The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland

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In the summer of 1943, as World War II rages on, Ben MacCarthy is haunted by the disappearance of his wife, the actress Venetia Kelly. Searching for purpose by collecting stories for the Irish Folklore Commission, he travels to a remote seaside cottage to profile the enigmatic Miss Kate Begley, the Matchmaker of Kenmare. Ben is immediately captivated by her, and a powerful friendship is forged. But when Charles Miller, a handsome American military intelligence officer, arrives on the scene, Miss Begley looks to ...

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In the summer of 1943, as World War II rages on, Ben MacCarthy is haunted by the disappearance of his wife, the actress Venetia Kelly. Searching for purpose by collecting stories for the Irish Folklore Commission, he travels to a remote seaside cottage to profile the enigmatic Miss Kate Begley, the Matchmaker of Kenmare. Ben is immediately captivated by her, and a powerful friendship is forged. But when Charles Miller, a handsome American military intelligence officer, arrives on the scene, Miss Begley looks to make a match for herself. Miller needs a favor, but it will be dangerous. Under the cover of their neutrality as Irish citizens, Miss Begley and Ben travel to London and effectively operate as spies. As they are drawn more deeply and painfully into the conflict, both discover the perils of neutrality—in both love and war.
Steeped in colorful history, The Matchmaker of Kenmare is a lush and surprising novel, rich as myth, tense as a thriller, and, like all grand tales, harrowing, sometimes hilarious, and heartbreaking.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A moving tale of love, angst and Irish superstition.”—Associated Press
“With its memorable characters and variety of adventures, [Frank] Delaney’s brand of Irish fabulism is . . . a delight to read. [The Matchmaker of Kenmare] burnishes this veteran writer’s reputation as a consummate storyteller.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Engrossing . . . Delaney again unspools a fine yarn, while providing substantive insights into history and human nature.”—The Star-Ledger
“Panoramic . . . Delaney spins an exciting yarn of romance and intrigue, and in Kate, he has created an indomitable, unforgettable character.”—Publishers Weekly
“Irish storytelling at its best.”—Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
In Delaney's panoramic sequel to Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, matchmaker Kate Begley plies her profession in neutral WWII Ireland. Into her life come Venetia Kelly narrator Ben MacCarthy, whose wife has gone missing, and Charles Miller, a U.S. intelligence officer who sends Kate and Ben on a secret assignment to France. Upon their return, Kate and Charles marry, but after D-Day, Charles disappears while on a dangerous mission, and Kate enlists Ben's help in finding him. They travel to France and Germany, where they stumble across the German army about to launch its last-gasp assault in the Ardennes and end up questioning the wisdom of remaining neutral in the face of overwhelming evil. An expert at mining Irish lore for congenial fiction, Delaney spins an exciting yarn of romance and intrigue, and, in Kate, he has created an indomitable, unforgettable character. Though the novel's leisurely pace is at odds with the wartime plot (and the subplot about Ben's missing wife will be confusing to those not familiar with the previous book), Delaney wrings the pulp out of a Jack Higgins–like premise and turns it into something more satisfyingly literary. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews

Years after his Irish vaudeville adventures in Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show (2010), 29-year-old Ben McCarthy loses his heart to an eccentrically spunky young matchmaker who keeps him platonically glued to her side as she searches for her missing new husband, an American captain, in war-torn Europe.

McCarthy, who works for a government folklore commission, is collecting material on matchmakers in Ireland when he meets his match in Kate Begley. Their unusually intimate friendship, which requires them to sleep naked together so they know each other (almost) to the fullest, is well-timed. Ben is haunted by the disappearance of his wife Venetia, a mystery that was never solved. Four years into World War II, known as "The Emergency" in Ireland, a pervasive sense of isolation grips the country, a strategically desirable place for Germany and the United States. After Kate's stolid husband, Capt. Miller, resumes his duties in Europe, and then talks her into going behind German lines on a secret mission, she and Ben find themselves in danger. When military authorities tell her the man known as "Killer Miller" was killed, she refuses to believe it and obsessively pursues him across a span of years and across the Atlantic Ocean—still leading Ben around by the heartstrings. Retrospectively told by Ben to his daughters, this book is a teasing epic punctuated by hints of how much worse things are going to get for the heroine. The resolution of Venetia's disappearance feels tossed off, and the novel ends up in John Irving territory with its cute antics involving zoo animals and oddball characters. As a result, it doesn't take flight as much as it should. But with its memorable characters and variety of adventures, Delaney's brand of Irish fabulism is still a delight to read. The novel burnishes this veteran writer's reputation as a consummate storyteller.

