Advance reader reviews of The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane.

The Walking People

A Novel

By Mary Beth Keane

The Walking People
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  • Published in USA  May 2009,
    416 pages.

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There are currently 19 member reviews
for The Walking People
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  • Diane L. (Auburn, NY)


    An Interesting Tale of Irish Immigrants
    As one of Irish heritage, I was drawn to The Walking Peopl by Mary Beth Keane. The author pulls the reader into the world of Irish immigrants Michael and Greta Ward, telling us their story first as country people living in a remote Irish town.

    The story gains steam when Greta, her sister Johanna, and their friend Michael move to America as teens. Keane realistically portrays the desire and difficulties of the immigrants to assimilate and succeed in a different culture. Her description of life in New York City in the 1960's intrigued me.

    The section composed of letters Greta sent back home to Ireland is especially appealing, giving the reader more of an immediate understanding of the characters. Greta is a memorable, well-drawn fictional character.

    The last half of the book held my attention more, and I raced through to the conclusion. Fans of Alice McDermott, and anyone who came from Irish immigrants, will enjoy this debut novel.
  • Barbara E. (rockville, MD)


    The Walking People
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The characters were very well developed and the story, told over some 50 years, is interesting and enjoyable. Every time I thought I knew what was coming next, the author surprised me. It was a pleasure to trace the joys and sorrows of this multi-generational family. The insights into the traveler society were very illuminating as well.
  • Jinny (Fremont, CA)


    Satisfying Family Saga
    Family sagas are a favorite genre of mine and The Walking People does not disappoint.

    Although it focuses on one generation, it has the feel of a multi-generational tale, given the primitive hardscrabble existence described in the earlier part of the book, before the characters traveled from Ireland to New York City. Like a series of consecutive anecdotes, it seems to live on theme rather than plot; this works very well considering the author's gift for character and dialog. The descriptions are vivid, with breathtaking imagery and the characters are real and dear. I will look forward to more books by Mary Beth Keane.
  • Denice B. (Fort Bragg, CA)


    The Walking People
    In spite of some slightly confusing chronology, I fell in love with this engaging story as it moved forward with great detail but without rambling. The dialogue was believable and the language artful, with very vivid characters distinct enough to keep straight. About half way through the book, however, I grew much less enamored of the story when it makes a geographic and time shift. The writing lost its lilt, growing wooden and tedious. I lost interest in the characters as the writer “told” us rather than “showed” us about them in the second half of the book.
  • Jean N. (New Richmond, OH)


    The Walking People
    The author described the various unusual settings in such a complete way that I experienced each one as though I was there. I was glad to witness the main character, Greta, throw off the labels placed on her as a young girl, and grow into a woman of unexpected strengths and abilities.

    This book was very original. I can't say that it reminded me of any other book that I've read. But, I can say I loved it and I'd highly recommend it as a favorite new title to my friends.
  • Joyce K. (El Segundo, CA)


    Loved It!!!
    I loved this book, its probably the best light read I've had in a long time. The characters are ordinary hardworking people but they are so colorful. I love the way the book starts at the present day and then moves back in time and tells how they got to be where they are now. I love family sagas and I love Irish family sagas even more. Greta is such a lovable character and I couldn't read this book fast enough. I have recommended this book to my friends and they will be pleased with it.
  • Penny N. (Saginaw, MI)


    A 1960s immigration story
    Author Mary Beth Keane gives the reader a poignant but original tale of Irish immigrants. The story starts with a poverty stricken family in an almost empty area of Ireland, the Cahills. Then we meet the Ward family who are gypsies. It's a young Michael Ward and the two Cahill daughters, each barely grown and naive, who leave their families. We live their lives throughout the story - cheering the successes they are able to build a life around. Life is not perfect in their new home - New York City - but the family prevails. Though very well-written and engaging the story bogs down in the last 100 pages. Still overall it's an interesting and believable for anyone to enjoy.
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