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Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show

(Ireland #1)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  806 ratings  ·  178 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Random House (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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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
Kathleen Kelly
Feb 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, literature
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
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 aroun
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing

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
Aug 06, 2011 added it
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. ...more
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
Mar 22, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Another one where my review is in the minority!

I really struggled with this one. I made it well over half way through the book. I just couldn't finish it. I think that Frank Delaney is probably a terrific storyteller, and I love a great story. His prose is certainly lyrical and definitely Irish, which is normally something I enjoy reading. But, ultimately here, I didn't care for the characters. The set up for this story took too long and there were lots of characters to keep track of and way too
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
I really enjoyed the other two Frank Delaney books I have read, but I just couldn"t stand this one and gave up in the middle. The protagonist doesn't seem to do much or have much direction or power, ane the rest of the cast just behaves badly. I really like the descriptions of Ireland and it's peoples, but I don't much like these people, and they will have to rest in the purgatory of "those books I have started but will never finish because everyone is stupid or hateful." Mr Delaney still writes ...more
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. ...more
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
LK Hunsaker
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Through the first third of this book, I nearly set it aside several times. Because of my love of other books by Delaney, I kept going, and I'm glad I did. It's a beautiful story that includes coming of age during political upheaval, moving from sheltered naivete into worldly capability, and plenty of interesting characters, with a bit of a mystery. Recommended. ...more
Mar 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
Just get on with the story i screamed throughout the reading. Def had potential but never rose to it.
Gurgles Magee
Jun 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
The worst book I have read in a long time. I actually regret finishing it. Should've quit 10 pages in. ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Most of this book is probably not worth three stars but I am being generous. I listen to the novel as an audiobook and for the first few files I didn't really know what was going on except this weird circus had come to town. Then the father ran off with the Traveling Show. Then the mother sent their adolescent son, who narrates the story, off to find his father and bring him home.

For me the story just rambled too much. It was difficult to get interested in it. I ordinarily like stories of averag
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this rambling story through the Irish countryside. It was full of wonderful Irish characters and mysteries that continued to unfold right up until the end of the book. I loved the author's ability to transport me to Ireland with the colorful phrases, anecdotes and wonderful storytelling of both the author and the characters. I look forward to my next Frank Delaney novel. ...more
Linda Harkins
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 1932 Ireland, Ben MacCarthy and his father watch a traveling variety review in the countryside. Ben’s dad decides to leave his family and join up with the caravan. Ben’s mother immediately sends her teenaged son on a journey to find and bring his father back home. To complicate matters, Ben—like his dad—falls for Venetia Kelly, the star of the show. Author Frank Delaney spins a wonderful yarn in the Irish storytelling fashion. Delightful reading!
Oct 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
This is a book I had to repeatedly force myself to pick up and read. As much as I loved Ireland and Shannon is how much I disliked this book. It drones on and on and on about the same scenario of following the traveling show across Ireland. The last two chapters at least made the book come together so that I could at least give it one star. I have all three books in this trilogy. I hope the next one is better or I may not make it through that one!
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever read/listened to a book and felt like you're doing it at the wrong time? I engaged with this story as an audio book and I remember thinking, "I might like this more in about 20 years." It's hard to explain, but I just felt like this author and I shouldn't have met yet. ...more
What the FLOCK with the ending there, Frank? WHAT THE FLOCK?

A million demerits awarded to an otherwise lyrical, vivid, and moving fable with a lovely and lively narration by the author.

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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

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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