Book Review & Giveaway: Venetia Kelley’s Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

Submitted by Kim

Book Review: Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

I was delighted when the Irish Fireside offered me an advance copy of Frank Delaney’s new novel “Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show.” The book was truly hot off the press! I’ve read nearly all of Delaney’s other books “Tipperary,” “Shannon” and I had started to read “Ireland” — never quite settling into it the first time around.

I have been reading, listening or watching anything I could possibly find related to Ireland for over three years now. And I do declare Delaney’s books are delightful! I particularly enjoy listening to audiobooks with Irish narrators whose strong accents bring to life all those charming Irish sayings! I had a hard time leaving my car when I arrived at work or home because the stories were so good.

“Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show” was no exception. While I did read every word in this book, it is available in an audio format narrated by Delaney. Like so many Irish authors, Delaney is a gifted storyteller. He has the ability to truly animate the pages of his books for his readers. Not only does he manage to tell a grand story, but his style conveys the tradition and spirit of the Irish way of life to his audience.

His characters make the reader feel as though they are already close acquaintances, or longing to befriend the lead characters. His style of conversation, if truth be told, transports me into the homes of my Irish family and their lives. The book is full of Irish aphorisms spoken by regular folk in Irish villages. Delaney’s tales are epic and his method of entwining the myths and legends of Ireland with actual history provides a rich picture of the period and lifestyle of his characters.

“Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show” is one of the most original and interesting stories that I have read of late. It includes the political struggles of the period which is present in so many Irish novels, almost to the point of being overdone. That is not the situation in this story. Frank Delaney’s newest book is the story of a young man’s loss of innocence. It takes into account the political climate without those events dominating the narrative. Again in his signature style, Delaney has included a seanachai in “Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show”

Seanachai is the Irish word for storyteller. Historically the senachai went from village to village passing on the myths, legends and at times pure gossip. In more recent times, during the evening, the storyteller told stories in pubs or homes of the villagers and earned a meal and lodgings in return. By day, when the Gaelic language was illegal, the seanachai gathered the village children and took them into a field to secretly teach the Irish language.

The seanachai in “Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show” is James Clare who mentors the hero, young Ben McCarthy, with lessons from Ireland’s myths and legend. In this method, Mr. Clare supports young Ben as he literally saves the family farm and his parents from ruin!

So who is Venetia Kelly? She is an actor who arrives in town and mesmerizes both Ben and his father. Venetia in fact is the star of a traveling vaudeville show. And the show sits right in the center of the story. Surrounding the show is treachery, murder, revolution, high drama and politics all rolled into one wonderful yarn. And, as I’ve already mentioned, Irish culture, history, myth and legends as the backdrop for the story. There are plenty of twists, turns and surprises in the plot! I had trouble putting it down! Delaney’s humor expressed in the sayings and descriptions of his characters is grand and adds depth to the story.

But, I don’t want to spoil it, because anyone interested in Irish culture will enjoy this story. And, if you haven’t read any of Delaney’s books, then you should! Regardless of the format Delaney is a master of Irish culture. After I started this book, I went back to the novel Ireland, one of his first books. (It’s downloaded on my iPod). And this time, I really got it! Quite a Journey!

So, picture this, I’m driving down the San Diego Freeway listening to Mr. Delaney tell a story. Then gradually, I’m one of the characters in his book; Transported to the little blue country cottage of my ancestors in Ballinamore Bridge, Co. Galway. I even smell the peat fire burning in the fireplace! Then the room falls quiet and the seanachai begins his tale…


We are giving away one signed copy of “Venetia Kelley’s Traveling Show.” Enter to win by leaving a comment on this post and leaving a voicemal message for our 100th Episode (more info) at 414-292-9269 (many callers are leaving great Ireland travel tips, so feel free to do the same – calls must be received by Sunday, March 7, 2010). The book is courtesy of the

UPDATE: Congratulations to Barbara Crane from Midland, TX. She won the signed copy of Frank Delaney’s new book.

Author: Guest

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  1. I can’t wait for this one! I too tried to read “Ireland” and couldn’t get into it. Then I put it on my GPS to listen to while traveling and it was great. I found myself sitting in the car after I had reached my destination just to listen to a little more of the story 🙂

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  2. My husband and I have read all of Delaney’s previous works and look forward to this one as well. He is a master story teller. I have never considered audio books because I love the feel of a good book in my hands, but Delaney’s books in his voice would no doubt be a delight! Will read it first, THEN listen to it!

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  3. Oh I loved Delaney’s book “Ireland.” I have his others but haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. I’d love to add this one to my collection!

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  4. I am getting ready to move from CA to FL and even though I read this one. I may just listen to it again on the trip. It really was very fun to read!

    I think the only reason I had trouble with “Ireland” is because it is a bunch of stories within a story. I don’t think I quite got it the first time and got a little lost or I just wasn’t concentrating.

    My second try at it was terrific as I have already said!

    Thanks for reading this review! I hope you enjoy the book too.


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  5. I just can’t wait to read. I am leaving for Ireland April 25. My family is in Miltown Malbay County Clare

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  6. I’m really surprised that people have said they had trouble getting into “Ireland”. I loved all the stories told within the book, and found myself getting annoyed at the plot for getting in the way of the next story 😉 I haven’t seen this new book yet, but now I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

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  7. I still haven’t gotten all the way through one of Delaney’s books. This sounds like it might have what it takes to keep me turning the pages. I like the idea of an audio book, maybe that’s what I need. Thank you for all the information.

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