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The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland

The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland [Kindle Edition]

Frank Delaney
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Frank Delaney's The Last Storyteller.

In the summer of 1943, as World War II rages on, Ben MacCarthy is haunted by the 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 enigmatic Miss Kate Begley, the Matchmaker of Kenmare. Ben is immediately captivated by her, and a powerful friendship is forged. But when Charles Miller, a handsome American military intelligence officer, arrives on the scene, Miss Begley 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 lush and surprising novel, rich as myth, tense as a thriller, and, like all grand tales, harrowing, sometimes hilarious, and heartbreaking.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2641 KB
  • Print Length: 417 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400067847
  • Publisher: Random House (8 Feb. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43GM4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #569,701 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Haunting Tale 4 July 2012
Set during World War 11 "The Matchmaker of Kenmare" is a lush novel rich in myth, sometime hilarious and at times heartbreaking, a stirring story of loss, friendship, romance and sacrifice. The protagonist Ben MacCarthy, an Irish folklore aficionado, narrates a very touching segment in his life as he wanders the country in search of his missing wife Venetia Kelly (we first met her in "Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show").

The story has a very slow start and opens with Ben meeting Kate Begley, known as the matchmaker of Kenmare. The two naively pride themselves of being neural during the start of the devastating war but as their relationship developed and the war dragged on they become more and more involved in aiding the Americans on the European front. Both Kate and Ben had an agenda: Kate was looking for her husband who went missing in action and Ben his wife who mysteriously disappeared. The story picks up and becomes far more interesting and evolves into a memorable war story as Kate and Ben are pinned down in Europe's battlefields.....they find themselves way over their heads and must survive at all cost...

The story is narrated in the first person by a senior Ben to his children in a rambling style that is quite entertaining at times. He relives and shares with them the many tales he collected in his travels during his younger and more challenging years. The prose successfully creates a vivid image of the time and especially the complexities of the Irish culture with great depth and skill. The novel started off in a tedious manner but I persisted and I am glad I did. The strong writing, the warm characters and the unexpected turn of events gradually hyped my interest to the end.

Looking back, I can honestly say I enjoyed this haunting tale.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  69 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meandering, but poignant ending will touch many hearts 27 Dec. 2010
By I Wanna Be A Pepper Too - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This 400 page novel opens with our narrator, Ben McCarthy, an Irish folklore collector, reminiscing about events that occurred in his life, decades ago when he was in his 20's and 30's. It was 1943 when he first met Kate Begley, the Matchmaker of Kenmare. He was 29, she 25. World War II was raging, and tiny Ireland was trying to stay out of it by declaring itself a neutral party to the war.

Although opposites in many ways, Ben and Kate were nevertheless drawn toward each other from the very beginning. As their lives became intertwined through shared adventures and misadventures that included risking their lives helping the American war efforts in Europe, they came to know each other in ways that not even their respective spouses were privileged to.

Throughout the novel, readers would be kept wondering if Ben and Kate's ever deepening friendship would blossom into mutual love. For Ben, there was the question of his holding on to memories of his actress wife, Venetia Kelly, who had been missing for years. Where could she be? Was she still alive? For Kate, the question would revolve around her loyalty to her "soulmate" Charles Miller, an American Intelligence Officer whose dangerous duties would bring tragic changes to his, Kate's, and Ben's lives.

This epic story of faith and sacrifice tended to plod along and meander with digressions into folklores, legends, and factual historical tidbits that I did not always care for (the folklores and legends more so than the historical tidbits). The frequent telegraphing of ominous things to come sometimes proved tedious to me, especially in the less interesting first half of the novel.

Fortunately, the strong writing and introduction of unexpected characters in the second half of the novel turned things around for me. The author's account of Ben and Kate's harrowing experiences through the woods in Germany was gripping, and his account of the lovely gestures shown to Kate by her new neighbors in America had a stroke of inventiveness in it. Finally, the account of Ben's ultimate classy act of grace brings the novel to a poignant ending that I think will touch many hearts.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dragged on for me 7 Jan. 2011
By amazonbuyer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I took a risk and thought I'd venture out of the autobiography/biography binge and into something a little lighter. This book seemed to be a perfect change.

At first "The Matchmaker of Kenmare" drew me right in. Characters were being formed and I liked them (Ben MacCarthey, Kate Begly). There was a little mystery to the plot and it intrigued me. But, before long, the plot seemed to slow down and go in dreadful circles while the characters that had been formed seemed to vector off in ways that didn't seem in line with their foundations, especially that of Kate Begley. I also felt like the prose needed some paring down in many spots in order to move the plot forward.

As Ben and Kate slogged through Europe looking for Charles Miller, I wearied of their hunt. The whole search for Charles seemed contrived and became annoying. The plot and characters had lost their spark and their bearings and so did I as the reader.

I finished the book but felt quite numb by the end. That said, I did come away with two favorite quotes, but they were in the first quarter of the work, before the book and I both lost heart:

1. "To state the painfully obvious is a sign of low intelligence." Yes, I know it's been said before but I love this iteration.