One of the best fictional wartime couples animates veteran Delaney's darkly wistful novel.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812979749
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/17/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 577,273
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank Delaney

Frank Delaney is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Ireland, as well as Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, Tipperary, Shannon, and Simple Courage: A True Story of Peril on the Sea. A former judge for the Man Booker Prize, Delaney enjoyed a prominent career in BBC broadcasting before becoming a full-time writer. Born in Tipperary, Ireland, he now lives in New York City and Connecticut.


J.R.R. Tolkien was famously inspired to write The Lord of the Rings because England did not have a mythology to call its own. Had Tolkien been born a few hundred kilometers to the west, he might have created something more akin to Frank Delaney's Ireland: A Novel.

Set in the country of Delaney's birth, Ireland is, according to Publisher's Weekly, a "sprawling, riveting read, a book of stories melding into a novel wrapped up in an Irish history text." Although the length and subject matter of Delaney's novel invites comparisons to the work of James Michener, Delaney's book aims for the heart rather than the intellect. As opposed to Michener's meticulously researched histories, Ireland is steeped in the Irish storytelling tradition, in which fact and fiction intertwine in the pursuit of a good story.

Ireland is Delaney's first novel to be released in the United States, but he has been a well-known writer and broadcaster in the United Kingdom for many years. In addition to writing seven other novels and a number of nonfiction works, he hosted a long-running and highly-rated series on BBC radio called Word of Mouth. His interest in Irish culture led him to create The Celts, a six-part BBC television series on Celtic history that is notable for giving the musical artist Enya her first popular exposure.

The seeds for Ireland were planted in early 1990, during breakfast with a literary agent and friend named Ed Ficter. Delaney loved the idea of writing an epic history of Ireland, but his busy schedule left him with little time to work on the project. Over the years, Delaney continued to meet with Ficter, and every time, Ficter would leave the conversation with, "Don't forget Ireland: A Novel." After 12 years, Ficter finally managed to wear Delaney down. He dropped his agent, signed up with Ficter, and began work on Ireland.

The basis of many of the stories in the novel were informed by Delaney's extensive travels around his home country. When Delaney was working as a bank clerk in his early 20s, he would often hitchhike around Ireland during holidays, visiting small, forgotten villages and having long conversations with the locals. It was during these travels that Delaney fell in love with Ireland and the people who live there.

Although critical response to Ireland has been highly favorable, Delaney balks when asked if this is his masterpiece. "Oh, God no," he told British bookseller The Book Place, "this is just the start of a new phase. I do want to write a series of big novels about Ireland, and this is the first of them." Fans of Delaney's magical, moving novel eagerly await the forthcoming results of this "new phase."

Good To Know

In our interview, Delaney shared some fun and fascinating insights with us:

"For a startling period of my life I reported the Troubles in Ireland for the BBC. I lived in Dublin and was called out to all sorts of incidents that, if taken together, add up to a war -- bombings, assassinations, riots, shootings, robberies, jailbreaks, kidnappings, and sieges. It was a 24/7 life, lived on the road, or so it felt, with never a still moment, never knowing what was going to happen next. I've touched on it in a novel called Desire & Pursuit, but the vast portion of the experience is still in there, somewhere in my unconscious mind; and I expect it will emerge one day."

"As an arts journalist in London, working mainly for the BBC, I interviewed hundreds if not thousands of authors. From them I gleaned a great deal of passing instruction in writing and I observed one fascinating detail: no two writers approach their work -- physically -- in the same way. Some write longhand in pencil; some have voice-trained their computers -- and in between lies the world of authorship. As for an interesting moment -- Harold Robbins emerging from his hotel bathroom for an interview with a pretty, bikinied blonde girl on each arm; talk about true to type!"

"No country impresses me as much as the USA. ‘Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?' you think -- to which I answer, 'Well, no I wouldn't.' The fact is -- if you want to know how warm Americans, are all you have to do is stand on a sidewalk and open a map. Within seconds, passers-by will gather, offering to help. If you think it happens everywhere else -- it doesn't."

"Writers have opinions -- that, in part, is why they write. Therefore they have strong likes and dislikes. I love hamburgers but hate beets. (Note: I'm using the word 'love,' not 'like.') I love baseball, hate reality shows (all that licensing of people to behave badly). I love libraries, hate noise in public spaces. I'll stop there -- this could become an endless list!"

"Interests and hobbies: Writing -- and reading about writing; renovating houses (I've done three so far); sport, in most forms; great music -- anything from harmonica to harpsichord. In fact, I'd have to struggle to find a subject in which I can't get some kind of interested pulse started."

