Out of Practice by Penny Parkes
|Out of Practice by Penny Parkes|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A GP relocates to a small village in the hope of saving her marriage, but soon storm-clouds gather on the horizon and threaten her new way of life.|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: July 2016|
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster|
Shortlisted: The Romantic Comedy Novel 2017
In a last-ditch attempt to save her failing marriage, GP Holly Graham relocates to the charming village of Larkford with her family to work at the local practice. She finds life as a village doctor very different to her previous role in a busy city hospital, and falls in love with the close-knit community and its quirky residents. But just as Larkford is beginning to feel like home, Holly is hit by a bombshell that threatens to destroy everything she has worked so hard to achieve. Can she rise to the challenge and fight for what she loves? Maybe she will discover something about herself in the process.
Out of Practice has all of the ingredients for the ideal holiday read: a beautiful location, well-written characters, an engaging plot and an appropriate balance of humour and drama. Holly is a very likeable protagonist; a busy mum of twins and a successful doctor, but also clumsy, self-deprecating and vulnerable. She is an instant hit with the residents of Larkford, including the indomitable Elsie, an ageing celebrity who loves to share her wisdom over a wicked cocktail or two. Holly has also caught the eye of her workmate Taffy Jones, a dishy Welsh doctor with a bit of a reputation with the ladies. Does he view Holly as just another potential conquest, or does he have real feelings for her?
The book is full of warm humour and the way that the characters interact indicates a genuine camaraderie between them. I enjoyed 'looking in' on Holly's patients: there is a very funny scene with an old lady who has 'poo problems' who proceeds to hand a bemused Holly a paper bag containing something lumpy and brown. It's a cake, of course, although I'm not sure that Holly was brave enough to try it out!
I liked the way that the characters developed over the course of the story and how some of Holly's preconceptions about her work colleagues melted away when she actually got to know them. The characters are multi-faceted and have their strengths and weaknesses; its a good reminder not to judge people on appearances, as we don't know what is going on under the surface. One of the main characters has mental health issues and this sensitive subject is dealt with in a considerate and non-judgemental way by the author.
My only slight criticism was the way that things worked out in the end, especially with the villain of the story. The whole denouement just seemed a bit contrived and things worked out a little too neatly, with all plot elements stacked tidily in their boxes. However, this is escapist fiction, so I won't be too harsh, especially as I liked Holly and wanted things to work out well for her.
Fans of this book will enjoy The Hotel on Mulberry Bay by Melissa Hill. Like Larkford, the book is set in a delightful village where everyone knows each other and nothing remains a secret for long.
You can read more book reviews or buy Out of Practice by Penny Parkes at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Out of Practice by Penny Parkes at Amazon.com.
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