Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review: Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show

Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney by all appearances contained within it's pages the type of story I like best: history, adventure, and a touch of intrigue or politics. I am a patient reader, especially when a book looks so promising. I give such authors time to build the characters, set up the plot, and deliver a great story.

This time I was slightly disappointed, though not through the entire book. The first hundred pages took me probably a week to get through. I was counting on the rest of the story to take flight once the groundwork was laid. The next hundred pages were slightly more intriguing. Once I was halfway through the book I I was finally engaged and read the rest of the book in a day.

The book is narrated by an eighteen year old boy named Ben MacCarthy. He and his family are caught up in the plot of an aspiring political candidate. Unraveling the mess and the truth takes time and perseverance. His father runs off with a traveling show leaving his wife and son in near financial ruin. The first half of the book Ben travels the countryside trying to persuade his father to come home. The next half of the book is different but much more engaging.

Along the way, readers are shown the Irish countryside while being introduced to it's folklore. The ending was not what I had expected yet it was very clever and seemed to fit with the overall narrated tone.

Would I recommend this book? If you like novels that unwrap themselves slowly and methodically and you especially enjoy Irish historical fiction novels (1932-33) , and have the patience for diversions, then yes. Page 10 sums it up:

"I ask your forgiveness in advance. We Irish do this digression stunt. We're so damn pleased with our ability to talk hind legs off donkeys, that we assume people like to listen. "

Believe it or not, that is not the only mention of donkeys in this book (see, a diversion).

My husband is Irish and when I read that line to him, he responded that a truer statement has never been made.

Overall, 3.5 stars from me. I wish I could have given this book more because parts of it were great. Yet, considering the amount of time it took me to become engaged with this book, if I had not received this as part of Early Reviewers I would have given up one hundred pages in. I also feel this book might be more interesting in audio book form.


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