"Favorite ways to unwind: I like to sprawl in front of the television -- but it has to be good! Good political comment, good drama, good documentary, good drama. One of the mysteries of life is why television is so frequently so bad -- it doesn't have to be, and many have proven that fact. I also like gardening and general pottering and organizing things and walking -- all of these give me good thinking time."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Francis Bryan
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York, and Kent, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 24, 1941
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tipperary, Republic of Ireland
    1. Education:
      Thomastown National School 1947-54; The Abbey School, Tipperary, 1954-60; Rosse College, Dublin, 1960
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt




The Matchmaker of Kenmare taught me much of what I know.

“If a giraffe isn’t weaned right,” she said once, “you’ll have to provide twenty gallons of fresh milk for it every day.”

Another morning she told me, “If you’re going out in the rain, always butter your boots. It makes them waterproof.”

She knew a terrific card trick, but she refused to teach it to me. “Big hands are for power,” she said, “not trickery.”

At our very first meeting she asked, “How can you tell whether an egg is fresh?”

If it doesn’t bounce when you drop it? In those days, I had a sardonic inner voice, my only defense mechanism.

She said, “Put it in a pan of cold water with salt, and if the egg rises to the surface it’s bad.”

You must have seen a lot of bad eggs, said my secret voice. I think I was afraid of her then.

She went on, “If you’re hard-boiling an egg, a pinch of salt in the water will stop it cracking.”

A pinch of salt, indeed.

“If you ever want to catch a bird,” she said, “just sprinkle salt on its tail.”

How useful. You just have to get close enough.

“Not too much salt,” she added.

Does it depend on the size of the bird?

Could she hear what I was thinking? “But don’t do it,” she said, “with an ostrich. Ostriches hate salt.”

Hoping to sound tactful, I asked, “Are there ostriches here in Kerry?”

“Ah, use your imagination,” she said. “They’re around here all right. But you have to know where to look for them.”

I nodded, in confusion more than agreement.

“Do you have a strong imagination, Ben?”

“I do,” I said, “but I’m not sure that I trust it.”

“There are only two words,” she said, “in which I put my trust. Magic and Faith.”

Some of her grip on me came from the conflict of opposites. Whereas I had always leaned toward the scholarly, she belonged to the demotic. For every line of Horace and Virgil that I savored, she had a snatch of cant, and from the moment we met I began to note many of her sayings and old saws. They still addle my brain; this morning, as I sat down to work, I remembered a fragment from a spelling game that she’d learned as a child: “Mrs. D. Mrs. I. Mrs. F-F-I. Mrs. C. Mrs. U. Mrs. L-T-Y.”

“Patience,” she murmured another day, “is the Mother of Science.”

I would swear that she often spoke in uppercase letters.

Since she rarely left her stony Atlantic headland, her knowledge of the world must have come from some popular encyclopedia of arcane and unconnected facts. Giraffes, ostriches, and eggs—they formed no more than an introduction. She knew about the lives of ants; how to gut a fish using a sharp stick and your thumb; training a cat to play dead; the healing properties of sour milk; the fact that honey is the only food that never goes off; where to find a stone that retains heat for twelve hours; how cloves grow; the number of bones in an eagle’s wing; why a cow has four stomachs; how long to boil the tar for caulking the hull of a boat. She was a walking, talking library of vernacular knowledge.

She loved music, but she couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. Her eye had the familiar speed of a child raised in the countryside—she could identify a bird thousands of yards away. She had a sense of color so strong that she could tell one shade of black from another. Her capacity to quote from Shakespeare suggested wide reading of him—even if some pages seemed to have been missing from her edition of the Collected Works.

Moreover, she had one specific gift that I still can’t fathom. It has never ceased to puzzle me; she used it a number of times in my company, always with astonishing results, and if it can’t be called “magic,” well, nothing can: She could find people by looking at a map. And we shall come to those moments when I saw her pull this stunt, trick, sleight of mind, or whatever it should be called.

Although she spoke three and a half languages, she had never been abroad. And however delightful in its innocence, the part of her that remained in her own homestead also made me wince, with its homespun charm, its greeting-card sentiment.

“Ben, do you know what the difference is between Friendship and Love? Friendship is the photograph, Love is the oil painting.” And she uttered it in the declarative way she had of saying things that made me hesitate to contradict her.

Her words often sounded so shallow that I dismissed them, and later found to my displeasure that her mushy sentiments had lingered and were staggering around in my mind like a drunk at a wedding. In that sense, she possessed in trumps the strange potency of cheap music, and I know that I caught some of it from her.

