Wednesday, March 18, 2009


By Frank Delaney

In true Frank Delaney fashion, Shannon is a novel that carries the reader straight into the heart of Ireland and into the homes of its inhabitants. With legends of how Ireland came to be, to delineations of Ireland's topography, Shannon is a story deserving of high praise.

In 1922, a priest named Robert Shannon journies to Ireland to find his roots and hopefully find himself along the way. He is a victim of shell shock after being stationed in France during the war. Though he was there as a chaplain, his heroics left him in a state of great mental distress. The American Archdiocese has decided to sent Father Shannon on a trip; the reader later discovers that they have an ulterior motive for sending him away. His being gone is their way of covering up something. That something is known only to a few.

Shannon begins with hooking the reader to a character that can be instantly empathized with:

At the vulnerable age of thirty, Robert Shannon lost his soul. Nothing is worse; no greater danger exists. Only sinners lose their souls, it's said, through the evil that they do. Not Robert Shannon. Incapable of anything but good, he lost his soul through savagery that he witnessed, horrors that he saw. And then, as he was repairing himself and his beliefs, he was ravaged further, in the pursuit of his own faith.

When you lose--- or have ripped from you--- the spirit that directs you, you have two options. Fight for your soul and win it back, and you'll evermore be a noble human being. Fail, and you die from loss of truth.

Frank Delaney assists the reader in seeing the land through which Father Shannon travels, by using subtle, peaceful images. As a result, it is simple to walk next to Father Shannon as he makes the journey to self-forgiveness:

They trudged happily through moorland, which turned into meadow. High skies took clouds across the sun now and then, and the patches of sunlight warmed their shoulders. Cows looked at them but did not feel moved to rise from their pools of grass. The meadow grew pooer: Clumps of mauve sedges interspersed with thin swaths of hay, coarse grasses, and a straggly hedge of thorn to which some white blossom still clung. Far ahead of them, at the eastern top corner of the moor, sottd a grove. They trudged through the spiky grass.

Within the grove lurked a stand of water, from which a clear stream flowed over a brown bed. Dense bushes crowded low to the water's edge. No life could be seen in the pool, it was too dark. Now and then a lazy bubble rose in the center, as though an underwater giant burped.

I've said it before and I will say it again: Frank Delaney is an admirable author of both physical and emotional journies. He knows his niche and he excels at it. It would be impossible for someone to read his books and not fall in love with Irish lore and land. Shannon is definitely one of his very best works, in that it is not merely a tale of discovery, it is also a story steeped in history and wrapped neatly with a hint of intrigue. Any reader can be assured of not being disappointed with Shannon by Frank Delaney.

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