An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor

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An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Fairhead
Reviewed by Sue Fairhead
Summary: A novel almost in the style of James Herriot or Gervase Phinn, featuring the life of young Dr Barry Laverty, working in a rural Irish village.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: September 2009
Publisher: Brandon
ISBN: 978-0863224027

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Dr Barry Laverty is working for the older, and somewhat irascible Dr Fingal O'Reilly, in the fictional Ulster village of Ballybucklebo. They, their housekeeper Mrs Kinkaid, and the residents of the village were introduced in the book An Irish Country Doctor, which I haven't read, so it took me a few chapters to get into this novel.

It's set in the 1960s, in a simpler age when doctors were generally respected by the working people, where home birth was common, and where medical lawsuits were almost unknown. Almost, but not quite - for Dr Laverty is threatened with a lawsuit after the death of one of his patients. He also has to deal with the more immediate problem of rumours and gossip, which could damage his career. Fortunately Dr O'Reilly is on his side, enabling his young colleague to solve some problems and produce some apparent miracle cures.

I was strongly reminded of James Herriot's series of books about the life as a Yorkshire vet in training. Dr O'Reilly has a lot of the same characteristics as Siegfried Farnon, making him likeable and sympathetic. The incidents in the book are naturally medical rather than veterinary, including a difficult birth, a miscarriage, eye problems, strained ligaments and prostate trouble - but the banter between the doctors is similar to that of Herriot's vets. Then there are the village problems - a councillor threatening to modernise the pub, a convalescent man with nowhere to stay - and even a day at the races.

It wasn't a difficult or challenging read. It was ideal for picking up at odd moments and reading a chapter or two, since each is complete in itself, albeit with some ongoing threads. I didn't always remember who was whom amongst the villagers, but it didn't much matter. I did find myself slightly irritated that the conversations tended to be long-winded, perhaps reflecting real-life conversations complete with 'oh' and 'yes', rather than the more usual abbreviated conversations expected in novels. I also found it a bit disruptive that Barry keeps explaining Irish terms - despite there being a good glossary in the back - in a somewhat forced way.

But those are minor complaints. I didn't find the book as amusing or entertaining as some reviewers suggested it might be, but I certainly found it warm and relaxing. There's a low-key romantic element too - Patricia, Barry's lady-friend, is a feisty and delightful young woman, determined to be an engineer, hoping for a scholarship which will take her to Cambridge for three years. This, along with the possible lawsuit, mean that Barry's future is uncertain until near the end of the book when a village wedding provides the climax to the story, and resolves several threads tidily.

Recommended to anyone who enjoys this kind of book, following a young man in the early stages of his career - particularly if you like books based in Ireland.

Many thanks to the publishers for sending the book.

This can be read as a stand-alone novel but it is better if you read the first in the series - An Irish Country Doctor - beforehand. For a similar story set in the Scottish Borders you might enjoy Secrets in Prior's Ford by Eve Houston.

Buy An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor at Amazon.co.uk


Buy An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor at Amazon.com.

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