Historical Fiction: The Matchmaker of Kenmare, by Frank Delaney

The Matchmaker of KenmareMove over, Maeve Binchy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kate Begley is heir to her grandmother’s title of matchmaker of Kenmare, with all the common sense and folk magic encompassed by that position. Kate’s parents died when she was a small child, drowned in an accident in the ocean that she can see from the window of her cottage.

Ben McCarthy has suffered losses of his own, his beloved young wife having been stolen from him 10 years ago. He took a position as a gatherer of folklore for the national commission, and spends his days meeting people and recording their tales, while never forgetting to make inquiries about Venetia. I suppose it was only fate that brought him to the matchmaker’s door.

Author Delaney ensnares readers from page 1, with his lyrical prose, evocative time period (WWII), and irresistible settings. The first quarter of the novel is comprised of vignettes, journal entries, and teasers, luring the reader on to discover what actually happened. Eventually, Kate encounters an American officer, and makes her own match, but there’s a price she must pay. By now, Kate and Ben are fast friends, and she finagles him in the best Irish way to accompany her to war torn France. The war scenes in this book are incredible. Delaney can write in such a way that you’re there as Ben’s shadow. When Kate’s new husband disappears, who else but Ben is better suited to understand Kate’s need to find out what happened to him?

The Matchmaker of Kenmare starts out small and ends up universal. Love, loss, faith, magic, violence, courage, and hope: it’s all there, between two covers. Don’t miss this one.


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