BookBrowse Reviews Ireland by Frank Delaney

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Ireland

A Novel

by Frank Delaney

Ireland by Frank Delaney X
Ireland by Frank Delaney
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2005, 576 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2006, 672 pages

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The history and myths of Ireland. Novel

From the book jacket: One wintry evening in 1951, an itinerant storyteller -- a Seanchai (pronounced shanachie), the very last practitioner of a fabled tradition extending back hundreds of years, arrives unannounced at a house in the Irish countryside. In exchange for a bed and a warm meal, he invites his hosts and some of their neighbors to join him by the fireside, and begins to tell stories of Ireland's history. One of his listeners, a nine-year-old boy, Ronan, grows so entranced by the story-telling that, when the old man leaves abruptly under mysterious circumstances, the boy devotes himself to finding him again - a search that will take him the next two decades and on a personal path that leads him deeper and deeper into the history and mythology of Ireland itself, in all its drama, intrigue, and heroism.

Comment: Delaney mixes myth, magic and history in a book that displays his obvious love for Ireland but which never, or at least rarely, tips over into jingoism. The stories told by the storyteller work as a body but can also be enjoyed individually, while Ronan's coming of age story provides a continuous thread.

As Kirkus Reviews puts it, 'Delaney steers clear of mawkishness and seems much less interested in calling attention to himself than in emphasizing the importance of the oral tradition to Irish memory and writing.....Reminiscent of the best of James Michener in scope and sheer crowd-pleasing potential.'

This review was originally published in March 2005, and has been updated for the February 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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