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Ireland: A Novel Paperback – February 5, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
BBC reporter Delaney's fictionalized history of his native country, an Irish bestseller, is a sprawling, riveting read, a book of stories melding into a novel wrapped up in an Irish history text. In 1951, when Ronan O'Mara is nine, he meets the aging itinerant Storyteller, who emerges out a "silver veil" of Irish mist, hoping to trade a yarn for a hot meal. Welcomed inside, the Storyteller lights his pipe and begins, telling of the architect of Newgrange, who built "a marvelous, immortal structure... before Stonehenge in England, before the pyramids of Egypt," and the dentally challenged King Conor of Ulster, who tried, and failed, to outsmart his wife. The stories utterly captivate the young Ronan ("This is the best thing that ever, ever happened"), and they'll draw readers in, too, with their warriors and kings, drinkers and devils, all rendered cleanly and without undue sentimentality. When Ronan's mother banishes the Storyteller for telling a blasphemous tale, Ronan vows to find him. He also becomes fascinated by Irish myth and legend, and, as the years pass, he discovers his own gift for storytelling. Eventually, he sets off, traversing Ireland on foot to find his mentor. Past and present weave together as Delaney entwines the lives of the Storyteller and Ronan in this rich and satisfying book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
To paraphrase a World War I song, it's a long, long way to the end of Delaney's reland--in more ways than one. In 1951, Alison O'Mara cast out the "last" seanachi, a wandering storyteller who told stories from Irish history and myth to the household and neighbors in exchange for housing and food. The old man left, taking with him the family's peace, stirring up family tensions and secrets. By alternating folklore and historical stories with the story of the O'Mara family, Delaney paints a vivid portrait of the country and fits both storyteller and family into it. There's something for everyone in this book: newcomers to Irish history will relish the rich stories based on real and imagined characters, while readers familiar with tales of the old sod will plow through the stories to find out what happens with the O'Maras. Heavy publicity will ensure demand for this novel, which recalls the work of James Michener and will appeal to readers of family sagas and popular historical fiction. Ellen Loughran
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
Another criticism was that he was a "name dropper". Well, this is a novel about a specific time in Irish history so of course some important figures of the time would be mentioned. I found it amusing how the narrator stumbled upon & became involved with these folks.
I highly recommend this book but suggest Ireland: A Novel be read 1st.
Frank Rutherfurd is another really good writer but read the reviews carefully. It looks like there are 4 books about Ireland but there are really only 2. 2 are the same book published with a different title. If you love or at least are interested in Irish history & good stories, these 2 authors are a great place to start!! I have another Frank Delaney book on the way!!
It was frustrating at times, however, as the narrative was provided by two or three or four characters and it was difficult to determine which of the characters was speaking (or writing). Eventually, it became obvious but it can be frustrating if a new train of thought was started and the reader had to struggle to realize who was speaking. This is probably a more serious problem if you are trying to read a little bit at a time before falling asleep.
I was given the bound copy of the book (soft cover) but immediately looked to find it on Kindle. I was happy it was available. Much easier to read that way.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a relaxing fireside book, especially on a cold rainy day.