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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  • Laura R. (Wheeling, IL)


    The Walking People
    The book is a good read but not a page-turner. It begins in Ireland and ends in America. What was of interest to me were the details of Irish life on the coast such as the poaching of salmon etc. The novel is character driven, yet I am still puzzled as to the nature of the main character. There are many descriptions of her, yet she still remains hazy in my mind. The other characters are more well defined, yet still not as understandable as I would have liked. The Walking People is akin to a mystery/saga but without the usual sex and romance that usually inhabits these books. I would recommend it to adults and to young adults who are studying units on immigration.
  • Joan P. (Owego, NY)


    The Walking People
    This is the kind of book I enjoy. It tracks a family from youth to old age. Along the way I learned a lot. It was interesting to find out that Ireland in the 1950's was a poor nation and families were still emigrating to the United States hoping to find financial security. I also learned about the life of sandhogs tunneling far below the earth's surface to build and repair the many tunnels that serve New York City.

    It is the story of sisters, Johanna and Greta, and Michael Ward. Michael is a gypsy - a walking person - that longs to settle down and live as most people do. Greta is a puzzle to me. Is she slow or is she capable. She holds a job but doesn't progress even when offered a promotion. She longs for home but stays in America. Johanna is the shooting star. She has ambition and a longing for adventure. Her life takes a surprising turn and the adventurer goes home. The three live for years with a secret that is always in the background waiting to be revealed.
  • Christine S. (Highland, UT)


    Strange Title
    This book sounded so interesting and I was thrilled to receive it as a First Impression. Then ... it was hard to get into. I did like the story of the small town, the tinkers and Greta's relationships with her family members. Fast forward - as sagas do. All the different parts of the books followed Greta and her "new" family life. I actually felt like there was little connection to the old family and/or life. Coming to the U.S., it was Greta that lost her many pages of previous characteristics that made her endearing. [edited to remove plot spoilers]. Why was the title The Walking People? It should have been Greta's Losses.
  • Joan N. (Evanston, IL)


    Irish Sisters Emigrate to America
    I thoroughly enjoyed “The Walking People,” by Mary Beth Keane. I quickly became wrapped up in the doings of the two sisters, Greta and Joanna Cahill, first in Ballyroan, Ireland, and then when they emigrated with Michael Ward to New York. Their poverty didn’t seem as abject as that in “Angela’s Ashes,” and they were survivors, especially in traveling to the United States. The New York scenes, in particular, seemed gritty and realistic in the way they struggled and made friends with people like themselves. I heartily recommend this novel.
  • Gail B. (Albuquerque, NM)


    Grand Debut
    "The Walking People" had me from the prologue. Beginning in dank tunnels six hundred feet below the streets of New York, segue back fifty years to the west of Ireland as ancient customs crumble along with abandoned villages in the path of 20th century technology. Characters -- harsh, hard-working, secretive, loving -- evolve as they strive to adapt to the modern world.
  • Sylvia G. (Scottsdale, AZ)


    Worth a Walk
    I love debut novels and The Walking People didn't disappoint. With good storytelling and lyrical writing, Keane tells the story of an Irish family from 1956 to the present. The characters in this novel are so well fleshed out and both very real and appealing. If I had to quibble with anything, I would say the ending seemed a little forced and a bit out of focus compared to the rest of the book. A good read and I look forward to Keane's next book.
  • Andrea S. (Lafayette, IN)


    The Walking People
    The Walking People is an interesting look at the life of one Irish immigrant family from the mid twentieth century - both in Ireland and America. I found the parts about travelers - what we would call gypsies - and the life on Ireland's west coast very interesting. The characters were interesting and I thought the writing was good.

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. I am a fan of other novels about Irish family life, but this one did not grab my attention from the start. I did become very interested in it about halfway through, and read almost nonstop till the end. The end was disappointing - it just ended. It didn't feel like the end of the story. I thought there were more chapters, but there were not!
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