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Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show: A Novel of Ireland
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Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show: A Novel of Ireland (Ireland #1)

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  666 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
“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 bestselling 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 histor
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2010)
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Donna Davis
Frank Delaney was well known in the UK before those of us in the United States had heard of him; NPR has called him “the most eloquent man in the world”, and after I had read Ireland, an epic novel that has to do with a storyteller and so much more, I was sold. I wasn’t blogging or reviewing back then, and after I had turned the last page, I told my family that I wanted to read everything else Delaney had written. Then I received this novel as a Christmas present, and was underwhelmed. I set it ...more
Mar 19, 2010 C rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disliked
Any book lover knows there are some books that find you at the right time in your life -- a book that couldn't have impacted you more at any other time. But there are also books that are the worst you could read at a particular moment in your life. Books affect readers differently depending on what is going on in the reader's life and what is happening in the book. 'Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show' was one of the worst books I could have read right now. I struggled with this one.

Wandering arou
Apr 19, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From my blog...[return]Imagine yourself settling in with your favourite beverage and listening to a longtime acquaintance recalling a pivotal tale from his past. Such is the manner Frank Delaney tells the story of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show. The narrator tells the tale of an 18-year-old boy in the rather turbulent times in Ireland in 1932-33, yet the tale is not told straight from the 18-year-old, but rather from a much older man telling the tale of his youth. In a masterful way, Delaney com ...more
Kathleen Kelly
Feb 22, 2010 Kathleen Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show is a beautifully written story about Irish families living in a very turbulent time in Ireland's history.The narrator, Ben MacCarthy is telling the story of what happens when his father deserts the family to follow this "traveling show" and the beautiful Venetia and her mother Sarah, who are the main actors. As Ben tells his story he often digresses, but this is a trait of the storytellers of Ireland, to stray off topic. At first the authors style of writing was ha ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book had some good moments, but not enough of them to keep me reading to the end.

As with many Irish stories, there is sly, witty humour, and morbidly depressing drama in about equal propotions in this story of a young Irish man who's father decides on the spur of the moment to run off and follow the travelling show that comes to town. Without a second thought the man just leaves and goes with the show and the entrancing woman - the Venetia Kelly of the title - who he has completely fallen f
I was privileged enough to listen to this book on audio, narrated by the author himself. His Irish lilt was a joy to listen to and of course his characters simply came alive. By far the best one for me was Ben's father - the author got the stutter just perfectly and I loved every line he spoke. Which probably makes you wonder why I only gave the book 3 stars. In fact, it should be 3.5 because it was a good book, but it just didn't really go anywhere. There was a lot of build up, and many digress ...more
I love language. The story line in Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show is not too complex and not necessarily satisfying, but the language is exquisite. I had the pleasure of listening to Delaney read the book which added to the enjoyment. The book is basically about power and politics in 1932 in the new Irish state. The real pleasure in Delaney is the Digressions. The rambling patter of Irish speech is a treat to listen to. Do yourself a favor and read it out loud to yourself.
Mar 21, 2011 Psirene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Just get on with the story i screamed throughout the reading. Def had potential but never rose to it.
Jun 29, 2010 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A young man on the cusp of adulthood has lead a relatively good life up until that point. His father is a well-respected farmer and seems happily married to his mother. Everything changes, however, when he attends a traveling show performance with his father one evening. His father refuses to return home, emphatic that he is joining the show. The elder MacCarthy is smitten with the show's lead act, Venetia Kelly, an interest that had begun two years before, unbeknownst to the son. Ben MacCarthy ...more
Feb 17, 2010 Serena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney is a coming of age novel set during a tumultuous time in Ireland's history. Set in the early 1930s, Ireland and Britain were in the midst of an economic battle in which farmers refused to keep paying back the loans that enabled them to buy farmland. And Britain consequently began placing tariffs on all Irish goods -- all the while the political system in Ireland was tenuous.

"Of course it was all still being run by politicians. We have an old saying
Mar 14, 2010 Myckyee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was offered Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show to review I was quite excited and felt I was in for a treat.

