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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  • Betty S. (Jasper, GA)


    The Walking People
    One reason I enjoy fiction is that it lets me see what it is like to live in other places and times. While reading this book, I got to spend time with a farm family in 1950s Ireland; in an immigrant neighborhood in New York in the 1960s and 70s; in Bloomingdale's Dept Store; and in a tunnel under the Hudson River where sandhogs do their dangerous work far under the streets of New York. All of this in the company of an inspiring couple whose only aim in life is to stay together and raise three good kids.

    It was time well spent. This is a great book.
  • Lisa G. (Riverwoods, IL)


    The Walking People
    As a lover of family sagas, this book did not disappoint me and I think it would be a terrific book group selection. It was hard at first to remember that the story began in rural Ireland in 1957 and not fifty or a hundred years before. Enter the Wards, a tribe of tinkers (wanderers) whose son's dream was to put down roots. As his family told him repeatedly, they had wandered 1,000 years and were not meant to stay in one place. But he does put down roots and builds a life for himself, building tunnels under New York City. The people he works with, his growing family and the tunnels themselves anchor his life. Love of one's heritage and family makes this story one that should not be missed.
  • Jennifer W. (Mamaroneck, NY)


    The Walking People
    I'd like to be able to give this book a more wholehearted recommendation because i think Ms. Keane really can write, however, i cannot do so based upon this version of the novel. There is a very good book struggling to get out--and you feel it when she writes of the Irish countryside and the lives of country people and tinkers-- there were moments when i was transported and could feel the damp walls of the cottages. Sadly, the New York portion exploring Irish immigrants to the new world struggles underneath the weight of the author's verbosity. The characters are smothered before they truly come to life. It is perhaps still worth a read because i think Ms. Keane is talented but be prepared to meander.
  • Anita R. (North Barrington, Illinois)


    The Walking People
    What an absolute treat this book was! This Irish story starts in 1956 and goes to the present. Yet it is still the same story of my in-laws who came here more than 80-years ago. This is a book about ordinary people having the courage to go into the unknown doing extra-ordinary things and never giving up whatever the hardships. There is love and loyalty to family and yet no sentimentality.The author developed every character - flaws and all - into appealing humans. No wonder this Country is great!
  • Jeanne S. (Ludlow, MA)


    Detailed settings enrich family story
    The Walking People begins in western rural Ireland near Galway in 1956 and moves to NY City. It is a lovely, gently-told family story in which settings are wonderfully detailed. Ireland, during this period of poverty, and the "walking people", a group of tinkers who are despised by the Irish farmers could have been taken from a hundred years prior as the modern world has not reached them. I loved the descriptions of this "island-like" area and Greta as a very unusual child is fascinating. It is her relationship with all the other characters throughout the years that forms the plot. While I felt somewhat unsatisfied by the ending, it is the author's choice not to tie up all the ends. I highly recommend the book
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