The Matchmaker of Kenmare

The Matchmaker of Kenmare

A Novel of Ireland

By Frank Delaney

Random House, Hardcover, 9781400067848, 416pp.

Publication Date: February 8, 2011


“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.

About the Author

Frank Delaney is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Ireland, as well as Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show, Tipperary, Shannon, and Simple Courage: A True Story of Peril on the Sea. A former judge for the Man Booker Prize, Delaney enjoyed a prominent career in BBC broadcasting before becoming a full-time writer. Born in Tipperary, Ireland, he now lives in New York City and Connecticut.

Praise For The Matchmaker of Kenmare

Praise for The Matchmaker of Kenmare 

Delaney wrings the pulp out of a Jack Higgins–like premise and turns it into something more satisfyingly literary.
-Publisher's Weekly

One of the best fictional wartime couples animates veteran Delaney's darkly wistful novel.

Delaney re-earns his reputation for total reader engagement with his latest deeply thought-out novel...As artillery guns fire overhead, hearts ache: a compelling combination.

"Delaney grabs the reader from the first paragraph with his comfortable and nostalgic style. His metaphors are so visual, readers can taste, smell and see the action." -Summer Moore, Associated Press

Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show
“Wonderful entertainment [that] encompasses Irish history and politics, a mystery, a quest, and a coming-of-age story . . . written with style and humor by a masterful storyteller.”—The Boston Globe
“Entrancing . . . Delaney unleashes a cavalcade of memorable characters worthy of John Irving. . . . Teeming with life and a sprawling, chaotic energy, [this novel] scores another goal for Delaney.”—The Plain Dealer
“Wonderfully engaging . . . History, legend, memory and myth come seamlessly together.”—The Washington Post
“Dramatic, adventurous, heroic, romantic, slyly comic.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Brilliant . . . [Delaney] does his country’s storytelling tradition proud.”—Entertainment Weekly
“An enthralling journey.”—The Seattle Times