Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Irish Country Wedding

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

I had just resolved not to skip ahead in a series of books I was following when I borrowed this audiobook read by John Keating from the county library. Looking back, I think the librarian told me at the time that it wasn't the fourth book in the Irish County series - that would be An Irish Country Girl, which the library also holds - but I must have been in a hurry, or something broke my concentration, because instead of going back for Book 4, I went ahead and borrowed Book 7. And yet, oddly enough, I don't feel that I've missed much. Maybe at least a couple of the intervening books were prequels. We'll find out in due time.

The first three books of this series, set around 1965 in the Northern Ireland region of County Down, features a young general practice doctor named Barry Laverty and his mentor, the crusty Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, and their doings in and around the village of Ballybucklebo. While Barry fell in and out of love, O'Reilly has revived an old flame and is now set to marry Kitty O'Halloran, a sweetheart who waited for him while he married another girl and lost her in a World War II air raid. A second shot at family happiness may lie before him, if only he can work out a way for Kitty to live in harmony with the housekeeper, Mrs. Maureen "Kinky" Kincaid, a Corkwoman with a heart of corn but one who is very territorial about her kitchen.

Kinky's anxiety about her future in the doctors' household is nothing helped by the bout of sickness that lays her low during the weeks leading up to the wedding. While both doctors try to find ways to smooth her way back into their altered family circle, they must also hire someone to help them answer the phone and organize their practice. They hire a spirited young woman whose ambition to become a doctor inspires O'Reilly to do another good deed above and beyond a family doctor's regular call of duty. Barry, meanwhile, tries to help one of his patients get her job back and hatches a plot to save the misbehaving pet of one of his rambunctious younger patients. And both doctors do their share to help a young family redeem the home of their dreams from under the schemes of a greedy county councilman.

Like the previous books in the series, or at least the three I had read, this installment kept me laughing, guessing how things were going to work out, and borrowing charming turns of phrase that pour continually from the lips of the Ulstermen and -women in this book. I particularly liked O'Reilly's description of the life of a poor student as "living off the smell of an oil-soaked rag." And trust me, when I've gotten through the next couple of audiobooks on deck, I will be back for more escapes into An Irish Country something or other.

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