I loved the way Delaney wove the O'Meara family's story in and around the legends and history of Ireland. I felt I was walking the same country paths and sitting in the story rooms. Further, Delaney's narration was as professional and engaging as any I have heard. If you're Irish, or just wish you were, I heartily recommend "Ireland" by Frank Delaney.
My wife and I have been to Ireland twice. I loved this book because the writer narrated his own stories. I found Frank Delaney really captured the many places I'd seen in Ireland. Listening to these stories was just like being there. I look forward to listening to another one of Frank Delaney's books.
I started listening to this book (I'm reviewing all three parts here) as preparation for a trip to Ireland this summer. I love antiquity and history, so I thought this would set the mood for my trip. In fact, it was indispensable. Many of the places described in the stories told here were already on my itinerary, and the Irishness of the text as well as of the audio couldn't have complemented my travels better. I plan to listen to the whole book again, soon.
The author uses the device of a frame story to give us a wide range of tales in varying styles covering centuries of Irish history and legend. The frame story is absorbing. if not quite believable. I can chalk up some of the anachronisms - potatoes in the Bronze Age, Mexican pigments in the Book of Kells - to the fanciful nature of the storyteller figure. My only serious reservation about the book is that the boy whose actions dominate the narrative is not a very likable character.
Frank Delaney weaves an enchanting rendition of Irish history that is part fact, part fiction, part legend. Not for the historical purist or pedantic scholar, but as the Storyteller in the novel tells his captive audience: you can't tell Irish history without entering the mythical realm. If Delaney's main goal is to give the reader a sense of the forces that shaped Irish history and the Irish character, he succeeds brilliantly. I love how the novel flip-flops from past to present, and the variety of devices and plot twists the author uses to get us from one time period to another. Best of all, Delaney does his own--and absolutely superb--narration. Hands down the most enjoyful audiobook I've listened to in a long while.
I greatly enjoyed the interweaving of historical tales of Ireland with a young boy's pursuit of his passion. Some other reviews speak of this book as being slow, and I suppose it is to a degree. It wasn't meant to be an adrenaline rush from cover to cover. I would, however, highly recommend this to anyone who likes to feel the magic of a master storyteller fill your mind and soul.
This was a great read - although it probably helps to have interest in Irish culture and heritage. The stories interwoven with the main story are fascinating, colorful, and exemplify a true lost art of the past, that of the oral telling of history. The main story line of the fascinated boy, and on what becomes his life-long quest to find the mysterious story-teller, integrate all the other stories seamlessly and make you appreciated this book as a book of short stories within a long story.
This is a delightful book that works far better in audio than it could ever work by reading a hard copy. After all, it is about story-telling, and the story-telling in the audio version is fabulous! The reader, with his authentic Irish accent, casts a magical spell through his intriguing tales that enliven the history, myths and national character of Ireland.
The book, however, is over-long. It could be 15% to 20% shorter with no adverse impact. A tour-de-force that is a bit tedious, but still worth the effort.
There are essentially 2 stories happening at once. #1, the encounter with and the search for the "story teller" and #2, the collection of short stories told along the way. It's NOT difficult to follow, if you're worried about that.
The writer/narrator (to distinguish him from the "story teller") made me an insider and taught history that will stick to me. He opened the heart and soul of the people. He did this in little digestible chunks.
I was hooked immediately. You will be too.
I fell in love with this book when I read it several years ago and decided to listen to the audio to prepare for an upcoming trip to Ireland. Hearing Frank Delaney reading it out loud made the stories even better! A book about a story teller really should be listened to, and instead of needing to use an actor, the author himself reads it and does an amazing job!