Monday, January 16, 2012

Audiobook Review: Shannon by Frank Delaney

Shannon: A Novel of Ireland by Frank Delaney tells the story of Marine chaplain Robert Shannon who returns to the country of his ancestors, Ireland, in search of restoration and recovery. It is 1922 and Shannon has recently returned from WWI where he witnessed atrocities and presided over the last moments of many young soldiers' lives - he is haunted by much of what he saw and what we views as his very passive role as compared to that of the soldiers. In addition to his memories of the war, he is also escaping unthinkable acts within his own Church. As he meanders around Ireland, he searches for a peace he could not capture at home.

Shannon: A Novel of Ireland presents us with Father Robert Shannon, a timid, rather shaken young priest who has been sent to Ireland by his Bishop ostensibly to aid his recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder. He instructs Shannon to walk throughout the country and that the walking will heal him. Shannon diligently follows the Bishop's direction and walks along the River Shannon and tries to find his ancestors. Along the way, Shannon encounters an assortment of Irish characters and families and there is a little story told by or with each one. Some of the funniest moments of the book take place with Shannon's encounters with the Irish - the author Delaney's signature humor is best on display in these sections of the book. These meetings are also devices to set historical context - Ireland is descending into its Civil War and the views of each side are worked into the interactions Shannon has along the way. Things get especially interesting when it is clear that Robert is being chased throughout the country and it has something to do with the Church back in Boston and what Shannon may have seen there. As it that weren't enough, Shannon finds a nurse he served with in the war and confronts feelings for her that are forbidden by his vows.

In the hands of a less talented storyteller, the many themes of this of this book could get confusing and fall flat. But Delaney expertly weaves the themes together into a coherent and compelling story that is all the more layered thanks to its many themes. Like I mentioned in my review of Delaney's Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show, what can appear as digressions in Delaney's novels are all actually part of the tapestry he is weaving in the true Irish storytelling tradition.

Having read (in paper) another of Delaney's novels, I was already familiar with his talent at storytelling but I had missed out on his wonderful narration. It is easy to see that Delaney was a radio personality - he has a melodious voice that beautifully reads the words of his novel. His lilting Irish accent is perfectly matched to the setting of the book and adds color to each of the Irish personalities Robert Shannon meets on his journey. This charming story and charming narration were perfect companions on many a car ride and walk throughout the city - I will definitely seek out more by the author and may well choose the audio over paper.  

Are there "go-to" authors for you on audio?

16 comments:

  1. I don't think I've listened to enough audiobooks by the same narrator to have a favorite but you've made me add Frank Delaney's audiobooks to my list! Thanks :)

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  2. this is on my must read list for the Ireland challenge.

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  3. Good to know that this is an author who translates well to audio!

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  4. I so enjoy multiple themes that are threaded together seamlessly. I'll have to add this to my list!

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  5. I listened to Venetia Kelly and thought his narration was wonderful!

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  6. I bought his book Ireland several years ago, and it has just sat on my bookshelves. I don't know why! I never do that. Usually I buy a book and devour it within a day. You've reminded me I need to pull this one out again.

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  7. I am so excited to read this one! My grandfather's name was Robert Shannon; my maiden name is Shannon. I wish I could listen to it on audio - but my library doesn't have it.

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  8. I'm fairly new to audiobooks but I'm seeing now how certain books and narrators can elevate a book in audio form. I'm sure I'll have some go to audio authors soon.

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  9. This sounds like it might be more enjoyable as an audio. Thanks for a great review.
    Ann

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  10. You would love "Round Ireland with a Fridge" - hilariously funny book. I love Ken Follett audiobooks.

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    1. ooh -good to know re: Round Ireland - I have it on my shelf. I almost downloaded Pillars of the Earth from Audible earlier this week. I have to remember to go back for it.

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  11. Coincidently, I am listening to Delaney read his novel Ireland," which in scope sounds very similar to Shannon. In this case, the stories of Ireland are told in the guise of a young boy/man's search for an itinerant storyteller, and in the course of that search the old man's stories are told.

    I am enjoying it immensely, and now see that I need to put Shannon on my TBR list as well.

    I didn't know that Delaney was a radio personality, but that makes perfect sense to me--his voice and narration are definitely easy listening.

    Great review!

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  12. I've read Ireland and Tipperary and they were both wonderful books, the author is very talented, I own this one and think I'll move it up the TBR list now, thanks for the review - looks like this will be just as good as his other books.

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  13. I've heard great things about Delaney and am fascinated by Ireland since visiting last year. This definitely sounds like a good one!

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  14. I'm always iffy on authors as narrators, but when they are good they're VERY good.

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