#243 ~ Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show

Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

Published by: Random House

Published on: February 2010

Page Count: 448

Genre: Literature / Historical Fiction

My Reading Format: Hardcover review copy provided for the tour by the author’s publicist

Available Formats: Hardcover, audio book, eBook

Giveaway: see the end of my review for more information

tlc-logo-resizedToday it is my great pleasure to be Frank Delaney’s host on his TLC Book Tour for his latest novel, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show.  I would like to thank his staff for sending me a review copy.  I would also like to thank Random House for a copy to giveaway on this blog!  Please see the end of my review for a list of the blogs who are on this tour with me.

I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours.  They always have great books and authors on tour.  Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.

My Review

Benedict MacCarthy is forced kicking and screaming into manhood when his father, a seemingly happy Irish farmer and family man, runs off with Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show. When he can no longer ignore or avoid what his mother needs him to do, he begins his reluctant quest to bring his father back home. Ben isn’t the only one coming of age in 1932.  Ireland is as  well.  She is a maturing democracy during an election year that proves to be pivotal. As Ireland is determining its political future, Ben must find the strength  to believe in himself and take on the responsibilities of adulthood.

It is very difficult to succinctly summarize Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show.  There is so much involved with covering the history of and the relationship between two families and the nuances of the political climate at that time.  Additionally, I don’t want to give away any part of the story unnecessarily.  It was such a joy to lean forward toward my book in anticipation of what would happen next.  One of the most beautiful things about this book as that it continued to reveal itself to me through the last paragraph. I finished the book with a satisfied pat on the cover.  I want anyone coming to this book to be able to experience the same thing.

Ben, as narrator, is self-aware and purposeful, the mirror opposite of his 18-year-old self. He is always conscious of what he is doing and how he is doing it, sharing his thought and writing processes along the way. Because he’s looking back at his life at a distance, he never assumes that his readers are overly familiar with the time or place in which he grew to be a man.  He continues to provide background information throughout the story.  I loved the way that Delaney uses Ben to blends traditional Irish storytelling into his novel.  These digressions and the flavor they add to the story are what make it unique and refreshing.

I remember my mother telling me about naptime at her house when she was a little girl.  My grandmother wore what Mom called nurse shoes, making it nearly impossible to hear where she was in the house.  One day, Mom and my Aunt Donna were not taking a nap.  Grandma, in her stealth nurse shoes, caught them before they were able to feign sleep and they were just as quickly punished for not doing as they were told.  Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show is like my Grandma and her nurse shoes.  It’s not a pushover.  It requires you to pay attention at all times.  Even still, I found that the story snuck up on me, catching me completely off guard.  Its references to Synge and Yeats reminded me of my own years as an undergraduate when I was in love with all things Irish.  Instead of being punished, however, I was rewarded with one of the richest reading experiences I’ve had in a very long time.  Thank goodness for Frank Delaney and his literary nurse shoes.


I am excited to let you know that Frank Delaney’s publicist is graciously providing one of my readers a copy of Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show in conjunction with my tour stop today.  I hope that whoever wins this book will love it even half as much as I did.  To be entered in this giveaway, leave a comment here by 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 23rd.  I will use Random.org to select the lucky reader.  May the luck of the Irish be with you. LOL!

Frank Delaney’s TLC Book Tour Stops

Please be sure to stop by Frank Delaney’s other tour stops:

Wednesday, March 17th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, March 18th: Tales of a Capricious Reader

Thursday, March 25th: Trish’s Reading Nook

Monday, April 5th: Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-a-holic

Wednesday, April 7th: My Two Blessings

Wednesday, April 14th: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Thursday, April 15th: Cheryl’s Book Nook

Monday, April 19th: Fizzy Thoughts

Tuesday, April 20th: Rundpinne

Wednesday, April 21st: Worducopia


  • At 2010.03.16 06:04, Ms Mazzola said:

    This book looks fantastic- I follow you on twitter and you peaked my interest with this one. I would love to win a copy.

    • At 2010.03.16 11:08, Shannon said:

      Hmm….looks like something different. =) Please enter me.

      • At 2010.03.16 11:11, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

        Wow, “literary nurse shoes” sounds like high praise to me. No need to enter me, I’ve won a copy of this already and you’ve made me really excited about it.

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        • At 2010.03.16 13:24, Lisa Munley said:

          Oh, I love your analogy of the grandma in nurse shoes!! I sneak up on my kids all the time! LOL

          Great review, Jennifer. I’m so happy you enjoyed the book. Thanks so much for your consistently excellent reviews and your continued support of TLC. We appreciate you so much and sincerely thank you for all the time you invest in reading and reviewing, not just books from us but books in general. You’re amazing!

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          • At 2010.03.16 15:09, Amy said:

            Oh what a fantastic review Jennifer! I love the bit about your grandma’s nurses shoes…too cute!

            I gotta tell ya, I’ve seen this book and wasnt’ too bowled over, until I read your review. Now, I must get it!!!!

            Please enter my name for the giveaway!

            Thanks to you and TLC Book Tours!

            • At 2010.03.16 17:45, A Bookshelf Monstrosity said:

              Oh, yeah, this one sounds excellent. Please include me in the giveaway.


              • At 2010.03.16 19:34, softdrink said:

                I still have to read my copy for next month, so I’m ignoring your review until I’ve read it. 😀

                • At 2010.03.16 20:12, Courtney Webb said:

                  Thanks for the review and giveaway! Would love to be entered…and get it to read it.


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                  • At 2010.03.17 11:34, Amy said:

                    This sounds like a wonderful book! I would love to read it.


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                    • At 2010.03.17 13:46, Chris said:

                      Thanks for your great review – my mom’s family comes from Ireland and I would love to read this book. Thanks!

                      • At 2010.03.18 01:48, Veens said:

                        I couldn’t help but smile at the reference to your grandmom. It would have been nice to hear stories like these! My mom tells my hubby my childhood stories too.. and I can very well see me doing the same for our kids 🙂

                        I love this review and I am sure I will totally buy this if I get it here. I have read just one book set in Ireland and nothing more. I wish to understand that place a little more.

                        Enter me and thank you for this giveaway too!
                        givingreadingachance AT gmail.com

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                        • At 2010.03.18 11:40, diane said:

                          Please enter me —looks so good. I am a google reader follower.

                          bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com


                          • At 2010.03.18 12:30, Anna said:

                            No need to enter me, as I’m reading the book right now. Just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your review. I’ve noticed this is the kind of book that requires you to just sit back and go with the flow. And the writing is beautiful.

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                            • At 2010.03.19 10:21, Nicole said:

                              I love books that tell you about a place where you have never went to before, and is not a non-fiction book.

                              Please enter me:)!


                              • At 2010.03.19 10:52, S. Krishna said:

                                No need to enter me, but this book sounds really interesting. Thanks for the review!

                                • At 2010.03.19 14:05, Colleen (Books in the City) said:

                                  Hi – I loved this book too. I haven’t read any other Delaney novels but I definitely will now. His writing is beautiful!

                                  No need to enter me, btw . . .

                                  • At 2010.03.22 15:48, karenk said:

                                    please count me in…thanks 🙂

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