Tuesday, December 23, 2014

An Irish Country Doctor

An Irish Country Doctor
by Patrick Taylor
Recommended Ages: 14+

Audio-book reader John Keating put on accents from the length and breadth of the emerald isle in this first book of the Irish Country series, featuring a young physician in Northern Ireland who falls in love with the tiny Ulster town of Ballybucklebo.

Fresh out of medical school in Belfast, Dr. Barry Laverty decides to give general practice a try under the mentorship of senior Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. The crusty old doctor lives by the motto, "Never let the patient get the upper hand." Together with a motherly housekeeper named Kinky, a pretty engineering student named Patricia and a villageful of quirky characters, he gives Barry a first month of medical practice to remember.

While there is a lot of medical detail suited to the 1960s setting, the book is as much a romantic comedy as a portrait of a family physician at the start of his career. An adult content advisory is in order, not only because of the book's depiction of gross anatomy in all its grossness, but also because of its salty language, fairly frank sexuality, and some social and political issues parents may want to be prepared to discuss with their kids.

Unless the tykes are really into medicine, though, my guess is this book will appeal more to the grown-up reader's nostalgic streak. The spicy, rustic charm that makes Ireland a favorite holiday destination for American tourists may also bring them in, especially since the tension between Catholics and Protestants is toned down to an all but anachronistic mildness.

This 2007 novel is the first of already 10 novels, counting An Irish Doctor in Love and at Sea, which is due to be released in 2015. There are also two books of short stories based on the series. I am already enjoying the second book, An Irish Country Village.

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