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The Last Storyteller (A Novel of Ireland, #3)
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The Last Storyteller (Ireland #3)

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3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  651 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
Frank Delaney, New York Times bestselling author of Ireland, Shannon, Tipperary, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, and The Matchmaker of Kenmare, is the unparalleled master of Irish historical fiction, bringing Ireland to life with exceptional warmth, wisdom, and wit. Now, in The Last Storyteller, Delaney weaves an absorbing tale of lasting love, dangerous risk, and the heal ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Random House (first published January 1st 2012)
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Benji Martin
Feb 05, 2012 Benji Martin rated it it was amazing
There were some notable things lacking in Frank Delaney’s The Matchmaker of Kenmare, which surprised me, because Delaney is capable of writing, and had already written a nearly perfect novel (Ireland). What I didn’t know back then, is that Delaney was holding back. He was saving the big punches for his newest book,the final in the Ben McCarthy trilogy, The Last Storyteller. This novel, like Ireland, is everything an Irish novel should be. It’s funny at times, tragic at times and always a tiny ...more
Elaine Cristina Oliveira
Feb 06, 2012 Elaine Cristina Oliveira rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mairead
Feb 15, 2012 Mairead rated it really liked it
"The Last Storyteller - A Novel Of Ireland" is a book of enduring beauty, suspense and heartbreak.

Ben MacCarthy is a flawed, but idealistic hero, searching for his purpose as a father, and learning to overcome cowardice to reconnect with his long lost wife. The complex characters of this book, endure emotional and often brutal realities, which Delaney concisely depicts with carefully chosen words and phrases. He is a true word master, whose narrative skills create memorable and compelling scene
...more
Justin
Mar 27, 2012 Justin rated it really liked it
Shelves: ireland, fiction
I was offered a free copy of this book to review, being the outspoken fan of Delaney’s that I am, and would like to offer my thanks for that opportunity. That being said, this book made me nervous. I normally tear through Delaney’s books, but this one was slow going for me. I was actually convinced about halfway through that I wouldn’t like it, and then dramatically changed course when I got to the superb last third of the book. As others have mentioned, this is the third book in a trilogy, and ...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

This is a book for story-tellers and story readers. It’s the third stand alone book in Frank Delaney’s “Novel of Ireland” series. It includes Irish history, myth, and lore layered with its 1956 setting. It’s a book that will please those who wish a vicarious trip to Ireland and the oral traditions of its past.
“Do you have room in your mind for a tale of life itself, a tale of wonder, wisdom, and delight?” (page 331)

About: This is a multi-layered story
...more
Susan Anderson
Feb 09, 2012 Susan Anderson rated it it was amazing
Frank Delaney’s latest novel, The Last Storyteller: A Novel Of Ireland, is a book to be savored, an unforgettable story of love, joy, loss, danger. THE LAST STORYTELLER is a history of Ireland told in bits and broken pieces, bitter fact, story, and myth. I read it through once, then flipped back and forth, re-reading underlined passages, all the while basking in its spell. For make no mistake, Delaney is a prodigious weaver of words.

It is 1956 and Ireland is again in upheaval, the nation, downtr
...more
Diane Meier
Feb 08, 2012 Diane Meier rated it it was amazing
As in the novel most feel was his masterpiece, "Ireland," in The Last Storyteller, the craft of storytelling is not only celebrated, it's gift-wrapped and presented in ways that feel important, and yet, personal and intimate.

For those who love the idea of Once Upon a Time... this is the book for you!


Like all of Frank's books, the language is gorgeous. No doubt you expect me to say something like that. But really -- listen. This book is something...

The story is compelling and moving and full of
...more
Sally Hanan
Feb 06, 2012 Sally Hanan rated it it was amazing
A sigh of satisfaction escaped my lips as I finally put this book down. With a plot as meandering as an Irish country road, this final book in the Venetia Kelly trilogy is deeply satiating read. From the first page Delaney pulls you into the old Ireland — the humor, the poetry of the vernacular, the poverty, the ability to always pull through and laugh at everyone.

This book goes deeper into Ben’s personal struggles, and throughout the book he examines and questions his actions over the years. W
...more
Keri Knutson
Feb 07, 2012 Keri Knutson rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to receive an advance review copy of Frank Delaney’s The Last Storyteller. It was my first introduction to his work, and even though the book is part of a continuing series, it works wonderfully as a stand-alone novel.

While the beginning is just a tad slow, it was soon easy to be lost in Ben and Venetia’s story while still being captivated by the interweaving of the legends and mythos of Ireland too – not an easy feat, and one that shows off Delaney’s considerable narrative skil
...more
Cheryl
Mar 06, 2012 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Venetia has traveled back to Ireland. She is joined by her new husband. A man that is cruel and nothing like Ben. No matter where Venetia is, Ben always has her on his mind. Ben would go to the ends of the Earth for her. That is why; Ben goes on his last trip to reclaim Venetia as his forever.

