10/11/2006

An Irish Tale


At the end of August I mentioned that I had just begun delving into Ireland, by Frank Delaney. I'm ashamed to say that that was just about the last time I picked up the book until this weekend. I can make all kinds of excuses about school and so on and so forth, but the truth of the matter is that I've been feeling uninspired by reading lately. Usually reading is my outlet for escape but with the huge quantities of reading I've been doing for school, I've found myself looking at my "for fun" books and just sighing. So, despite a real desire to read this book (and a stack of others), I haven't found the motivation and, well, if it's something I read for fun, I'm not going to force myself to do it when I'm not feeling that it's fun.

Well, this weekend I was finally back in a reading mood, so I picked up Ireland again and resumed the tale, about 150 pages in. By the end of the weekend, the 600 or so pages had been quickly consumed. The slowness in getting to it had nothing to do with the story.

In Ireland, Delaney tells the tale of Ronan, his father, mother, and aunt, and Ronan's 20 year quest for the storyteller who visits them for three blissful nights when he's 8. Along with this tale, Delaney also tells the story of Ireland through the words of the storyteller and other storytellers or historians Ronan encounters on his quest. Legend as well as known historical fact are presented with fiction to soften the edges and personalize the events as they're retold, so you can get a feeling of what those living through the events might have felt as they listened to St. Patrick or watched Brendan the Navigator sail off to the west or fought along side Strongbow or suffered under the Papal Laws or barricaded themselves in the Dublin Post Office on Easter Monday.

While history is by far my least favorite subject, I would have been every bit as in love with this book if Delaney had chosen to leave out the story of Ronan and just provide the stories from history. Adding Ronan into the mix adds the dimension that pushes this book out of the category of something anyone with an interest in Ireland should read into the category of books that anyone who loves good writing and quality storytelling should read.

Six stars out of five.

6 comments:

Rach said...

Usually reading is my outlet for escape but with the huge quantities of reading I've been doing for school, I've found myself looking at my "for fun" books and just sighing. So, despite a real desire to read this book (and a stack of others), I haven't found the motivation and, well, if it's something I read for fun, I'm not going to force myself to do it when I'm not feeling that it's fun.

I feel exactly the same way. I read a lot faster when I am reading it for my own enjoyment for that reason probably. I've got a stack of books too which I just haven't read yet...

Michelle said...

Oooh, sounds like a fun book. I'll have to look for it!

So will you guys ever get a chance to get to Ireland this year?

beth said...

Michelle, I think you'll love it! (I thought of you in a couple of places and said to myself, "Oooh, she'd love that description or tidbit.")

Probably not this year (2006) and more than likely not 2007 either. With both of us in school (with weirdly overlapping semesters) we have neither the free time nor the random spare cash laying about. Maybe in 2008! :)

Gwynne said...

Sounds like a great book...6 out of 5 stars, coming from you, is a real statement! Have you ever listened to the unabridged audiobook version of Angela's Ashes? One of my favorites.

beth said...

Gwynne, I haven't, no. (I actually haven't even read Angela's Ashes. Perhaps I'll give it a look-see. :)

Gwynne said...

Well, I "read" it (in audio form) before it was made into a movie and so had the benefit of hearing it fresh. I did not enjoy the movie but the book, as read by the author in his fine Irish brogue, was simply awesome story telling!