Wednesday, September 23, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor

Back in March, I read Patrick Taylor’s An Irish Country Doctor and enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s the first book in a fairly large series so I made a mental note to seek out the next one, but I wasn’t in a tearing hurry. It was a charming book, but not something with a cliff-hanger ending. (That’s a plus, not a criticism.)

Anyway, the mood struck me to return to Ballybucklebo and see what is going on with young Dr. Barry Laverty and his mentor, Dr. Fingal O’Reilly in book two: An Irish Country Village.

Although it’s been a few months, it was easy to slide right back in to the fictional world in a novel that essentially picks up where the last one left off. Dr. Laverty has been offered a more permanent position with Dr. O’Reilly, with an eye to becoming a full partner. Laverty has fallen in love with Ballybucklebo and with the vision of himself as a country physician. He is thrilled and honored to get the offer and is ready to sign on.

Double disasters strike. (Or one disaster and one dilemma.) First, a patient dies unexpectedly. Laverty had previously missed a critical diagnosis in this man–a mistake that he has already beaten himself up over again and again. Now, he’s horrified to think that his error might have led to the man’s death. Moreover, the man’s wife is threatening a lawsuit. While Dr. O’Reilly is standing behind Laverty and won’t rescind his offer, Laverty wonders if he’ll have to reject it. In this small town, the people will never trust him again if he’s sued.

Besides all that, does he really want to stay? He’s fallen in love with Patricia Spence, a civil engineering student away at college in Belfast. It’s difficult enough getting to spend time with her, but worth the effort. Yet now, his brilliant girlfriend is competing for a scholarship to Cambridge. To win would be a huge accomplishment, not just for Patricia personally, but to advance the cause of women in engineering. Laverty wants to be supportive, but he can’t bear the idea of her moving farther away for three years. He could go with her, but he doesn’t want to leave Ballybucklebo. Unless he has to. . .

Much like the first novel, the book follows the two doctors about their daily business, both medical and non-medical, as they care for the people of their small town in myriad ways. The people give back. Some are sweet, some cantankerous, some goofy, but they are all interesting characters. The lives of Laverty and O’Reilly continue to charm. Laverty is an intelligent, thoughtful protagonist. It’s a slow amble of a read, though never dull – a stop and smell the roses kind of book. I’m sure I’ll be picking up book three in another few months down the road.