Monday, January 12, 2015

An Irish Country Village

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

The second of ten novels in the Irish Country series concerns a few weeks in the 1960s in the Northern Ireland village of Ballybucklebo, where newly minted physician Barry Laverty has successfully completed his probationary period as assistant to the town doctor, a force of nature named Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly.

Trouble comes early to the young general practitioner. The widow of a patient who died shortly after Barry misdiagnosed a brain bleed is threatening to sue, but the autopsy results showing what actually caused the man's death are slow in coming. If the case goes to court, Barry's practice may be finished before it really begins. Plus, the girl he loves is taking an exam for a scholarship to Cambridge, making Barry uncertain whether he wants to stay. And then there's the little affair of the Black Swan, also known as the Dirty Duck - a local watering hole that holds the community together. Only its 99-year lease is up for renewal, and the greedy guts who owns the place is thinking about converting it into a tourist trap.

Barry handles his crises by throwing himself into his work and proving, with patient after patient, to be a terrific doctor. He correctly diagnoses a rare muscle disease. He saves an unwed mother from bleeding to death when her pregnancy miscarries. He scores an appointment with a specialist for a man suffering from Parkinson's disease. And he plays a role in curing a local girl of eczema brought on by workplace stress.

The tale is told with humor, romance and uniquely Irish charm. John Keating's skillful audio-book reading doesn't hurt one bit. And as a special bonus for audio-book readers, there's an epilogue narrated by the doctors' delightful housekeeper Maureen "Kinky" Kincaid, including several recipes for traditional Irish dishes enjoyed by her charges in this book. I want to try the soda farls!

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