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Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show: A Novel

Frank Delaney.
Publisher Random House/BOMC  
Format hardcover, BOMC
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 5.75 x 1.25 inches
ISBN 9781400067831
Pages/Publication Date 427/2010
Daedalus Item Code 31612
This item is not available.
In this epic novel by the author of Ireland and Shannon it is January 1932 and 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 such historical figures as W.B. Yeats with a host of unforgettable creations—"King" Kelly, Venetia's Mephistophelean grandfather; Sarah Kelly, Venetia's mysterious, amoral mother; and even a truth-telling ventriloquist's dummy named Blarney—Frank Delaney unfurls a narrative that spans half the world and a tumultuous decade.

"Delaney pulls out all the stops as he tips his hat to two great and all but indistinguishable Irish traditions: the theater and politics. Readers will be enchanted as the author spins a tale so glib, so charming, and so amusing that—begorrah—you can almost imagine him slyly winking as he kisses the Blarney Stone. Set in Ireland in the politically tumultuous 1930s, this rollicking tale, chockfull of Irish wit, superstition, and sentiment, features a larger-than-life cast of suitably eccentric characters. When 18-year-old Ben McCarthy, is dispatched by his mother to fetch home his wayward father, he embarks on an odyssey so wonderfully strange, all-encompassing, and ultimately tragic that it will effectually define his entire life. After Papa McCarthy, a staid and gentlemanly soul, does something as wildly out of character as fall for a beautiful and charming young actress, Ben, too, is irresistibly drawn into the giddy orbit of Venetia Kelly and her Traveling Show. Ben’s bittersweet story plays out against a backdrop of political corruption, personal greed, and high unexpected romance."—Booklist

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