Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show by Frank Delaney is a coming of age novel set during a tumultuous time in Ireland’s history.  Set in the early 1930s, Ireland and Britain were in the midst of an economic battle in which farmers refused to keep paying back the loans that enabled them to buy farmland.  And Britain consequently began placing tariffs on all Irish goods — all the while the political system in Ireland was tenuous.

“Of course it was all still being run by politicians.  We have an old saying here:  ‘No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.'”  (Page 15)

The narration is conversational in tone as Ben MacCarthy tells his family history, with tales on the side about the political climate of the time.  Although he digresses from the main story of his father’s disappearance and reappearance with the Venetia Kelly Traveling Show, MacCarthy warns you ahead of time that he often falls off topic, but that most of his stories have some relevance to the main narration.  A quirky technique, but enjoyable given that the digressions are entertaining.

“So, throughout this story you can expect three kinds of sidesteps:  Important Digression, which will usually be something to do with factual history; Important Digression, where a clarification needs facts and I will ferry them in from a side road; and — my favorite — Unimportant Digression, which can be about anything.”  (Page 10)

Delaney has created a multitude of characters with their own depth and meaning in the story, and there are references throughout to other classic works.  He has created an energized menagerie through which readers will see and experience through Ben’s eyes as a young man in search of his father and himself.  In many ways Ben is like his father, especially as the narration progresses.  Readers will find that he is unwinding his story slowly and deliberately, mirroring how his father contains his emotions and his true passions from his family.

“Beside me, my father reacted so hard that he made the bones of his chair creak.  He pulled back his hands, tightened them into fists, and held them in front of him like a man containing himself.”  (Page 79)

The deliberate way in which the story unfolds enables readers to learn more about the MacCarthy family, the Kelly’s, and the climate of Ireland at the time.  A nation and families stuck between the old traditions and the modern ways of the world, seeking the best path through to the other side.  What propels Ben on this journey and what does he learn?  Readers will want to pick up a copy of Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show to find out.

To enter for 1 signed copy of Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show or 1 audiobook narrated by Frank Delaney (US/Canada only):

1.  Leave a comment on this post of what you would like to see in Ireland.
2.  Leave a comment on my interview with Frank Delaney.
3.  Blog, Facebook, Tweet, or spread the word about the giveaway.

Deadline March 1, 2010, at 11:59PM EST.

About the Author: (Photo Credit: Jerry Bauer)

Frank Delaney was born in Tipperary, Ireland. A career in broadcasting earned him fame across the United Kingdom. A judge for the Booker Prize, several of his nonfiction books were bestsellers in the UK, and he writes frequently for American and British publications. He now lives with his wife, Diane Meier, in New York and Connecticut. Ireland is his first novel to be published in the United States.

 This is my 11th book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.

My 1st book for the 2010 Ireland Reading Challenge.

FTC Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show by Frank Delaney from publicist Leah Paulos and Random House.  Clicking on title links or images will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary.


  1. I've only ever been to an airport there on my way to Iraq and that was it. I would love to tour Ireland and see all the castles. I read Ireland by Frank Delaney and loved it.

    [email protected]

  2. I tweeted:


    saemmerson at yahoo dot com

    Sarah E

  3. I would love to visit Irish castles.

    Please enter me in this giveaway!

    saemmerson at yahoo dot com

    Sarah E

  4. I would love to visit some old castles….I will definitely go there one day!

    ykatrina at hotmail dot com

  5. Please count me in. I would love to see the green countryside and the castles.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  6. Anne-Marie T says

    Tweeted. http://twitter.com/amt946/status/9717225665

    Email: amt(at)telus(dot)net

  7. Anne-Marie T says

    I would love to see the old castles and churches.

    email (amt at telus dot net)

  8. I can’t say that there is something in particular that I would like to see but I have always thought it looked like a beautiful place to visit and I would love to see the countryside in person. I would probably fit a few pubs in too!

    I commented on the interview.

    I blogged about it here:


  9. wheresmyrain says

    i would like to find where my family in Ireland came from and go there

    wheresmyrain at yahoo dot com

  10. Thanks for the review and the interview.


  11. I would love to see castles and other places of historical interest.

    [email protected]

  12. I'd just love to see the green rolling hills.

    [email protected]

  13. Serena,I would so LOVE to win this book. If I was to visit Ireland I'd love to visit Galway-lots of great castles I've been told.

    bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com


  14. Susan Helene Gottfried says

    No need to enter me, darling. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

  15. No need to enter me, but great review! I LOVE the vintage cover design on this one.

  16. Nicole (Linus's Blanket) says

    I'm not entering. Just stopping by to say great review and you have my interest piqued.

  17. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway. This book looks fascinating. Visiting The quaint villages would interest me greatly. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  18. would love to see the lush green Ireland countryside.


  19. No need to enter me. Glad my copy just came in the mail. Can't wait to read this one!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  20. bermudaonion says

    There are lots of things I would love to do in Ireland, including visiting an Irish pub. Thanks for the giveaway. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

  21. Your review was really enjoyable. Not sure if this is the book for me or not but I do love that cover!!

  22. I would love to go to Ireland, to drink the whisky and eat the food. And to just walk trhough the countryside.

  23. Great review and interview!

    My mom is from Ireland and was fortunate to go back most summers as a child and a number of times as an adult – but there is still so much to see!

    I would love to cycle through the West – Galway and Mayo!

    Thanks for the giveaway – leenbeen2001 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  24. ANovelMenagerie says

    Charlee is in a tie breaker

  25. Thanks for the review. Looking forward to reading the book. What a great interview you did with him.

  26. OnlinePublicist says

    I just love the cover of this book! Great review, too. πŸ™‚

  27. vslavetopassionv says

    You had me at Irish History! πŸ™‚ This book looks awesome!


  28. Oh I'd love to go to County Armagh – that's where my familiy emigrated from.

  29. I am really looking forward to reading this one – no need to enter me in the giveaway, it's already sitting on my shelf. πŸ™‚

  30. Enjoyed this review, esp. liked the quote about government always gets in regardless of who you vote for. I would love to see expanses of rural Ireland as it must have looked in the early part of the 20th century. Thanks for the giveaway.