Ronan O'Mara is 9 years old the first time a travelling story teller visits their home. He is so enthralled by the old man's stories of ancient and medieval Ireland that he becomes obssessed with finding the old man after he is forced to leave the area rather abruptly.
Throughout his young life he seems to be just a step behind the storyteller, but never quite catching up to him. He collects the stories the man has told, and eventually becomes a student of history at college. As he grows older and becomes more aware of the adults around him, he begins to feel that people are keeping secrets from him, that they always seem to change the subject or veer away whenever he's just about to find out more about the old man that so affected his life.
He reaches a breaking point one night when his aunt Kate informs him that they will take in a boarder at the home the two have been sharing while he's been going to school and she's been teaching. Finally having had enough of the secrets he feels are being kept from him (and there is much more going on, but I don't want to spoil the read for anyone!) he leaves after a blowup, and walks, with no real purpose in mind except to get away.
For the first time in his life he's on his own with no one dictating his every move, and is amazed at the freedom he feels. He travels the country of Ireland, visiting many of the places that the storyteller told of, meeting many people, and continuing to search for the old man. During this trip he learns and grows, tries his own hand at some story telling. He does finally return home, and eventually learns the secrets that it seems were only kept from him. He also learns how to fit these into his life, and goes on to become a top student and then professor of history. There is one last surprise for him though in his continued search for the storyteller, who by now he is not even sure is still alive...
This was an amazing story. The copy I had was actually read by the author himself, and his voice was perfect, very resonant and colorful. I enjoyed this very much. To me the beauty of this story was not so much the plot line, but just the imparting of the stories, and what they and the storyteller meant to the people he shared them with. He really brings Ronan's struggle to life, and you feel the frustration of the boy becoming a man as he always seems to be one step behind the elusive old man that he longs so much to be like. You also feel the closure of everything coming full circle in the end, and how everything fits together. It was beautifully done, there's just no other description of it for me.
I will definitely be looking for more of Frank Delany's novels, preferrably audiobooks if he's read them himself! You can check out his website HERE.