Title: An Irish Country Doctor
Author: Patrick Taylor
Genre: Historical fiction, Irish fiction
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Barry Laverty – Doctor Barry Laverty- his houseman’s year just finished, ink barely dry on his degree, pulled his beat-up Volkswagen Beetle to the side of the road and peered at a map lying on the passenger seat.
I read An Irish Country Doctor for the first time in 2007, and loved it. I just finished it for the second time this morning, which has only reinforced the idea that I have way too many outside reading commitments. When I read a book that I love this much, and I own the rest of titles in the series and yet haven’t found time to read them yet – that’s a problem!
Here’s the review I wrote the first time I read it – and I felt the same way as I read it again.
Barry Laverty has a brand-spanking-new medical degree from Belfast, and is heading to his first post as a country doctor in the fictional village of Ballybucklebo. He thinks he has this medicine thing all figured out. Until he meets the man he’ll be working with, Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly.
Dr. O’Reilly has been in practice in Ballybucklebo for years and years, and pretty near walks on water, according to the residents. His methods of examination, diagnosis and treatment are a little eccentric. Actually, a lot eccentric. Barry is thrust into the lives of Dr. O’Reilly and his patients – and learns what it means to be a doctor.
Along the way, we meet Mrs. Kinkaid – otherwise known as Kinky – housekeeper and cook extraordinaire; Arthur Guiness, the dog who is always extremely happy to see Barry; a half-crazy old couple who won’t marry due to lack of a roof; a young unwed mother who refuses to name the father of her child; a hypochondriacal major and his pushy wife; and a corrupt and arrogant city councilman. I laughed aloud while reading this book more than I ever remember doing before.
An Irish Country Doctor is based on Patrick Taylor’s years as a doctor in a country practice in Northern Ireland. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a novel – the characters are so true and real I felt I was reading a memoir.