2. "...he had one of Life's greater gifts--the gift of being believed." This is my favorite quote because it made me laugh out loud. I know people like this, but had never been able to verbalize my thoughts about them.

Even though I didn't care for this novel, it is clear that Delaney is an adept writer, has a healthy wit, and a wonderful ability to make nebulous thoughts about people take a clear form. I like that, I just wasn't crazy about this particular story for reasons listed above. I am sure others will fall in love with it.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Matchmaker of Kenmare 9 Feb. 2011
By Lydia - Published on
I wasn't introduced to Frank Delaney until fairly recently, when I stumbled across the gorgeous cover of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show sitting on the table at my local Barnes and Noble. I was fascinated by the old-style of the art-work, the catchy title and the promise of a story that was new and different to me. I wasn't disappointed by it.

I was thrilled to learn that there was a sequel in the works and even more thrilled to be contacted with an offer of an advanced copy. It was with great anticipation I made time in my reading schedule for The Matchmaker of Kenmare, and I was well-rewarded for doing so.

The first few pages in this book are so lyrical and moving that I savored each and every word like it was the last bite of my mom's chocolate pie. Delaney's method of describing people is superb - I called my dad more than once just to read to him the beauty of what I was seeing on the page. I found myself crying more than once as well, because it was that perfect.

I'm not one of those people to write a bunch of stuff about the story that will spoil it for others before the book even is released - so I'll say this in summary. The Matchmaker of Kenmare enchanted me and has firmly solidified my "fan-girlishness" when it comes to Frank Delaney. I have a love for (and desire to see) Ireland, I get giddy when confronted with anything Irish and The Matchmaker of Kenmare filled my imagination with sights, sounds and so much more - not just of pleasant, pretty Ireland, but gritty war-time Ireland. Each side was perfect in its own way and I cannot wait to see what Delaney will do next.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maeve Binchy, move over 19 Mar. 2011
By Linda Pagliuco - Published on
Kate Begley is heir to her grandmother's title of matchmaker of Kenmare, with all the common sense and folk magic encompassed by that position. Kate's parents died when she was a small child, drowned in an accident in the ocean that she can see from the window of her cottage.

Ben McCarthy has suffered losses of his own, his beloved young wife having been stolen from him 10 years ago. He took a position as a gatherer of folklore for the national commission, and spends his days meeting people and recording their tales, while never forgetting to make inquiries about Venetia. I suppose it was only fate that brought him to the matchmaker's door.

Author Delaney ensnares readers from page 1, with his lyrical prose, evocative time period (WWII), and irresistible settings. The first quarter of the novel is comprised of vignettes, journal entries, and teasers, luring the reader on to discover what actually happened. Eventually, Kate encounters an American officer, and makes her own match, but there's a price she must pay. By now, Kate and Ben are fast friends, and she finagles him in the best Irish way to accompany her to war torn France. The war scenes in this book are incredible. Delaney can write in such a way that you're there as Ben's shadow. When Kate's new husband disappears, who else but Ben is better suited to understand Kate's need to find out what happened to him?

The Matchmaker of Kenmare starts out small and ends up universal. Love, loss, faith, magic, violence, courage, and hope: it's all there, between two covers. Don't miss this one.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Meandering For Me 11 Mar. 2011
By Mary Lins - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"The Matchmaker of Kenmare" by Frank Delaney, starts with a laboriously slow build-up with lots of foreshadowing that is simultaneously frustrating and suspenseful. Our narrator, Ben McCarthy, like many an Irish storyteller, finds many (many) digressions and thus the story snails along.

As a personal rule (the result of being accidentally exposed to too many spoilers) I don't read reviews of books until after I've read the book. Sometimes I look to see how many stars a book is averaging and scan the titles of the reviews. But in the case of "The Matchmaker of Kenmare", I skimmed a few reviews to see if it was going to get better...less meandering and less plodding. One review said that it got better in the second half (I gave that reviewer a "YES" vote on helpfulness!) and so I stuck with it to see what would finally happen, but ultimately it wasn't worth all the plodding to get to a too quick (and unrealistic) ending.

I won't recount the plot other than to say it's about one damaged guy (Ben) following a willful woman (the eponymous Matchmaker) around like a puppy-dog through Europe during WWII. They get into scrapes and "adventures" that are all highly unlikely.

Not strictly being a sequel, I think readers should also know that while it isn't essential to have read "Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show" before reading this novel, it would have been helpful and possibly made more sense of Ben McCarthy's character. For much of the story his motivations (or lack thereof) just mystified me.

And one more clue for readers who hear "Irish Novelist" and think Maeve Binchy or Patrick Taylor...think again; Delaney is NOT like those.

"The Matchmaker of Kenmare" wasn't my cup of tea, but fans of Delaney (who know what they are in for) will probably enjoy it...and the foreshadowed sequel.
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