulous tale of romance and mystery and its unforgettable characters.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2011

    A relaxing read

    I bought this book after hearing an interview with Delaney on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. I was intrigued by the interview and curious about the setting (Ireland where I vacationed last year). I really enjoyed this book. It is an interesting story with parts that are humorous and others that are suspenseful. I found it a nice relaxing read in the evening.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

    slow

    Disappointed. It was difficult to keep reading. Didn't hold my interest. Finally I finished it. The ending was so obvious.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Disapponting

    I have read all of Frank Delaney's fiction, and in particular enjoyed the first book of this saga, Venetia Kelly. It was doubly disappointing that this book is dull.

    The Matchmaker of the title, a young woman named Kate Begley is supposed to be an extraordinary woman who affects the lives of those in her sphere. So we are told, but in the deadly sin of fiction writing, never shown. We are told that she makes happy matches but we don't meet them. Her great love for Charles Miller is asserted time and again but in their encounters, there is no passion or even much interest.

    Finally, the narrator of Venetia Kelly and the narrator here, Ben McCarthy, is drawn into events for no sane reason. We are again told how Kate Begley's "extraordinariness" compels him, but his description of her is simply that of a willful neurotic.

    The book is tedious and unrewarding. If you have not read Delaney, start with "Ireland", then cover "Tipperary" and "Shannon" then plunge into "Venetia Kelly" but don't bother with this. Even if the foreshadowed next book about Venetia is published, you won't have missed anything by not reading this.

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    Excellent novel!

    Great story with romance, history and excellent writing. I think most readers would enjoy this book. It would make a wonderful book club selection.

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  • Posted June 21, 2011

    waste of time

    Have never read a book by this author before. I won't again. Seriously...they come out of a war zone, buy a giraffe and take it to Kansas....come on.

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Won't regret reading

    I probably wouldn't have read this book if my wife hadn't ordered it based on a literary review. Once you get into it, you'll be proud you stayed with it. Truly delightful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2011

    Too happy? Read this book

    I struggled with the two characters in this book for 553 (nook) pages and decided he could have gotten to the point in half as many. Normally I can enjoy a character but this selfish, irresponsible woman should have been struck dead during the first chapter, never to be heard from again. I realize Delaney is a great author, but this one isn't his best.

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  • Posted March 10, 2011

    Wonderful Storytelling!

    Though I have not yet read Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, I enjoyed getting to know Ben McCarthy in The Matchmaker of Kenmare. Ben makes for an intriguing narrator as he tells the story of his relationship with Kate Begley to his two grown children. I enjoyed the air of mystery that was woven throughout the book. I wanted to read on to find out how the relationship between Ben and Kate, the matchmaker, played out. I found Kate to be a delightful and somewhat fey character whose positive attitude prevailed as she led Ben on a trail through war torn Europe and finally to the United States in search of Charles Miller, the American soldier she had hastily married during the war. I was fascinated to learn of Ireland's neutral position in World War II. Even with all the history I have learned about Ireland in my several trips there, I had never considered the Irish Republic's position in the war. I was also interested in Ben's position with the Irish Folklore commission as I have seen some of the work that was done to preserve Irish history by the Department of Irish Folklore. Having visited much of southern Ireland, including Kenmare, I was able to vividly picture the Irish setting. Of course after learning of Ben's relationship with Venetia Kelly, his missing wife, I am now anxious to go back and read Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show to learn what happened to Ben prior to his meeting Kate. I have avidly read Frank Delaney's books Ireland, Shannon and Tipperary and was thrilled when I was offered a preview copy of the The Matchmaker of Kennmare. I wasn't disappointed. Delaney's gift for telling a story shines in this new novel. The book is a delightful and thoughtful read which Delaney fans and those who love books about Ireland will thoroughly enjoy.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

    Another Masterpiece by Delaney

    Ben MacCarthy is a man who may have lost his wife, Venitia. Uncertainty about her whereabouts, if she is still alive, is slowly draining his lifeforce out of him, and a fruitless, but hopeful, search for her is all that keeps him going.

    Kate Begley is a woman who gets people together for a living. A matchmaker by trade, she is eager to find some love of her own.

    Charles Miller is a man whose life is not his own. A soldier, a spy, he is destined to change Ben and Kate's life in ways they couldn't have imagined.

    Amid the Second World War uncertainty, they live a paradox between past, present and an uncertain future. The past is populated by Ben's and Kate's personal histories, but, like wolves and ghosts stories, yet to be discerned between what's real and what's not. The present is permeated by doubts, contrasting feelings, fear. A journey through which Ben, Kate and Charles must go through in order to find out who they really are and what they really want to be. The future is only something they hope for.

    Delaney, once again, puts to paper old romantic, traditional, magical storytelling telling skills the Irish alone seem to possess. You can hear a traditional Irish storyteller's voice while you read. Not only that, but also by making Ben's job a story collector for the Irish Folklore tradition, Delaney brings to our age, into our lives, the experience in which writers such as W.B. Yeats went through when collecting marvelous tales of Irish Folklore. And that, perhaps, as old folk tales becore metaphores to real life, is what captivated me most in the book.

    The narrative has a life itself. Although some passagens are unnecessarily repetitive, e.g. the narrator's continuous warning about what's to come, others describe the scenery so vividly that you can easily forget where you are. I had such an experience while reading a war passage, and the kids playing with firecrackers at the time didn't help any!

    The only thing which I did not enjoy are the many insunuations of a possible romantic involvement between Kate and Ben. Although I understand the need to insert a sort of challenge to Ben's and Kate's feelings towards their respective soulmates, both Ben's and Kate's personality traits made such a match more out of loneliless than out of love, and things like that can only end badly. Luckily, or masterly, Delaney knew where not to go with that plot tool.

    After finishing the book, I came to learn that it is a sequel. I can safely say that not having read the Kelly's Traveling Show didn't not interfere with my understanding or enjoyment of The Matchmaker of Kenmare. There was enough background information on Ben's part in order to assure the reader of what they needed to know.

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  • Posted March 1, 2011

    Frank Delaney has done it again!!!!

    Frank Delaney has done it again. This book is wonderful and one gets swept into the characters immediately. This book is more than a war story. It is about matchmaking, love, death, grief, and above all....HOPE. Hope for a returning war soldier, hope for a marriage and hope for undying friendship/love.

    I loved the characters, especially Kate Begley and Ben. I wanted so much for Ben and Kate to get together in the end and live happily ever after. But, in my heart of hearts, I knew that Charles Miller would return. Frank Delany's rich descriptions make the characters so real, but at the same time, I truly feel like I am really reading an IRISH STORY of sorts. I melt into the book and the Irish countrysides and the war torn countries and just coast along for the ride.

    And a ride it is indeed. The author will take you on a journey of love, war, and life itself in such a endearing way. I didn't want it to end and that to me is the sign of a good book. The criteria that says to me....This is a great book and one I will remember.

    Frank Delaney, thank you for the opportunity to read a proof copy of the book and I would like to continue to be on that list. I think your writing is GREAT and it appeals to many readers. Keep up the good work, can't wait for your next IRISH STORY.

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    Posted June 20, 2011

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