I’ve shared before with readers of this blog how much I enjoy audio books. I almost always have one going in my car, and I sometimes listen to them on my iPod when I travel.
Well, I’m listening to a beauty of a book right now. It is Ireland by Frank Delaney, read by the author. I bought it from Audible.com (as is my usual practice) and burned it to CDs for my car. It’s a big book. Fifteen CDs worth.
For the first five to ten minutes, I wasn’t sure I was going to like the novel. It’s different in the way the story unfolds. But I quickly changed my mind. I am now on disk #8 and thoroughly entranced. Here is the publisher’s blurb:
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 and troubled 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 Norman raiders, 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.
Okay. I’m an author. I know that back cover copy is created to sell a book. But as a reader, I can say that this isn’t hyperbole. It doesn’t hurt that the story is read by the author. His wonderful Irish accent deftly adjusts for each character, making the audio book a pleasure to listen to. If you prefer to read the novel rather than listen to it, I feel quite certain the experience will be just as wonderful.
I know it has me dreaming once again of visiting the land of my maternal ancestors.