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The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland Paperback – January 17, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Delaney's panoramic sequel to Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, matchmaker Kate Begley plies her profession in neutral WWII Ireland. Into her life come Venetia Kelly narrator Ben MacCarthy, whose wife has gone missing, and Charles Miller, a U.S. intelligence officer who sends Kate and Ben on a secret assignment to France. Upon their return, Kate and Charles marry, but after D-Day, Charles disappears while on a dangerous mission, and Kate enlists Ben's help in finding him. They travel to France and Germany, where they stumble across the German army about to launch its last-gasp assault in the Ardennes and end up questioning the wisdom of remaining neutral in the face of overwhelming evil. An expert at mining Irish lore for congenial fiction, Delaney spins an exciting yarn of romance and intrigue, and, in Kate, he has created an indomitable, unforgettable character. Though the novel's leisurely pace is at odds with the wartime plot (and the subplot about Ben's missing wife will be confusing to those not familiar with the previous book), Delaney wrings the pulp out of a Jack Higgins–like premise and turns it into something more satisfyingly literary. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Delaney re-earns his reputation for total reader engagement with his latest deeply thought-out novel, which weaves together various strands of the general theme of searching. In memoir format, narrated by a man in old age, the plot finds its provocative place in the WWII years and the immediate postwar years; in substance, it combines the charm of an Irish yarn with the excitement of a political thriller and the romance of a 1940s war movie. Young Ben McCarthy, fulfilling his job with the Irish Folklore Commission, which means taking story-gathering trips around Ireland, one day meets a young woman, Kate Begley, who makes her living as a matchmaker, connecting local unmarried women and men. The encounter is fateful. “She led me into trouble so deep that my own father wouldn’t have found me,” Ben recalls. Although Ben has, in addition to his professional search project, a personal one—looking for his missing wife—he finds Kate so mesmerizing that he accompanies her on a wild adventure taking them from neutral Ireland into hardly neutral continental Europe, first to retrieve for the U.S. Army a German man who has knowledge the Americans want and then to track down the American officer Kate improbably marries, and with whom she promptly loses touch. As artillery guns fire overhead, hearts ache: a compelling combination. High-Demand Backstory: This “chronic” best-selling author will be interviewed about his latest book on NPR, will do in-person promotion in New York, and will be reaching out to book clubs, for which his novels are perfect. (And his publisher is scheduled to heavily promote this one to libraries.) --Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Novel of Ireland (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812979745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812979749
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

'The Most Eloquent Man in the World', says NPR, about the writer, broadcaster, BBC host and Booker Prize Judge, Frank Delaney. Over a career of interviews that has lasted more than three decades, Delaney, an international-best-selling author himself, has interviewed more than 3,500 of the world's most important writers.

Frank Delaney has earned top prizes and best-seller status in a wide variety of formats, from prolific author, a polished broadcaster on both television and radio, to journalist, correspondent, screenwriter, lecturer, playwright and scholar. He has been the president of the Samuel Johnson Society, president of the UK Book Trust, and the Literary Director of the famed Edinburgh Festival.

A judge of many literary prizes (including the famous Booker), Delaney also created landmark programs and passionate documentaries on many subjects including Joyce, Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Hemingway, Mailer, Matisse, Van Gogh and the vitality and organic growth of the English language - his famed BBC show on the way we speak, Word of Mouth, is still heard all over the English-speaking world. And his six-part series, The Celts, originally broadcast in forty countries, is still in active DVD distribution, some twenty years after its launch.

Mr. Delaney lectures all over the world, writes every day, and has created a significant podcast series: Re:Joyce, deconstructing, examining and illuminating James Joyce's Ulysses line-by-line, in accessible and entertaining five-minute broadcasts, posted each week on this website. The project is estimated to run a quarter of a century.

Born and raised in County Tipperary, Ireland, Delaney spent more than twenty-five years in England before moving to the United States in 2002. His first 'American' book was the New York Times Bestseller, Ireland. His second, the non-fiction Simple Courage, was chosen as one of the top five books of the year by the American Library Association. Since 2006, he has published five Novels of Ireland, all addressing, decade by decade, the twentieth century history of his homeland. His latest novel, "The Last Storyteller" (Random House, February 7th 2012) celebrates the mysteries of the ancient oral tradition as the last itinerant storytellers work their magic in 1950's Ireland.

