Friday, May 28, 2010

Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney and Giveaway

Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney (Rated: C)
Random House
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6783-1
Published Feb 23, 2010
Hardcover, 448 pages

Reviewed by Sandra

The opening words of this novel captured my attention.  As the novel progressed, however, I was disappointed because I expected a serious novel but seemed to be confronted with a comedy, for example:  the writer’s references to “Tiny Digressions, Important Digressions, Relatively Important Digressions, and Unimportant Digressions”. Initially, I was put off, but I was determined to continue reading to see what the novelist had to say.  Happily, the reward was a tale well told.

The writer describes Venetia so well that she comes alive in our mind’s eye.  It is easy for the reader to see how she captivated both a man of mature years and a boy of 18.  Venetia was 32 and Ben 18, yet they seemed to fit together.  We understand that Venetia is vulnerable and we wonder why, when she seems to have “everything” going for her - beauty, allure, talent, money. Venetia’s use of a ventriloquist’s dummy named Blarney was intriguing and revealed her inability to speak her thoughts directly to Ben.  Early on in the narrative, through Blarney, we hear Venetia’s true feelings about her grandfather, Thomas Aquinas Kelly (often referred to as “King” Kelly) and later on about her love for Ben.  Blarney helps the reader to “know” that “King” Kelly is not a good man and we feel the novel building to reveal his sins.

The novel came to life for me in chapter 65 and continued to the end at a relentless pace. The reader understands that the novel may not end on a happy note. There is a hint of incest when Kelly learns of the marriage of Ben and Venetia.  We wonder if “King” Kelly is Venetia’s father but nothing more is said on the subject so the reader may conclude that she is his granddaughter, but who is her father? And why does “King” Kelly have such a hold on his daughter, Sarah, and his granddaughter, Venetia?

I was completely surprised with the ending – a true bitter/sweet ending because we realize, as events unfold, that Ben and Venetia had a special, loving relationship that will affect both of them throughout their lives.

From a historical viewpoint much can be learned about the Irish political situation in the 30’s in this book.  The last few pages of the novel reveal the reason why many of the Irish writers frame their stories within the typical bitter/sweet Irish story - never wholly joyful nor wholly sad but always a combination of the two in various degrees.

Frank Delaney has won me over.  I now want to read his other books.

Would you like a chance to win this book? Thanks to Evelyn, I have one copy of this book to give away! Here are the rules: GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED

1. Open to US and Canadian residents only.
2. No P.O. box addresses.
3. Must be a follower of this blog, new or current.
4. Leave a comment with your email address. For example: laura (at) aol (dot) com
5. For an extra entry post this giveaway on your blog (on the sidebar) and leave me the link.
6. Giveaway ends June 18, 2010.

Disclosure: Thank you to Evelyn for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. Please enter me in!

    stephaniet117 at yahoo dot com

  2. I'm trying not to enter any more contests but I would LOVE to win this book. I'm a follower. nicola at cogeco dot ca


  3. Please enter me in this giveaway!

    I follow.

    saemmerson at yahoo dot com

    Sarah E

  4. Much effort went into developing the complex character of Venetia and the mystery surrounding "King" Kelly builds suspense and melodrama in the relationship with his granddaughter, Venetia. The essential ingredients for a great novel are there. The bittersweet ending, symbolized in the Ben - Venetia relationship, is a 'signature' amongst many Irish writers whose stories serve as microcosms of a greater tragedy that is their homeland. Ireland has been historically torn by civil and secular war, struggles for independance from England and famine. The movie "Michael Collins (1996)" typifies this. An excellent review and welcome to Library of Clean Reads, Sandra.

  5. I loved the opening line of this book! One of the best I've read lately. Sorry the rest of the book didn't match the opening.

    I think I'm a follower? I need to check. Would love to enter.

  6. Count me in!! I am a follower!!

  7. Oh I would love to win this. Please enter me. I am a current follower. Thank you for this giveaway!

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  8. I'm a follower.Please count me in!!

  9. I have had this on my radar since I first read about it. I would LOVE a chance.

    I am a follower via GFC.

    Thanks for the chance.


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