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The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of…

The Matchmaker of Kenmare: A Novel of Ireland

by Frank Delaney

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There are no leprechauns in Frank Delany's The Matchmaker of Kenmare. Even so it qualifies as an Irish tall tale. Narrator Ben McCarthy, also the hero of Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, works as a folklorist. He travels about the Irish countryside in the early days of World War II collecting folk tales. While investigating the work of matchmakers, he meets Kate Begley, a young woman who is learning the business from her grandmother.

Ben becomes smitten with Kate, but there are a couple of problems. First, if you've read the earlier novel you'll know that he is married to actress Venetia Kelly, who has disappeared. While Ben roams the countryside, he continues his search for his missing wife. Second, while Kate likes Ben, she loves a dashing American officer named Charles Miller, and she enlists Ben's help as she tries to make her own match with him.

Amazingly, Ben goes along with Kate's plans, which soon involve sneaking into occupied France to kidnap a German officer and bring him back to Ireland. Before the war, Kate had found a wife for the German, who it turns out is only too happy to be rescued from the war and taken back to neutral Ireland. Upon returning with her prize for Charles, he agrees to marry her. Then he leaves for the war.

Soon Kate enlists Ben's aid once again. Charles, who has earned the nickname Killer Miller, is missing in action and presumed dead, but Kate remains convinced he is still alive. She and Ben return to France and go behind enemy lines to look for him. I don't know which is harder to believe: that a woman would venture into a war zone to find her husband to bring him home with her, that another man (who also loves her) would help her or that members of the underground would put their lives at risk for such a crazy scheme.

The search for Charles (and Venetia) continues even after the war's end and takes Ben and Kate to America, where they travel halfway across the country in the company of a giraffe. I said this was a tall tale. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Jul 17, 2013 |
In a story that weaves Irish myth into wartime travels, Miss Kate Begley, the Matchmaker of Kenmare helps Ben McCarthy, a story collector of the Irish Folklore commission, cope with the grief of the sudden disappearance of his wife Venetia Kelly. When an American military intelligence officer arrives in Kenmare, Kate and Ben are drawn into the war conflict when they use the neutrality of the Irish heritage to travel to London and operate as spies, where they discover the perils of both love and war.
  SalemAthenaeum | Jun 16, 2011 |
Ben MacCarthy, we first met in Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show.
I thought I would have another go as I liked Venetia's story.
I think perhaps I should have lt it be. Although the characters
of Ben and Kate were interesting, and Ben likable if weak, I still
felt somewhat mired in the story.

To me, three stars is a good solid read. This book missed being a
four star read simply due to its lag. I understand that Delaney
is a storyteller, and that is different from simply being a writer.
I understand that a storyteller takes longer to weave the words that
finally, in the end, become a whole fabric and that often this is good.

From Kenmare, to Kenmare. From Ireland, to France, and Germany to
the United states and back around again we went. There were stories
of love, death, lies and atrocity. Somewhere in there I believe there
was even a bit of humor, but bless me if I can remember.

I am finished with Ben now. I don't care what happens to him.
I should admire Kate, but somehow, she leaves me cold. And may I
finish by saying that I am a fan of giraffes but really? Did
we need to meet one here? ( )
  mckait | Mar 14, 2011 |
From my book review blog Rundpinne..."The Matchmaker of Kenmare by Frank Delaney is an exquisite story of the life of Ben MacCarthy, an aficionado of Irish folklore, as seen through his eyes as narrator. "...My fill review may be read here: http://www.rundpinne.com/2011/03/book-review-the-matchmaker-of-kenmare-by-frank-... ( )
  knittingmomof3 | Mar 12, 2011 |
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When matchmaker Kate Begley's husband, U.S. intelligence officer Charles Miller disappears, she enlists Ben MacCarthy's help in finding him. They travel to France and Germany, where they stumble across the German army about to launch its last-gasp assault in the Ardennes and end up questioning the wisdom of remaining neutral in the face of overwhelming evil.… (more)

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