""History, legend, memory and myth come seamlessly together in Frank Delaney's wonderfully engaging new novel, "Ireland," an intimate epic that is at once a sprawling account of 2,000 years of tumultuous Irish history and a meditation on the enduring importance of stories." - The Washington Post March 16, 2005
"Warm, intelligent, and unapologetically nostalgic... Delaney is as much in love with the art of storytelling as he is the story's subject." - Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA) March 15, 2005
"As befits its title, Ireland touches the heart and moves the soul. We are 500 tantalizing pages into this miraculous book before we officially learn the Storyteller's name. But within the first dozen or two we discern that name instinctively: Frank Delaney. - Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia) March 20, 2005
"...a folk history masquerading as a novel. But it succeeds on both levels, and in exalting the art of storytelling as well as demonstrating the author's love of all things Irish - people, place and language... His characters are very vivid, and their speech is so accurate, you almost hear their brogue as you read... - The Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) February 27, 2005
"At first glance, the book is in the tradition of such James Michener blockbusters as "Hawaii" and "Chesapeake," but Delaney wraps the history and geology and politics in a much warmer and more character-driven narrative than the Michener books." - Connecticut Post February 27, 2005
"These lively tales, narrated by the storyteller in colorful, idiomatic prose, have a vivid, dramatic immediacy. The storyteller, a figure both archetypal and touchingly human in his passions and frailties, is in his own way a preserver and protector of Ireland, just like the heroes whose stories he relates. Collectively, the tales form a kind of Irish book of Genesis, a creation mythology of Ireland - Philadelphia Inquirer March 13, 2005
"This ambitious novel takes readers all over the Emerald Isle. Delaney, a longtime commentator for the BBC, has penned a fond tribute to his native land. Stories about Strongbow, Brian Boru and the Book of Kells are some of the legends that come to life in the hands of Delaney, a master storyteller." - Dayton Daily News March 16, 2005
Beneath all the histories of Ireland, from the present day, through her long troubled relationship with England and back to the earliest times, there has always been another, less obvious reporter speaking - the oral tradition, Ireland's vernacular narrative, telling the country's tale to her people in stories handed down since God was a boy.
This fireside voice took great care to say that imagination and emotion play their parts in every history and therefore, to understand the Irish, mere facts can never be enough; this is a country that reprocesses itself through the mills of its imagination.
But we all do that, we merge our myths with our facts according to our feelings, we tell ourselves our own story. And no matter what we are told, we choose what we believe. All 'truths' are only 'our' truths, because we too bring to the 'facts' our feelings, our experiences, our wishes. Thus, storytelling - from wherever it comes - forms a layer in the foundation of the world; and glinting in it we see the trace elements of every tribe on earth.
A novel of huge ambition, beautifully told, Ireland is the unstoppably readable story of a remarkable nation. On a November evening in 1951, an itinerant storyteller, the last of a fabled breed, arrives unannounced and mysterious at a house in the Irish countryside. By the fire, he begins to tell the story of this extraordinary island. One of his listeners, a nine-year-old boy, grows so entranced by the storytelling that, when the old man leaves, he devotes his life to finding him again.
It is a search that uncovers both passions and mysteries, in the boy's life as well as the old man's. In addition, a remarkable document is quoted from throughout the book - the Storyteller's own chronicle, poignant, sharp and frequently amusing. Together they comprise the narrative of a people, the history of a nation, the telling of Ireland in all its drama, intrigue and heroism, its philosophy, its spirit, its national ego.
Ireland travels through the centuries by way of story after story, from the savage grip of the Ice Age to the green and troubled land of brochures and headlines. Along the way, we meet foolish kings and innocent monks, god-heroes and great works of art, shrewd Norman raiders and envoys from Rome, leaders, lovers and poets. Each illuminates the magic of Ireland, the troubling power of England and the eternal connection to the raw earth.
From the epic sweep of its telling to the 'insider' precision of its characters - great and small, tragic and comic - 'Ireland - a novel' rings with the truth of a writer passionate about his own country.
Ireland, A Novel is being published by Time Warner Books UK in August of 2004 and by Harper Collins USA in January of 2005.
At the North American launch of Dylan Thomas' Selected Poems, beautifully bound and published by The Folio Society to mark the centenary of Thomas' birth, Frank read Fern Hill and talked about his own history with Thomas's family and work. Frank, who had written a presented a BBC documentary on Dylan Thomas some years ago, also shared a personal memory of the actor, Richard Burton, reciting the poem at a table in a Dublin restaurant.
To secure your own copy of this marvelous book, go to The Folio Society.
Another issue of the wonderful "Public Domain Review". In this edition Frank has contributed a marvelous piece on Beatrix Potter, and PD has enhanced it with the most charming photographs and illustrations.
One of Frank Delaney's most endearing new projects, a series of short stories produced as e-books called, "Storytellers," began as a means of introducing his novel "The Last Storyteller," in which the character of an itinerant Irish Seanchai is central to the plot.