Frank Delaney: "The Matchmaker of Kenmare"

Frank Delaney: "The Matchmaker of Kenmare"

Set in Ireland during World War II, a new novel tells the story of a man and woman brought together by grief and compassion. They are drawn into the conflict as spies for the Allies and discover the perils of neutrality in both war and love.

Ireland's rich literary history is peopled with unforgettable characters. The female protagonist of Frank Delaney's new novel joins their ranks. Kate Begley is the matchmaker of Kenmare. She's strong, fearless and dangerously charming. She persuades the novel's narrator, Ben MacCarthy, to accompany her on missions to wartime Europe in search of a lost American officer. Part love-story, part-spy thriller, the book is a sequel to "Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show." It explores friendship and the boundaries of faith. And it forces the reader to question whether neutrality is truly possible -- in war or love.


Frank Delaney

author of the best-selling novel "Ireland" and several other books; former BBC broadcaster and judge for the Man Booker Prize.

Author Extra: Frank Delaney Answers Questions

Mr. Delaney stayed after the show to answer a few more questions.

Q: What is it about the English that permitted them to go forth and divide and conquer? The Welsh? The Scots? The Irish? The French? Spanish? The Americas? India? Etc., etc. - From Efrain via email

A: Well – they had the energy and they had the means. They were a belligerent island nation who saw opportunities early, and who had the imagination to explore. When they found countries less well developed than themselves they colonized them. Remember – a ship full of armed sailors could easily overwhelm unarmed native people.

Diane would have liked to ask Mr. Delaney the following questions, but she didn't get to them during the show:

Q: What it is about the narrator, Ben McCarthy, that has sustained you through two novels?

A: His essential decency: Is it possible to have a good but somewhat tragic man as a hero-protagonist?

Q: Is there anything quintessentially Irish about Kate?

A: She is full of possibility and she is imaginative. She can't be confined, she won't stay in any box, and she believes much more in the law of possibility than probability or determination.

Q: Is there a tradition of matchmaking in Ireland?

A: Yes – as there is in all mainly rural societies. But they don't have to be rural. And there's always been informal matchmaking too!

Q: In what ways do you see the characters of Charles Miller and Sebastian Volunder as similar?

A: They are both men who understand that ruthless killing is a necessary part of war and neither will permit the element of emotion to enter.

Q: You've written on your blog that you have an almost obsessive fascination with mythology. How did that come about?

A: I suppose I must have been exposed to mythology earlier. If you're taught as fact that the first political division of your country was between the conquerors who took command of everything above the ground and the vanquished who took control of everything below the ground you tend to ingest mythology early!

Q: Could you describe the Ireland of your childhood?

A: Mystical and impoverished; magical and violent; green and silent; lonely and invasive – a land of contrasts and strong opinions; a land of safety and sudden danger – and a land of stories, stories, stories and glorious horses.

Q: Why did you give up your journalism career for writing fiction?

A: I wanted to go deeper and I wanted to live my emotional life according to my own stories.

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