Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guest Review: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

Book: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: A-
For: review request
From: sent to me by the author/publisher

When I got this book in the mail, I passed along to my husband to read, because for some reason, I have it in my head that he enjoys books about or set in Ireland. Now, I have no idea if this is really true, but somehow, I keep thinking that. So I handed it over and said, "write me a review when you're done!" 

And so, here it is:

Oh Venetia, Venetia, wherefore art thou Venetia?

Venetia Kelly, the mystical, flamboyant traveling show girl lands smack on top of Ben MacCarthy's life and turns it head over heels.

Ben, a run of the mill Irish farm boy, only child of hard working respectable parents, describes his idealistic childhood. “Things had been going so well in my life. No complications yet – no girls, I didn't smoke or drink, and I didn't gamble. I didn't even swear, not out loud.”

But in a single night his innocence would run headlong into a confusing and torrid world of deceit, thievery, and national Irish politics.

The trigger? Well, it went down something like this. It was a special night out on the town, just father and eighteen year old son. A heartwarming variety show: juggling, readings, maybe a clown or two. Both of them sat transfixed, mesmerized by the colors of the show. Then, as the performers exited stage right, the father said, “Ben, I'm not coming home with you tonight... I'm going to join Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show.”

Such was Ben's first kick in the pants. Several more followed as his mother sent him out into the world to “Go after him. Bring him back.”

In wonderful description, Frank Delaney allows the reader to follow along with Ben as he discovers evil, love, treachery, murder, and loss.

But what about Venetia? Isn't it her name in the title? Well, yes, but this is a book more about Ben. Venetia is bigger than life. She is mysterious, charming, controlling, mesmerizing. She known exactly what she wants and she does not follow standard protocols to get it. But, Venetia's story is still to be fully told. This story is Ben's and the impact Venetia, and her family, had on his life.

The story is told meshed into 1932 Irish politics and country life, but a knowledge of the history is not required to enjoy this book. I venture to guess that the Irish history buffs may see symbolism between Ben's coming of age and the Irish nation's maturation.

I loved Frank Delaney's writing style, but it took me a few chapters to warm up to it. The narrator is Ben as an old man and he speaks directly to the reader. This threw me off a little until I became accustomed to it, and then I grew to really like it.

I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick light read.

As I remember saying before, he should be doing book reviews and not me! 

For more on  author Frank Delany, check out his website here.

Other reviews:

Tales of a Capricious Reader
The Literate Housewife Review
Books in the City


  1. I've got this on my list to read in the next month - glad to hear it is so good!

  2. How nice of your hubby to review the book--and how nice of you to give him one that he enjoyed!



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