The Last Storyteller

Frank Delaney. Random House, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6785-5
The riveting final installment of Delaney's Ben McCarthy trilogy (after The Matchmaker of Kenmare) explores the protagonist's relationship with lost love Venetia and his folklore studies with legendary storyteller John Jacob Farrell O'Neill. O'Neill's gift for spinning a yarn is a powerful one, and McCarthy discovers that O'Neill's stories verge on the prophetic, lending this engaging historical a shade of magical realism. McCarthy opens up to O'Neill about Venetia (whom he impregnated when he was much younger), but who is now married to an abusive, deceitful performer—Gentleman Jack. McCarthy also finds himself unwittingly involved with IRA revolutionaries determined to reunite north and south Ireland, even if it means disturbing the countries' young peace. McCarthy finally resolves to liberate Venetia from her cruel husband during one of his hypnotic performances, but the troubled Venetia soon flees her rescuer. Both men—desperate to right the wrongs for which they hold one another responsible—escalate tensions to dangerous levels, while McCarthy struggles to assume O'Neill's mantle as preeminent storyteller and locate his beloved Venetia. Long-time fans of the trilogy will relish its conclusion, while new readers—though likely to feel lost at the outset—will quickly warm to Delaney's vividly described Ireland of the 1950s, its fully-realized inhabitants, and the dynamic political and personal relationships that make for a remarkable story. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/12/2012
Release date: 02/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 341 pages - 978-0-679-64422-4
Paperback - 385 pages - 978-0-8129-7975-6
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