Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney

Genre: Historical Fiction
Copyright: Feb 2011
Pages: 397
Book Source: ARC Courtesy of Leah @ Meier.

“And there’s a legend—she had only vague details—that all couples who are meant to marry are connected by an invisible silver cord which is wrapped around their ankles at birth, and in time the matchmaking gods pull those cords tighter and tighter and draw the couple slowly toward one another until they meet.” So says Miss Kate Begley, Matchmaker of Kenmare, the enigmatic woman Ben MacCarthy meets in the summer of 1943.

As World War II rages on, Ben remains haunted by the mysterious 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 aforementioned Matchmaker of Kenmare.

Ben is immediately captivated by the forthright Miss Begley, who is remarkably self-assured in her instincts but provincial in her experience. Miss Begley is determined to see that Ben moves through his grief—and a powerful friendship is forged along the way.

But when Charles Miller, a striking American military intelligence officer, arrives on the scene, Miss Begley develops an intense infatuation and 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 stirring story of friendship and sacrifice. New York Times bestselling author Frank Delaney has written a lush and surprising novel, rich as myth, tense as a thriller, and like all grand tales—harrowing, sometimes hilarious, and heartbreaking.

Beautiful reminiscents, lyrical prose, funny ramblings, languid pace and slightly ambiguous plot; quite an unusual combination.

Ben MacCarthy of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show fame returns to narrate The Matchmaker of Kenmare in the form of a memoir to his children. I don't think not having read Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show impeded my enjoyment of The Matchmaker of Kenmare but obviously if you've read the first book then many questions are answered in it's sequel.

Ben & Kate's paths cross as Ben travels Ireland gathering stories for the folklore commission; their burgeoning friendship changes Ben's life in profound ways. I adored the detail given to the matches Kate makes and Delaney's vivid descriptions of character and countryside convey an evocative sense of time and place.

"Most people's problems would never happen if they thought first and spoke later. Words aren't like chickens. You can't call them back once you've let them out."

"his face reminded me of brown wrapping paper that had been scrunched up into a ball and then smoothed out."

Kate is brave, instinctive, positive, stubborn, fey and I confess quite exasperating, a number of times I felt like slapping her for her irritating allusiveness and the constant play on Ben's generous nature to get what she wanted. Ben is caring and sweet with an inner core of strength; he's a true friend to Kate and while he may not follow Kate unquestioningly he does follow. After hastily marrying US Captain Charles Miller, Kate drags Ben on a search for her missing husband in war-torn Europe and unfortunately Ireland's neutrality does not always offer protection in the midst of WWII. 

The pace was a little leisurely for me but Delaney has certainly kissed the Blarney Stone, extra time would lend itself to really savouring this storyteller's writing.

Visit Frank Delaney's website to find out more about this author and his work.


  1. I really enjoyed this one, even though it was leisurely as you said. Glad you enjoyed it too, though I wish I had read the Venetia book beforehand, since the suspense of that one was kinda killed with this one. =)

  2. Never heard of the author but I thing it's kind of very historical.. =)

  3. The first sentence of your review is enough to sell anyone this book! thanks.

  4. Sounds good to me...I love slow moving stories at the right time. Your review was really great and descriptive!

  5. Sounds like a lovely read indeed. Didn't know this is a follow-up novel so I will be sure to check both of them out. Great review girlie :)

  6. I loved this book, but I agree that it takes awhile to get going. I just love Delaney's writing, so I was willing to go along for the ride. Glad you enjoyed it. I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations.


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