Title: An Irish Country Village
Author: Patrick Taylor
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Irish fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: Barry Laverty- Doctor Barry Laverty – heard the clattering of a frying pan on a stove and smelled bacon frying.
An Irish Country Village picks up Dr. Barry Laverty’s story right where we left off at the end of An Irish Country Doctor. He is considering Dr. O’Reilly’s offer to stay on as partner, is falling in love with Patricia, and is starting to feel at home among the oddball residents of Ballybucklebo. Then one of Barry’s patients dies suddenly, and he is eyed with suspicion by the very patients who hailed him as friend just days ago. He is also falling hard for Patricia, who has applied for an engineering scholarship that would take her to England. As Barry awaits the results of a post-mortem that will either exonerate him or expose a deadly mistake, as well as Patricia’s examination results that could take her far away, he is faced with a decision about his future.
I thoroughly enjoyed this second visit to Ballybucklebo – reading it was like settling down for a long conversation with an old friend. I especially appreciated that the story picked right up where we left off, which made it easy to remember what had happened in book one. The village in itself is a character, but it is the personalities that people it who make Ballybucklebo a place I’d like to visit. Long after finishing the book, I can see these people in my mind’s eye: buck-toothed Donal and his psychedelic bike; Maggie, with her phantom headaches that appear a few inches above her head; Kinky, the woman who runs the doctors’ home – and lives; and, of course, bigger-than-life Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, whose brashness and bluster fails to hide how much he loves his village and its residents.
The romance between Barry and Patricia is a continuing thread that runs throughout the book, and I appreciated the fact that it wasn’t wrapped up in a neat little bow. It moved along amidst the complications you would expect when merging two people who have career paths chosen and laid out before them. Barry’s reaction to Patricia’s aspirations is refreshing for the time period (1960s), one in which most men, especially in Ireland, expected their wives to stay at home and have no other career than caring for family and household.
I am very happy that Patrick Taylor has continued to write of Barry’s sojourn in Ballybucklebo. I will be listening to the audiobook edition of An Irish Country Christmas as soon as it arrives on the hold shelf at the library, and then I have a review copy of his latest, An Irish Country Courtship, waiting on the shelf.