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Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show

Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show

3.8 17
by Frank Delaney

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“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

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Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Res under this.
Anonymous 5 months ago
SUEHAV More than 1 year ago
Way too long and convoluted. Liked his others much more. Could have been half as long.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The storyline is odd, told by a narrator who provides more detail on Irish politics than the principals involved. The main characters display limited emotions, the reader never really gets drawn into the story. The ending is set for a sequel, but I didn't care enough to see if there is one .......
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grumpydan More than 1 year ago
Ben MacCarthy's father runs away with the circus in 1932 Ireland. Ben's mother sends Ben out to find his father and bring him back home. This is the theme of Frank Delaney's Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show. It is a journey for all these colorful characters and an entertaining tale of love, hope and politics and the lonely circus life. I found the story hard to get into, but once I did, I was captivated by Ben's voyage.
jfish77 More than 1 year ago
I love a great story and Delany is a great story teller, who coincidentally, tells stories about other great story tellers. This book is great - set in early 20th century Ireland in a world of political chaos, two families collide in an unexpected way, forever altering each person's life. What I love the most about Delany is is writing style. He truly loves words and there were more than a few times that I found myself having to stop to digest a beautifully crafted sentence that means so much more than the context of the story. He reminds me of a mature Stienbeck, which is one the highest compliments that I can pay to a writer. I will say, without a spoiler, that I hated the ending. I get it, but I didn't like it.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
The voice. It's a most remarkable voice, magical, mesmerizing drawing one in. Through countless audiobooks never has a reader (in this case, of course, also the author) so captured me. I dislike cliches but this fellow could read a city census and there would be applause. Frank Delaney's voice is modulated, low, strong with merely a hint of the Irish. His words can tumble, spring forth to cast a spell or somberly intone. His narration is rich with understanding, and ripe with experience: I've been there, I've seen it, I know it. How can a voice convey all of this? Listen to VENETIA KELLY'S TRAVELING SHOW. To tell us of the momentous events that changed not only his life but that of his country, Ireland, Ben McCarthy remembers. Now an older man he looks back to the winter of 1932, a time of turmoil in his home and throughout the land. He lived with his father and mother, Harry and Louise, on a small farm. Harry is stolid, hard working, a family man. Ben sometimes worries that his parents work too hard, and "dug for gold on the farm so he could buy his parents gifts." Quite obviously he is a good youth, one who only wants to do what is right. Theirs is a quiet life with entertainment sometimes being a traveling circus. Harry goes to Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show starring Venetia, a young, beautiful woman who we are told "... sprang from the womb and waved to the crowd. Then she smiled and took a bow. " It's a shock when always reliable Harry falls passionately, head-over-heels, crazy in love with Venetia and decides to follow the circus. Louise is distraught and sends Ben off with directions to "Find him and bring him back." Thus begins Ben's odyssey, a journey studded with intrigue, larceny, murder and other heinous acts. In addition to unforgettable characters Delaney peoples his story with real people (Yeats) and, yes, a ventriloquist's dummy, Blarney, whose utterances are less than comedic. Woven throughout are references to myth. An ever astonishing author Delaney is difficult to capture - he's inventive, surprising, witty, erudite. But, why try to capture him? Simply listen and enjoy. - Gail Cooke
Booksnyc More than 1 year ago
The book opens with the announcement of the birth of the title character Venetia Kelly, as told by the narrator, Ben McCarthy. It is clear from the first paragraph, if not from the novel's title, that Venetia Kelly will play a pivotal role in this story. It is almost as if she is ordained with mythical power even from birth. But rather than immediately dive into Venetia's story, Delaney carefully weaves a tapestry of characters which surround or are connected to Venetia in some way. At first, it was difficult to see how all the threads were going to come together - the story moved from NYC to Ireland and between members of the Kelly and McCarthy families in the first 100 pages. But those 100 pages served their purpose - I found myself completely drawn into the story at that point. I knew the characters well and was driven to read on and see how the story would unfold and how they would influence each other's stories. The use of Ben McCarthy as the narrator is an interesting device. Ben is telling this story as a man in his 50's reflecting on events that took place when he was an 18 year old on the verge of manhood. He acknowledges that here: As you read, please know that I am a man of mature years telling the story of himself when young, so forgive me if at times I make the young me seem and sound older than eighteen. By having the narrator speak so directly to the reader, Delaney makes the reader feel almost as if they are listening to a story being told by a friend as he reminisces about his childhood. The many "digressions" taken by narrator enhances the sense of the story being told to you - Ben speaks to the reader in the way you would imagine any good Irish storyteller would - by taking a circuitous route with lots of color thrown in for good measure. Interestingly enough, there is a link on Frank Delaney's website to lectures he has given on the tradition of Irish oral storytelling. That tradition is perpetuated in his narrator Ben McCarthy. I truly enjoyed this expansive novel - it is rich and multi-layered and one of the few books I would choose to reread. There is so much woven into the novel - Irish political history, mythology and complex characters- that I feel it is a book that can be read on many levels and you may see different things upon reread. It has been a long time since I have been so absorbed in a novel; this is my first Delaney but most certainly will not be my last - I will definitely be going back to read his earlier novels!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story by a master storyteller with many twists and turns, suspense, the unexpected and the dramatic setting of an Ireland still struggling as a divided nation. It's a fast moving story that took me from cover to cover with an appreciation for a spellbinding story.
Sarijj More than 1 year ago
Venita Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney From the synopsis: 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. I love Frank Delaney, so when Radom House offered me the chance to review his latest novel I jumped on it. I was not disappointed. Delaney offers his readers an Irish tale of love, betrayal, and redemption. It is a coming of age story; the coming of age for a young independent Ireland and a young man who must grow up much faster than most. Ben MacCarthy is given a piece of advice from his mother that sets the tone for the novel: there are two ways to see things. See them as they are or as they seem to be. When Ben's father falls for Vernita and her vagabond life the reader must decide if he is seeing her as she really is or how she seems to be. As Ben travels in search of his father the reader learns about the politics and values of 1920 Ireland; the Ireland that is, and the Ireland that seems to be. The characters introduced are both very human and mythical. Delaney has a way of making his readers fall for all of his characters and yearn for more. This is not a quick read; Delaney, a true Irish story teller. He takes his readers on small side journeys and cannot tell a short or small tale. He tells a story before getting to his main point and at times veers from his tale in order to introduce characters, only to come back to them later in the novel. This can be frustrating for those who like a linear tale, but for those who love true story telling, this is a must read. Following Venita Kelly is one of the best adventures you will embark on this year.
2manybooks2littletime More than 1 year ago
I like history and I like novels. I especially like historical novels. This was neither of the above three mentioned. I read "Ireland" by this author and loved it. It combined Irish myth with a story about a traveling storyteller. This book didn't even come close. He should have either stuck with a history book about Ireland's political past or a novel set with colorful Irish characters. The main character regresses to much and strays from the story for no appearant reason. I couldn't finish this book, which is rare for me.