However, from inside all that phrase-and-fable stuff, she served up a philosophy that had an alluring power. For example, she brought into my life a belief in something that she called “Referred Passion”; I even lived by it for a time.

“Do you know what I mean by ‘Referred Passion’?” she said one day about a year into our relationship. And, as usual, not waiting for my hopeless stab at a reply, she went on. “Do you know what a referred pain is?”

Is it when I feel so stupid that I could kick myself?

“I’ll explain it,” she said. “Your shoulder is injured, but you feel it in your chest. Or you’ve hurt your spine, but your hip is carrying the ache. That’s referred pain. Well, Referred Passion is when you’re in love with one person, but you fiercely embrace another. That’s us,” she said. “That’s me and you. Friendship is a choice,” she said. “Love isn’t.”

What else can I tell you about her? She had a phenomenal passion for handkerchiefs. She kept her hair tucked behind an ear like Rita Hayworth. She taught me the words of bawdy old country rhymes, most of them too salty to repeat here. Also, she had the most peculiar recipes for things.

“If you have the hiccups,” she told me one day, “bend down, put your hands on the floor, and look back between your legs at the sun.”

My inner voice said, Is that all you’ll be able to see?—but I asked her, “And what if it’s the middle of the night?”

She said, “Then you’re in worse trouble.”

And I was—but I never picked up the warnings.

As I sat down to write this memoir, I had an opening paragraph in mind; here it is:

I wish I could tell you about the greatest friendship of my life; I wish I could tell you how it developed beyond friendship into something for which I have no definition, no terminology. But the moment I begin to tell it (and I must: I’m mortally committed to telling this tale before I die), I know that I’ll enter what I call the “Regret Cycle,” and the “What If Cycle,” and the “If Only Cycle,” and I’ll end up nowhere again.

As you can see, I abandoned those opening sentences, and the direction they proposed—yet I’m nevertheless going to write it all down for you. I’m old enough now to deal with the regrets, the what-ifs, and if-onlys, and whatever the subjective faults you may find in this remembrance, at least I can describe how I, who knew little about anything beyond my own narrow concerns, learned to become a true and deep friend to someone. It may prove important to you one day. To the both of you.

She, of course, was the one who taught me this magnificent skill—as she taught me something else extraordinary, the greatest single lesson of my life: She taught me what blind faith looks like. And blind faith is why I’m writing this account of her life, and how it affected me.

Kate Begley was her name, and she was known as the Matchmaker of Kenmare long before I met her. She and her grandmother shared the title, and Kate was as pretty as a pinup. I was twenty-nine, she was twenty-five when I met her, and she had a grin like a boy’s.

See? See what’s happening to me? Pretty as a pinup; and a grin like a boy’s—the moment I begin to describe her, all these decades later, I become sentimental about her, and I fall into language that I would never use in my ordinary life.

I who for years wrote uncluttered and austere reports of ancient countryside traditions, I who studied with joy the most powerful scholars of old Europe, I who pride myself on my unadorned simplicity of purpose—here I am, forced back into her way of thinking. And I squirm, because at these moments her greeting-card remarks will flood through me again like a maudlin old song. I’ve just heard one of those corny echoes: “You have to believe me, Ben,” she said. “Love is not a decision. But Friendship is.”

Why am I telling you all this? You’ll see why. You’ll see how she affected my life, and you’ll grasp the implications of that effect upon all of us whom this memoir concerns. You’ll see how she was the one who made the determinations; where we would go, no matter how dangerous; what we might attempt, no matter how bizarre; and yes, she decided too the balance of love and friendship between us.

I followed, and she led me into trouble so deep that my own father wouldn’t have found me. Older than she in years but younger by centuries, I’d never intended to be so commanded, but some people snag you on their spikes, and you hang there, flapping helplessly, and— I admit it—fascinated.

When I met Kate Begley, the Second World War had been under way for four years. In Ireland, we called it by a wonderful, ameliorating euphemism—“The Emergency.” We were one of the very few countries in Europe immune from the conflict, because we had taken up a position of neutrality. Controversial among our geographical neighbors, and sometimes even among ourselves, I agreed with it. Its moral simplicity suited what I like in life.

I also liked its military practicality; who were we, on our tiny island, to fight among such vast regiments? We hadn’t even replenished our slaughtered breadwinners from the previous war, in which we’d lost tens of thousands of men. Thus, we had learned to stay out of such things, or so I believed.

And yet, because I took Kate Begley at her word, because I surrendered myself to her philosophy of friendship, that is to say, Referred Passion, the war sucked me in. When it swept her from that brilliant Atlantic headland where she lived, and from her generally innocent life, it took me with her.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 36 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

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  • 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


    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


    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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