Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review:The Matchmaker of Kenmare

The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland by Frank Delaney

Sequel to Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show

Publication Date: February 2011
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN-13: 9781400067848

(Received for review from Leah Paulos/Random House)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Books-A-Million, IndieBound

If you live in Morehead, KY or the surrounding area:
Purchase from our local independent bookseller: CoffeeTree Books
Borrow from our local library: The Rowan County Public Library

Frank Delaney on the WEB: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Excerpt from The Matchmaker of Kenmare

Synopsis (Barnes & Noble):

"And there's a legend - she had only vague details - that all couples who are meant to marry are connected by an invisible silver cord which is wrapped around their ankles at birth, and in time the matchmaking gods pull those cords tighter and tighter and draw the couple slowly toward one another until they meet." So says Miss Kate Begley, Matchmaker of Kenmare, the enigmatic woman Ben MacCarthy meets in the summer of 1943.

As World War II rages on, Ben remains haunted by the mysterious disappearance of his wife, the actress Venetia Kelly. Searching for purpose by collecting stories for the Irish Folklore Commission, he travels to a remote seaside cottage to profile the aforementioned Matchmaker of Kenmare.

Ben is immediately captivated by the forthright Miss Begley, who is remarkably self-assured in her instincts but provincial in her experience. Miss Begley is determined to see that Ben moves through his grief - and a powerful friendship is forged along the way.

But when Charles Miller, a striking American military intelligence officer, arrives on the scene, Miss Begley develops and intense infatuation and looks to make a match for herself. Miller needs a favor, but it will be dangerous. Under the cover of their neutrality as Irish citizens, Miss Begley and Ben travel to London and effectively operate as spies. As they are drawn more deeply and painfully into the conflict, both discover the perils of neutrality - in both love and war.

Steeped in colorful history, The Matchmaker of Kenmare is a stirring story of friendship and sacrifice. New York Times bestselling author Frank Delaney has written a lush and surprising novel, rich as myth, tense as a thriller, and like all grand tales - harrowing, sometimes hilarious, and heartbreaking.


Irish novelist and radio personality, Frank Delaney brings readers the sequel to his bestselling novel, Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show. The Matchmaker of Kenmare picks up the story of Ben MacCarthy and introduces readers to the wonderful character, Miss Kate Begley. Delaney uses Irish folklore to create a story that will captivate readers and draw them into a plot that spans Europe during World War II.

Ben MacCarthy is a troubled man. The disappearance of his wife, Venetia has left him grieving and unable to move forward. Many believe Venetia is dead, but Ben uses his time as a collector for the Irish Folklore Commission to try to find leads as to her whereabouts. When Ben travels to the town of Kenmare to meet the famous matchmaker he is astounded by Miss Kate Begley, a woman who uses her experience and sense of character to help people find love. An unexpected friendship develops between the two and when Kate marries an American intelligence officer, that friendship is put to the test. When Charles disappears it's up to Kate and Ben to find him behind enemy lines. As they both search for the those closest to them they begin to realize that being neutral in a time a war is fraught with unexpected problems.

I have always been interested in Scottish and Irish folklore and Delaney is known for using Irish folklore in his work. This time he tells the old story about a sliver thread being tied to the ankles of people who are meant to be together, and the thread is slowly pulled together until they meet. I thought this was a wonderful start to the novel, though I had expected it to be a more important part of the story.

Delaney reminds readers of the history of Ben MacCarthy and his wife, the actress Venetia Kelly. It is not necessary to read Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show before The Matchmaker of Kenmare as this book can stand on it's own. But readers will find it enjoyable to read the novels in order. Ben is great character and this book is told in first person through his voice as he tells his daughters about his experiences. I found his voice very enjoyable and I thought he made things very clear and easy to understand.

Kate Begley's character is new to this novel. As the matchmaker for the town of Kenmare, she has an indomitable spirit and a heart for helping others find happiness. When she falls in love with an American intelligence officer she makes a match for herself, but it is not without challenges. Charles is known as Killer Miller and he is deep into the War. Irish citizens being neutral he enlists Kate to make sure that if he is ever lost or presumed dead she will look for him behind enemy lines. Kate's character is faced with lots of challenges in this book and she meets them head on. She is strong and tenacious, but her vulnerability starts to show as she looks for her husband.

I thought the parallels between Ben and Kate's stories were very compelling. Ben is still searching for Venetia and Kate is searching for Charles. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the book, but one of the most interesting parts of the book in my opinion is the deep and enduring friendship that occurs between Ben and Kate. As they begin to realize in their hearts that they cannot remain neutral in the face of evil, their bond with each other strengths even more. The German machine is moving across Europe and they are helpless to stop it. Conflict tends to bring out our deepest fears and our survival instincts. I thought the author did a wonderful job of showing this in this novel.

The Matchmaker of Kenmare is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Though Ireland is his first novel published in the United States, Frank Delaney's brilliant career in broadcasting has earned him fame across the United Kingdom, and several of his nonfiction books have been U.K. bestsellers.

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