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 best-selling author of Ireland and Shannon.
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 ventriloquists dummy named Blarney), Frank Delaney unfurls a splendid narrative that spans half the world and a tumultuous, eventful decade.
Teeming with intrigue, pathos, and humor, Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show explores two of Ireland's great national passions: theater and politics. Writing with his signature mastery and lyrical prose, Frank Delaney once again delivers an unforgettable story as big and boisterous as the people and events it chronicles.
©2010 Frank Delaney (P)2010 Random House
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5 out of 5 stars
By California Vegan on 13-10-11

What a joy!

Once again, Frank Delaney has demonstrated that time travel IS possible. Delaney's reading of his own work transports the listener to Ireland at one of the most turbulent times in its resent past. Delaney is, without a doubt, the premier storyteller of our time, or should I say, Seanachai? Love this guy!

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Sharonia on 16-02-11

A beautiful and poignant tale

This is the fourth book I've read by Frank Delaney. I was smitten by "Ireland" and knew I had to have this new novel and it does not disappoint. What a consummate story teller! How adroitly he weaves into his stories the lore and politics of Ireland, of which he is eminently knowledgeable. He manages to make the twists and turns of the plot believable and the characters are so colorful. He does his own reading and it is superb, with his inimitable Irish accent, yet bringing to life German characters like the adorable housekeeper, Mrs. Haas. The ending is indeed bittersweet, yet somehow he manages to make us accept it, and brings the novel to a close so gently. I'm left wanting to savor it for days before I start another book.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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