By Frank Delaney
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060563486, 576pp.)
Publication Date: February 2005
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From a land famous for storytelling comes an "absolute masterpiece"* -- an epic novel of Ireland that captures the intimate, passionate texture of the Irish spirit.
One wintry evening in 1951, an itinerant storyteller -- a Seanchai, the very last practitioner of a fabled tradition extending back hundreds of years -- arrives unannounced at a house in the Irish countryside. In exchange for a bed and a warm meal, he invites his hosts and some of their neighbors to join him by the fireside, and begins to tell formative stories of Ireland's history. One of his listeners, a nine-year-old boy, grows so entranced by the story-telling that, when the old man leaves abruptly under mysterious circumstances, the boy devotes himself to finding him again.
Ronan's search for the Storyteller becomes both a journey of self-discovery and an immersion into the sometimes-conflicting histories of his native land. As the long-unspoken secrets of his own family begin to reveal themselves, he becomes increasingly single-minded in pursuit of the old man, who he fears may already be dead. But Ronan's personal path also leads him deeper and deeper into the history and mythology of Ireland itself, in all its drama, intrigue, and heroism.
Ireland travels through the centuries, interweaving Ronan's quest for the Storyteller with a richly evocative unfolding of the great moments in Irish history, ranging from the savage grip of the Ice Age to the green andtroubled land of tourist brochures and political unrest. Along the way, we meet foolish kings and innocent monks, fabled saints and great works of art, shrewd Normanraiders, strong tribal leaders, poets, politicians, and lovers. Each illuminates the magic of Ireland and the eternal connection of its people to the land.
A sweeping novel of huge ambition, Ireland is the beautifully told story of a remarkable nation. From the epic sweep of its telling to the precision of its characters -- great and small, tragic and comic -- it rings with the truth of a writer passionate about his country and in full command of his craft.
* Jack Higgins
Frank Delaney enjoyed a long career in BBC broadcasting before becoming a full-time writer. He is the author of several books that were bestsellers in the United Kingdom, including James Joyce's Odyssey, A Walk to the Western Isles, and The Celts. He now lives in Connecticut.
"Dramatic, adventurous, heroic, romantic, slyly comic ... imaginatively [tells] the history of Ireland."
"Miraculous ... As befits its title, IRELAND touches the heart and moves the soul."
"Extraordinary . Delaney is such a fabulous storyteller that the 560 pages fly by."
"If you're a lover of Irish myths and history, there are rich pickings here."
"An epic novel of history and storytelling."
-U.S. News & World Report
"Delaney gracefully collects essential myths-and invents a few, too-in his heartfelt ode to the oral tradition."
"A sprawling, riveting read ... the stories utterly captivate ...in this rich and satisfying book."
"In the end, IRELAND is, as the Irish themselves are fond of saying about everything from cabbage to castles, brilliant."
-San Antonio Express-News
"A vivid rendering of Irish history.. reminiscent of the best of James Michener in scope and sheer crowd-pleasing potential."
"An absolute masterpiece. With this extraordinary novel Frank Delaney joins the ranks of the greatest of Irish writers."
-Jack Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of Edge of Danger
"A remarkable achievement....Frank Delaney has written a beautiful book."
-Edward Rutherfurd, New York Times bestselling author of LONDON and THE PRINCES OF IRELAND
"History, legend, memory and myth come seamlessly together in Frank Delaney's wonderfully engaging new novel, Ireland."
"Highly recommended . fans of Edward Rutherford's historical sagas will love it."
-Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Delaney has written an epic novel on the history of Ireland....He's a born storyteller."