The Last Storyteller is the last book about couple, Ben MacCarthy and his true love, Venetia Kelly. I have enjoyed reading these books. I instantly fell in love with Ben, Venetia and author, Delaney, when I
...more
Jenny
Jun 30, 2013 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book! I loved his writing. It's hard to find books these days that are well-written, have an interesting story-line but don't have a lot of junk in them. I'm looking forward to reading his other books.
Linda
It's always risky reading the last book of a trilogy as a stand-alone without first having read the previous titles, but that's what we did in our group with this book. As it turned out, several of the group abandoned Storyteller before finishing because of character and plot confusion. Those of us who actually stuck it out to the end agreed that although it started out slowly and was hard to follow, things became clearer and more engaging in the second half. But one thing that everyone agreed ...more
Paula Berinstein
Mar 28, 2012 Paula Berinstein rated it it was amazing
I love this book! It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

The book is so layered that it’s impossible to absorb or even notice everything Delaney is doing on the first reading. I haven’t read the other books in the series; I suspect that familiarity with the characters would help a bit, but there’s still so much going on that I recommend multiple readings. Read it the first time to get acclimated, the second time to savor every word, every story, every nuance. Y
...more
Magdalena
At a fairly late point in The Last Storyteller , the protagonist Ben McCarthy says that, in times of acute pain and fear, people needed "something other than their norms." By this, he was referring to the power of stories to heal and unite people: "At one stride we had returned to a kind of spiritual paganism, an intense humanism almost, a reaching for primitive beliefs in the power of the human spirit to learn how to heal itself." (337) This is, at heart, what The Last Storyteller is about: the ...more
Sandra Olshaski
Feb 07, 2012 Sandra Olshaski rated it really liked it
The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6785-5
Published by Random House
Published: February 7, 2012
Hard Cover, 385 pages

I like Frank Delaney’s style of writing. It’s different and undoubtedly quirky, but somehow perfect for an Irish tale. I can hear an Irish lilt as I read it. The Last Storyteller is the third book in a trilogy that began with Venetia Kelly’s Travelling Show, followed by The Matchmaker of Kenmare and it brings to a close the story of Ben MacCarthy and Venetia Kelly.
...more
Jon
Jun 06, 2012 Jon rated it really liked it
Delaney's Last Storyteller is an ambitious novel that seeks to connect history, myth, and personal reality, all in the guise of a tale--or series of tales--about recently independent Ireland of the 1950s.

The main storyline focuses on Ben MacCarthy, a government employee whose job is to collect folklore from around the country. The setting is an Ireland being torn apart by violence--the fight over the freeing of Northern Ireland from British control supported by a group of rebels that would becom
...more
Ricki Treleaven
Mar 09, 2013 Ricki Treleaven rated it it was amazing
I have been attempting to read The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney for several months, but I've been excited, anxious, and, quite frankly, dreading reading this book. Let me explain. The Last Storyteller is the last book in a trilogy about the incredible life of Ben McCarthy. Ben works for the Irish Folklore Commission collecting stories, anecdotes, home remedies, and lore. The riveting final installment of Delaney's Ben McCarthy trilogy focuses on the protagonist's folklore studies with ...more
Harvey Tordoff
Nov 11, 2014 Harvey Tordoff rated it liked it
Part way through this book I realised that Delaney had written another book, Venetia Kelly's Travelling Show. I felt that perhaps I should have read the earlier book first, but not having done so the Last Storyteller had to stand on its own. It didn't quite, for Venetia also occupies some of these pages and I could never fathom her motives.

Venetia also occupies the mind and life of Ben MacCarthy, the storyteller in this book, so it would have helped to have understood her better, but no matter,
...more
Victor Carson
Although I have read four of the author's other novels: Ireland, Shannon, Tipperary, and Venetia Kelly's Travelling Show, I do not like The Last Storyteller nearly as much. The novel is the final book in a trilogy that begins with Venetia Kelly's Travelling Show, although I did not read the second novel in the series. Most of the main characters carry over from the first book but the older versions of Ben MacCarthy and Venetia Kelly lack the vitality of their younger selves. Moreover, the main ...more
Viviane Crystal
Jan 31, 2012 Viviane Crystal rated it it was amazing
Ben McCarthy has finally taken up the professional mantle of his mentors as a collector of folklore, and he is certainly at his best in this latest novel by Frank Delaney. Three stories are interwoven herein, Ben's collecting, recording, and sharing of numerous Irish tales that have an uncanny resonance in his own life, as well as being absolutely intriguing to readers of all ages. For what is a story but a re-imagining of the ups and downs of real life supported by the ideal, the fantastic, the ...more
Michael Vanatta
Jan 30, 2012 Michael Vanatta rated it it was amazing
The Last Storyteller
Frank Delaney


What is a “Seanchai”? A Seanchai is an Irish storyteller, a bard, someone who maintains and relates Irish history verbally and by memory. Irish history has been passed on by these Seanchai traveling from village to village, telling their stories in the living rooms and kitchens of the rural Irish people for centuries.

Ben McCarthy is an Irish story collector, employed by the Irish Folklore Commission traveling and collecting stories throughout the Irish countrysid
...more
Shelby Lee
Jul 11, 2015 Shelby Lee rated it really liked it
Books like this one are so interesting to me, because while I think it was a very, very good book, I didn't need to read it.

