An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

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Taylor, Patrick. An Irish Country Doctor. New York: Forge, 2008.

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I discovered Patrick Taylor from returns and requests here at the library, and I’d been meaning to read him for some time. I enjoy Miss Read, and I thought his books might be similar to her books set in small English villages. I was spot-on with my assumption that this would be a cozy one, very similar to Miss Read. It’s perfect for curling up in a big chair, a dog at your feet, and a mug of something hot to drink while waiting for spring to arrive.

Taylor’s a little rougher around the edges than Miss Read but in a good way (just what one might expect from an Irish gentleman as opposed to an English gentlewoman), and he’s hilarious. Some of his scenes might be a bit hard for those who are medically squeamish, but they’re well worth the squeam or two it might take to get to the rewards they provide when it comes to seeing how a doctor can get the best of his patients.

Our main character here, or so it seems, is Barry Laverty. It’s 1964, and he’s fresh out of medical school with no clear plans for his future, so he decides to take an apprenticeship in theย Northern Irish village of Ballybucklebo. It’s a country village, full of country characters, the biggest of whom is Dr. Fingal Flaherty O’Reilly. So big is O’Reilly that he pretty much takes over the whole book, which was fine with me because a more entertaining doctor would be hard to find.

The life of a country doctor is tough. You work very long, hard hours, and people are always happy to tell you how to do your job and how you fall short. The rewards when they come, though, more than make up for the trouble. That’s what Barry, with a whole lot of help from Fingal, learns by the end. He also falls in love with the village practice, the countryside, and, yes, with a woman. Along the way, he finds himself caught up in many laugh-out-loud misadventures. A few touching, but not treacly, moments round out this charming tale.

It’s a happy-ending sort of book, so even though at one point, it seems like all kinds of bad things are going down, I didn’t worry too much. I had a feeling things would all work out just fine. I just didn’t know that the way they’d work out would be so much fun.

Pour me another cup of tea (or perhaps a shot of Irish whisky) and pass me the next volume in the series.