is a book of enduring beauty, suspense and heartbreak. I received an advance copy from the publisher and thought I would share my review with you. Written by Frank Delaney, it was released on February 7th, 2012.
Born and raised in County Tipperary, Delaney lived and worked in England for twenty-five years before moving to the United States in 2002. “Ireland”, his first book written after moving to America, became a New York Times Bestseller. Since 2006, he has published five ‘Novels of Ireland’, reflecting upon twentieth century Irish history.
Frank Delaney’s masterful storytelling skillfully interweaves myth, history and plot to breathe life into this tale of a man on a journey towards self-discovery. Ben MacCarthy is a flawed, but idealistic hero, searching for his purpose as a father, and learning to overcome cowardice to reconnect with his former wife. This is a book of love, lost and found.
The final installment in the Ben MacCarthy trilogy of Irish historical fiction, “The Last Storyteller” is a complex novel, linking two previous novels into one epic saga. The love story of Venetia and Ben began with “Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show: A Novel of Ireland” and continued with “The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland”. Even if this final book is your first introduction to Delaney’s writings, his skillful plot development helps this story work as a stand-alone novel, despite being part of a continuing series.
The story is set in the mid-1950’s, a time when Ireland was a new nation struggling to find its course. Rural Irish people lived hard lives, and this book provides an uncompromising view of IRA violence and subterfuge during these difficult years in Ireland’s history. Ben MacCarthy struggles with his ideals of national loyalty, while learning how violence can tatter the fabric of society.
The complex characters of this book, endure emotional and often brutal realities, which Delaney concisely depicts with carefully chosen words and phrases. He is a true word master, whose narrative skills create memorable and compelling scenes.
MacCarthy’s imperfections are mirrored in the flaws of a fledgling nation and her people, struggling to find their own identity. This book lyrically recounts MacCarthy’s journey of self-discovery as he evolves into the next great storyteller or seanachie. Ben MacCarthy’s saga elegantly honors the eternal craft of storytelling.
“Every legend and all mythologies exist
to teach us how to run our days.”
“Mythology is the emotional history of a society,
the historical record.”
As this plot develops, Delaney’s strong belief in the power of legends to impact life is clearly evident. Stories both old and new, guide Ben MacCarthy on his quest. “The Last Storyteller” is a lyrical tribute to Ireland and her ancient stories.
The book begins slowly. The mystical, mythical quality of stories within stories creates a meandering plot, which at times grows tiring for a reader like me, who enjoys an intricate plot, compelling me to turn the next page.
My love of Ireland and her ancient tales, and especially Delaney’s masterful story telling, helped me to overcome my usual desire for uninterrupted, plot-driven fiction, to truly enjoy this rambling, yet compelling tale.
Slan agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a free advanced copy of this book for review purposes. I do not receive payment for my book reviews. My first responsibility is to my readers and I am committed to honest reviews. All opinions given are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Links to Amazon.com pages for Frank Delaney’s books are provided to assist blog readers only. I do not participate in an affiliate sales program with Amazon at the time of writing this post.