BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Frank Delaney's The Matchmaker of Kenmare.
January 1932: Ben MacCarthy and his father watch a vagabond variety revue making a stop in the Irish countryside. After a two-hour kaleidoscope of low comedy, juggling, tumbling, and other entertainments, Ben’s father, mesmerized by Venetia Kelly, the troupe’s magnetic headliner, makes a fateful decision: to abandon his family and set off on the road with Miss Kelly and her caravan. Ben’s mother, shattered by the desertion, exhorts, “Find him and bring him back,” thereby sending the boy on a Homeric voyage into manhood.
Interweaving a host of unforgettable creations—“King” Kelly, Venetia’s violent, Mephistophelean grandfather; Sarah Kelly, Venetia’s mysterious, amoral mother; and even a truth-telling ventriloquist’s dummy named Blarney—Frank Delaney unfurls a splendid narrative that spans half the world and a tumultuous decade.
Add "compare Amazon rankings" to the things husband and wife Frank Delaney and Diane Meier will be doing this spring.Venetia Kelly's Traveling ShowFrank Delaney. Random, $26 (448p) A digressive story set in 1930s Ireland, Delaney's latest (after Shannon) chronicles the travels and travails of 18-year-old Ben as he is dispatched by his mother to track down his wayward father, who left the family to pursue a mysterious actress. Ben enters into the search with trepidation, but he perseveres, driven by his love for his father and his wish to restore his parents' heretofore loving marriage. Following Venetia's show from town to town, Ben gets an education about his father as a person in his own right, about Irish politics and society, about love and evil, and, inevitably, about himself. Threaded throughout are digressions into Irish history and politics as well as explorations of Irish folklore. This hybrid quest saga, bildungsroman, and grassroots view of Ireland in its post civil war era is immersive and enjoyable, and it showcases Delaney's talent for inventive metaphor, which he manipulates with an expert hand.