I found the story to be refreshingly different. Set amid the politics of Ireland in the early twentieth century, the plot revolves around Ben McCarthy and his quest to bring his errant father back home to the family farm. This character, Ben, is imbued with warmth, humour and strength – much more strength than that shown by either of his parents. Other characters, King Kelly and his daughter
Feb 09, 2013 Trisha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Frank Delaney is, true to his Irish heritage, a great story teller so it’s appropriate that the omniscient narrator of this novel makes it clear from the outset that he’s about to tell us one helluva good story. He’s also prone to digress (something he warns us about from the very beginning) and so during the course of this amazing tale that centers around events that took place in 1932 when Ireland’s political situation was far from stable we are constantly being pulled away from the action of ...more

You must LISTEN to it. The author reads it and is the best narration I have ever heard. He has a beautiful Irish accent and makes you feel like you are in the room. It is full of Irish lore, wit, superstition, stories and eccentric characters. It's set in the 1930s when Ireland was gaining independence. Politics was the main topic but it's about everyday Irish people. His descriptions of people are often hilarious. One man's eyebrows are compared to a caterpillar that farmer
Feb 08, 2010 Rosa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Wow I loved this book. Don't be discouraged by the first 30 pages, it starts off slow. But once Frank Delaney gets you involved in the story, there is no turning back. I loved the main character, Ben. Delaney made him loveable and believable; a real hero. I thought Delaney's great ability with storytelling made this book all the more worthwhile to read. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story and who wants to learn more about acting, traveling shows, history, Ireland ...more
Jul 09, 2015 Citra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Complete review is here :

Phew, it is indeed a long story and this is my first time reading Delaney's book. It is very touching despite of my failure understanding the author's sense of humor. It is one of the books which requires you to savor each word and sentence. Not for those of you who are looking for a quick read, but if you'd like to give it a try, it is worth your time.
Feb 12, 2010 pea. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, first-reads
the story starts off slow... it weaves in more and more threads.( at a point i worried that it might turn into some corny story with magical people... it did not.) it became a lovely fabric until the last few chapters. they were a disappointment, threadbare. i will not add any spoilers as to why i feel this way... it did not make reading the book a waste. i would highly recommend this for a bookclub choice do to the lengthy and interesting discussion options from the ending alone.
I'm a linear person, I like a beginning a middle and an end. I don't care for wildly meandering, more tangent than plot kinds of stories. While I did appreciate Delany's humor I didn't care for the long meandering path he was taking in order to tell this story. I dislike short stories, this was like a collection of very short stories, I listened to 16 chapters and then gave up. I did love the author's voice though.
I love Frank Delaney. I have been a fan since meeting him at an Author event at Foothill College. I haven't read any of his stuff in a while, so I was very excited when this one came up on my Randomizer challenge for 2015. I love his character development and his amazing storytelling and the seamless weaving of historical events into the story. The effect is magical. Highly recommended!
Mar 16, 2010 Siobhan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frank Delaney is certainly the writer closest to bardic storytelling tradition. His books pull you in like a peat fire on the hearth of a cottage. Get Venetia Kelly as a gift to yourself in honor of St. Patricks Day.
Mar 06, 2010 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, ireland
I can honestly say that this is one of the great books I will read this year, and certainly may favorite of Frank Delaney's books. Highly recommended not only as a historical novel, but as a book about growing up.
Dec 28, 2016 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Especially with the so-called election of Donald Trump, I found this to be enlightening with regard to Ireland's politics in the 1930s, but I also think the story telling was exceptional and the story and cast of characters engaging. It is one of those books that I was sorry to see end.
Mike Wood
May 23, 2017 Mike Wood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engaging and entertaining in ways very similar to the titular show, mixing light and dark moments, serious and bawdy stories, and politics and family saga into one meandering tale.
Frank Delany’s latest book, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, once again delves into the Irish psyche at a critical juncture in Irish history. Ben McCarthy is the hero/narrator of this story which is set primarily in 1930’s Ireland. His life changes forever the day his father, a normally staid farmer, abandons the family and runs off to join Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show. It’s a tumultuous time in Ben’s life, and in Irish history. Delany mixes historical-fiction focused on the Irish political cli ...more
I chose this book, looking for a funny , light hearted tale of Ireland, which this is definitely not. A deadly serious story of "The Troubles" and how the politics affect one family, who would have enough problems without them. As both father and son fall in love with the same woman, an enchanting traveling actress, heartbreak is sure to follow, although not in the ways one might expect. I will admit to being confused by the inner turmoil in Ireland in the thirties, the fascist blue shirts who o ...more
Sandra Olshaski
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show by Frank Delaney (Rated: C)
Random House
ISBN 978-1-4000-6783-1
Published 2010
Hardcover 427 pages
The opening words of this novel captured my attention. As the novel progressed, however, I was disappointed because I expected a serious novel but seemed to be confronted with a comedy, for example: the writer’s references to “Tiny Digressions, Important Digressions, Relatively Important Digressions , and Unimportant Digressions”. Initially, I was put o
Mar 18, 2010 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book opens with the announcement of the birth of the title character Venetia Kelly, as told by the narrator, Ben McCarthy. It is clear from the first paragraph, if not from the novel's title, that Venetia Kelly will play a pivotal role in this story. It is almost as if she is ordained with mythical power even from birth. But rather than immediately dive into Venetia's story, Delaney carefully weaves a tapestry of characters which surround or are connected to Venetia in some way. At first, it ...more
Gail Cooke
Mar 17, 2010 Gail Cooke rated it it was amazing

