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The Walking People

by Mary Beth Keane

The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane X
The Walking People by Mary Beth Keane
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  • First Published:
    May 2009, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2010, 416 pages

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There are currently 19 member reviews
for The Walking People
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  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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Beyond the Book:
  Irish Travellers

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