‘Venetia Kelly’ a colorful Irish tale

  I don’t know if Frank Delaney inherited any luck from his Irish roots, but he certainly was gifted with a penchant for storytelling.
  Delaney, author of novels such as “Ireland” and “Shannon,” infuses the pages of his fiction with colorful characters, rich descriptions and illuminating insights on his homeland’s history.
  “Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show” is no exception.
  In January 1932, Ben MacCarthy and his father watch a traveling vaudeville show centered around a charming young star named Venetia Kelly.
  Ben’s father becomes enamored with Venetia and begins following the show, abandoning his wife and child as well as the family farm.
  Ben’s mother, distraught by her husband’s flight, sends Ben after him.
  “Find him and bring him back.”
  Not knowing what else to do, Ben does as he’s told, soon becoming embroiled in Venetia’s tumultuous world, which is dictated by her violent, duplicitous grandfather King Kelly, a man who will let no one stand in the way of his political aspirations.
  “D’you know about the Golden Rule?” King at one point asks Ben.
  “Yes. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
  “What?” King Kelly looked at me as though I had just grown an additional head. “What the blazes are you talking about, boy?”
  “The Golden Rule. Moral reciprocity.”
  “No, boy. “The Golden Rule is — the man with the gold makes the rules.”

  As with Delaney’s other novels, his latest is one to be read slowly and savored as lovely metaphors color the pages.
  Ben’s coming-of-age journey leaves him feeling despicable and he’s hard on himself, though all who surround him are morally bankrupt.
  Naive yet thoughtful and contemplative, Ben learns of love, loyalty, honor and justice as would a hero on a quest, taking what knowledge he can from the legends of Ireland as he tries to restore his family and defeat the evil King.
  Delaney’s always a joy to read, and in Ben he has created a wonderful character, a boy who rises to the challenges of manhood, trying to do what is right despite the odds of success and the great losses suffered by failure.

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