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The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland Paperback – January 17, 2012
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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.
*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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The main story is rather dull. It's about a quasi-love triangle that does have some interesting and timeless elements. Unfortunately, the whole Pieper thread combined with the giraffe -- shades of Water For Elephants? -- was too jarring for me to enjoy the book.
Nevertheless, and with the thought that in trilogies the second installment is typically the weakest, I will soldier on -- sorry, I couldn't resist -- and take up The Last Storyteller.
Every author has a hiccup. This was Mr. Delaney's.
We meet various characters who are quite powerful in the early days of WWII and enable Kate and Ben to go where they will. Ireland is attempting to remain neutral, if that is ever possible. After some beautiful scenes where potential lovers are introduced to each other for marriage purposes, the tale turns more sinister. Kate and Ben abet the kidnapping of a spy who has information vital about Hitler and his plans for the war and world domination. Kate then falls in love with a military spy, Charles Miller, and they marry after making a secret agreement that is rather mysterious itself. Charles goes missing in war, is reported to be dead, and Kate refuses to believe he is gone.
Thus begins a journey through storms of rain, bullets, bombings, snow, massacres, and so much more that bring the brutal reality of the war to the reader in a breathtaking manner. The horror grows and Ben's thoughts about neutrality undergo traumatic changes. War is Hell, indeed!
This novel begins with a tepid, endearing start but quickly evolves into a blood-curdling, adventurous, and memorable war story. We keep waiting for Kate and Ben will move beyond friendship; they do but not in the way the reader is anticipating. Love and passion rule the day, with new interactions that are quite novel and remarkable. Frank Delaney is a gifted writer who has penned a beautiful, haunting tale that readers will relish and remember, for sure!
Ignore the fact that it is the first part of a trilogy and just enjoy. Some cannot disregard this and focus on the "unresolved" nature of the book but by definition the first in a trilogy is an introduction to character and conflict. Take it for what it is and I'm sure you'll be surprised. Oh and definitely buy from Central Valley Books, they have excellent prices and great service.