What I mean is this:

often when I pick up a book and begin to read, I need to finish the story. Even if it's not one I particularly like, I need to read it from beginning to end as soon as I can. I don't like taking breaks, I don't like putting books down. Most of the time I'm happiest if I'm able to be curled up in blankets somewhere and read one full book in a sitting.

Not
...more
Kristen
Jun 04, 2012 Kristen rated it it was amazing

I loved this novel and reviewed it for the Historical Novel Society's review magazine. They're a great organization if you love historical novels and history.

It's set in 1956, a time when Ben MacCarthy traveled around Ireland collecting stories for the Folklore Commission. His own life story is a mess — he didn’t rescue his beloved wife, Venetia, after she was kidnapped. She and the twins Ben fathered but never met are now back in Ireland, she under the abusive hand of the man who grabbed her. B
...more
Karen
Sep 19, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney is not the author’s best work, but it is certainly the best book of the Ben McCarthy Trilogy, which it concludes. What holds the book back the most is how unlikeable the main characters are and how much the story stretches the imagination in terms of realistic human behavior. Whatever sympathy I may have had for the plight of Ben and Venetia after the first book was mostly erased by the second book and completely destroyed in this one. They both handled ...more
D.D. Syrdal
Feb 06, 2012 D.D. Syrdal rated it it was amazing
The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney which releases February 7 tells the story of Ben MacCarthy, a man who travels around Ireland for the Irish Folklore Commission, talking to the aging keepers of local stories and myths, and recording them before they are lost for all time. In between the marvelous stories of yore, Ben weaves the narrative of his own life in colorful prose with charm and warmth.

There's real affection here for the people he encounters, his friends, his admired mentor, and he do
...more
Dana Burgess
Feb 23, 2012 Dana Burgess rated it really liked it
The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney tells the story of Ben MacCarthy, by occupation a collector of Irish stories and lore. He travels the countryside, visiting the storytellers and recording the stories. As he travels he manages to also collect a poor, young girl fleeing her abusive family; a gunrunner for the IRA; and his much abused and beaten one-time wife. The supporting characters of this unlikely cast help fill in the rest of Ben's story.

The chapters are very short, often only a page or
...more
Mirella
Feb 16, 2016 Mirella rated it it was amazing
The Last Storyteller is the third and final installment in the story of Ben McCarthy and his estranged, Venetia Kelly. The trilogy began with Venetia Kelly 19s Travelling Show which was followed by The Matchmaker of Kenmare. Spanning two decades, through these novels, Frank Delaney has given readers a glimpse of Ireland and its rich culture.

In this ambitious epic, Ben McCarthy is the main character. Venetia, his estranged wife, plays a larger role in this final book. The brilliance of this book
...more
Jim Gallen
Aug 29, 2014 Jim Gallen rated it it was amazing
I rarely read novels, but fortunately I broke out of the history-biography mold for “The Last Storyteller.” It is a story of a modern seanchai, Frank Delaney, a master of his craft and a magician with language. It is a story that takes the reader back to an Ireland of the past that is less idyllic but just as charming as we envision and into a life just as complex and just as enthralling as the land in which it is lived.

In his time, narrator Ben MacCarthy, plays a multitude of roles and touches
...more
Lydia Presley
Feb 11, 2012 Lydia Presley rated it it was amazing
Original review posted here

Here's the thing about Frank Delaney - when that blurb on sites like GoodReads and Amazon refer to him as "unparalleled" when it comes to Irish History, they aren't exaggerating.

Delaney is the real deal.

I've loved this series ever since reading the first page about Ben and Venetia in Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show. I was drawn in by the whimsical, perfectly illustrated cover of that book, and since then I have been wooed and won over by the lyricism of Delany's storyte
...more
Stephanie
Mar 23, 2012 Stephanie rated it liked it
Unfortunately, I did not realize that this book was part of a trilogy when I started reading it. It was only after I finished it that I found that out. I felt like something was missing and that I did not particularly care about Ben, the main character. I would have noticed a greater richness to the novel if I had read all of the books and really gotten the chance to understand the characters as they evolved. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories that Ben had learned and told about ...more
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'The Most Eloquent Man in the World', says NPR, about the writer, broadcaster, BBC host and Booker Prize Judge, Frank Delaney. Over a career that has lasted more than three decades, Delaney, an international-best-selling author himself, has interviewed more than 3,500 of the world's most important writers.

Frank Delaney has earned top prizes and best-seller status in a wide variety of formats, from
...more
More about Frank Delaney...

Other Books in the Series

Ireland (3 books)
  • Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show (A Novel of Ireland, #1)
  • The Matchmaker of Kenmare (A Novel of Ireland, #2)

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“Any attempt to ease guilt by justification is false. That the crimes of another appease none of one's own offenses. That, if one is being truthful, the greater pain is that of the offender. I know now that I would much rather be a victim of violence than a perpetrator” 4 likes
“Getting up, going to bed, preparing food, eating food--we futile creatures must struggle all the time. Nothing that we need comes to us; we must reach for everything.” 2 likes
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