Mr. Delaney lives in Litchfield County, Connecticut, with his wife, writer and marketer, Diane Meier.

Delaney broadcasts "Re:Joyce," a weekly podcast on James Joyce's "Ulysses" on his website You can find his daily writing tips on Twitter:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Summer2015 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This 400 page novel opens with our narrator, Ben McCarthy, an Irish folklore collector, reminiscing about events that occurred in his life, decades ago when he was in his 20's and 30's. It was 1943 when he first met Kate Begley, the Matchmaker of Kenmare. He was 29, she 25. World War II was raging, and tiny Ireland was trying to stay out of it by declaring itself a neutral party to the war.

Although opposites in many ways, Ben and Kate were nevertheless drawn toward each other from the very beginning. As their lives became intertwined through shared adventures and misadventures that included risking their lives helping the American war efforts in Europe, they came to know each other in ways that not even their respective spouses were privileged to.

Throughout the novel, readers would be kept wondering if Ben and Kate's ever deepening friendship would blossom into mutual love. For Ben, there was the question of his holding on to memories of his actress wife, Venetia Kelly, who had been missing for years. Where could she be? Was she still alive? For Kate, the question would revolve around her loyalty to her "soulmate" Charles Miller, an American Intelligence Officer whose dangerous duties would bring tragic changes to his, Kate's, and Ben's lives.

This epic story of faith and sacrifice tended to plod along and meander with digressions into folklores, legends, and factual historical tidbits that I did not always care for (the folklores and legends more so than the historical tidbits). The frequent telegraphing of ominous things to come sometimes proved tedious to me, especially in the less interesting first half of the novel.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By amazonbuyer on January 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I took a risk and thought I'd venture out of the autobiography/biography binge and into something a little lighter. This book seemed to be a perfect change.

At first "The Matchmaker of Kenmare" drew me right in. Characters were being formed and I liked them (Ben MacCarthey, Kate Begly). There was a little mystery to the plot and it intrigued me. But, before long, the plot seemed to slow down and go in dreadful circles while the characters that had been formed seemed to vector off in ways that didn't seem in line with their foundations, especially that of Kate Begley. I also felt like the prose needed some paring down in many spots in order to move the plot forward.

As Ben and Kate slogged through Europe looking for Charles Miller, I wearied of their hunt. The whole search for Charles seemed contrived and became annoying. The plot and characters had lost their spark and their bearings and so did I as the reader.

I finished the book but felt quite numb by the end. That said, I did come away with two favorite quotes, but they were in the first quarter of the work, before the book and I both lost heart:

1. "To state the painfully obvious is a sign of low intelligence." Yes, I know it's been said before but I love this iteration.

2. "...he had one of Life's greater gifts--the gift of being believed." This is my favorite quote because it made me laugh out loud. I know people like this, but had never been able to verbalize my thoughts about them.

Even though I didn't care for this novel, it is clear that Delaney is an adept writer, has a healthy wit, and a wonderful ability to make nebulous thoughts about people take a clear form. I like that, I just wasn't crazy about this particular story for reasons listed above. I am sure others will fall in love with it.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lydia on February 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't introduced to Frank Delaney until fairly recently, when I stumbled across the gorgeous cover of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show sitting on the table at my local Barnes and Noble. I was fascinated by the old-style of the art-work, the catchy title and the promise of a story that was new and different to me. I wasn't disappointed by it.

I was thrilled to learn that there was a sequel in the works and even more thrilled to be contacted with an offer of an advanced copy. It was with great anticipation I made time in my reading schedule for The Matchmaker of Kenmare, and I was well-rewarded for doing so.

The first few pages in this book are so lyrical and moving that I savored each and every word like it was the last bite of my mom's chocolate pie. Delaney's method of describing people is superb - I called my dad more than once just to read to him the beauty of what I was seeing on the page. I found myself crying more than once as well, because it was that perfect.

I'm not one of those people to write a bunch of stuff about the story that will spoil it for others before the book even is released - so I'll say this in summary. The Matchmaker of Kenmare enchanted me and has firmly solidified my "fan-girlishness" when it comes to Frank Delaney. I have a love for (and desire to see) Ireland, I get giddy when confronted with anything Irish and The Matchmaker of Kenmare filled my imagination with sights, sounds and so much more - not just of pleasant, pretty Ireland, but gritty war-time Ireland. Each side was perfect in its own way and I cannot wait to see what Delaney will do next.
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