The voice. It's a most remarkable voice, magical, mesmerizing drawing one in. Through countless audiobooks never has a reader (in this case, of course, also the author) so captured me. I dislike cliches but this fellow could read a city census and there would be applause. Frank Delaney's voice is modulated, low, strong with merely a hint of the Irish. His words can tumble, spring forth to cast a spell or somberly intone. His narration is rich with understanding, and ripe with experience: I've be
Toni Osborne
The story is set in 1932 Ireland, a time when tensions are high due to the upcoming elections and the endless rhetoric by those vying for power. Ben McCarthy narrates this story as a man in his 50's reflecting on events that took place when he was an 18 year old on the verge of manhood.

The first 100 pages take us back and forth between NYC and Ireland and between members of the Kelly and McCarthy families. Mr. Delaney carefully weaves a tapestry of characters that surround and are connected with
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show: A Novel of Ireland
by Frank Delaney
Audio book narrated by author.

Whew! Although I could sit and listen to Frank Delaney speak all day long--he is as eloquent as claimed and has a truly beautiful voice--I've got to admit I needed patience to get through his book. The underlying story told by Ben MacCarthy about how he and his father first met Venetia Kelly after watching her perform at a traveling carnival and the upheaval in their lives that meeting caused,
Jul 12, 2013 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads, fiction
I found that this book didn't live up to what I've read previously by the author. I wasn't pulled in like his previous novels have done for me and I found that magic just wasn't there either. It was still a good read, but it didn't have the same pull as I expected.

I did enjoy the narrative and writing style of the book, it wasn't as lyrical as I've read in the past, but it was one of my favourite parts of the book. I love how the author tells the story. I also really enjoyed the historical and
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Frank Delany 1 4 Sep 10, 2013 05:22AM  
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Frank Delaney was an author, a broadcaster on both television and radio, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, lecturer, and a judge of many literary prizes. Delaney interviewed more than 3,500 of the world's most important writers. NPR called him 'The Most Eloquent Man in the World'. Delaney was born and raised in County Tipperary, Ireland, spent more than twenty-five years in England before movi ...more
More about Frank Delaney...

Other Books in the Series

Ireland (3 books)
  • The Matchmaker of Kenmare (A Novel of Ireland, #2)
  • The Last Storyteller (A Novel of Ireland, #3)

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