Excerpt from Ireland by Frank Delaney, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ireland

A Novel

by Frank Delaney

Ireland by Frank Delaney
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2005, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2006, 672 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Wonderfully, it was the boy who saw him first. He glanced out of his bedroom window, then looked again and harder -- and dared to hope. No, it was not a trick of the light; a tall figure in a ragged black coat and a ruined old hat was walking down the darkening hillside; and he was heading toward the house.

The stranger's face was chalk-white with exhaustion, and he stumbled on the rough ground, his hands held out before him like a sleepwalker's. He looked like a scarecrow deserting his post. High grasses soaked his cracked boots and drenched his coat hems. A mist like a silver veil floated above the ground, broke at his knees, and reassembled itself in his wake. In this twilight fog, mysterious shapes appeared and dematerialized, so that the pale walker was never sure he had seen merely the branches of trees or the arms of mythic dancers come to greet him. Closer in, the dark shadows of the tree trunks twisted into harsh and threatening faces.

Across the fields he saw the yellow glow of lamplight in the window of a house, and he raised his eyes to the sky in some kind of thanks. With no fog on high, the early stars glinted like grains of salt. He became aware of cattle nearby, not yet taken indoors in this mild winter. Many lay curled on the grass where they chewed the cud. As he passed, one or two lurched to their feet in alarm and lumbered off.

And in the house ahead, the boy, nine years old and blond as hay, raced downstairs, calling wildly to his father.



The stranger's bones hurt, and his lungs ached almost beyond endurance. Hunger intensified his troubles; he'd eaten one meal in three days. The calm light in the window ahead pulled him forward in hope. If he held their attention, he might get bed and board for a week -- and maybe more. In the days of the High King at Tara, a storyteller stayed seven days and seven nights. Did they know that? Nobody knew anything anymore.

With luck, though, the child in this house would help. Children want stories, and the parents might stretch their hospitality, fired by the delight in the boy's eyes. Unlike last night's billet; high up on a hill farm, he had slept in a loft above the cows, where the east wind got at his bones. The ignorant people there, who had no use for stories, gave him no food and closed their fireside to him. It happened more and more.

But this house would surely prove better; and it was, after all, Halloween, the great time of the year for telling stories, the time of All Souls', when the dead had permission to rise from their graves and prowl the land.

Over the last few hundred yards the fog dispersed into flitters and wisps. At the house, a small white gate opened from the lane into a country garden, which in summer would shine with bunched roses and morning glories and tresses of sweet pea. The tall man in the black coat rapped twice on a brass knocker. Immediately, the husband of the house opened the door.

"Aha!"

The stranger and the householder exchanged a solid handshake, eye to eye. Behind his father, the boy waited in the hallway, jigging from foot to foot.

"God save all here," said the stranger; he hunched his shoulders nervously.

Over the years, his voice had grown deep and rotund. His manner and speech had an unusual formality, with trace elements of stately English from an earlier century and a hint of classical learning. Consequently, his language rang generally more colorful than the speech of the people he met every day.

The man of the house smiled and stood aside.

"Come in. You brought clear skies to us."

"With your permission, I'll bring clear thoughts too."

"Your coat is wet -- let me take it."

The man extended a cold, bony hand to the boy peeking around his father's waist.

"A fine boy. God save you too, ma'am!" called the Storyteller to the woman of the house.

From Ireland by Frank Delaney. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission, Harper Collins. Copyright Frank Delaney 2004; all rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...
  • Book Jacket: Temporary People
    Temporary People
    by Deepak Unnikrishnan
    In this powerful and innovative collection of 28 short stories, Deepak Unnikrishnan presents a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

No pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -