Time Warner Books, £17.99
Nine-year-old Ronan O'Mara's first meeting with an old Storyteller, the last of his kind, proves a life changing experience. So entranced is Ronan by the man's tales of Ireland's past that he pledges his life to finding him again. On his quest, he meets others who know the Storyteller and draws ever closer to an understanding of this enigmatic figure. The Storyteller becomes a kind of mentor, guiding and teaching him and Ronan ultimately finds himself along the way.
Beautifully written, 'Ireland' is a treasure trove of narrative that blend myth, history and memory. The Storyteller's accounts of the building of the tomb at Newgrange, St Patrick and Brian Boru, to name but a few, highlight different facets of Irish history, whether it be our creativity, our religious faith or our rebelliousness. With every yarn, the history of Ireland becomes richer, leading the reader to a deeper understanding of who we are, with the tale of Ronan and the Storyteller reminding us that we Irish are still telling stories.
Frank Delaney's descriptions are vivid and his characters memorable, particularly the mythic Storyteller. A master craftsman who knows his homeland and her people, Delaney ingeniously sums up what it is to be Irish. This ambitious novel is moving and memorable and will tug at your heartstrings long after you turn the last page.