An Irish Country Doctor

( 201 )

Overview

Barry Laverty, M.B., can barely find the Northern Ireland village of Ballybucklebo on a map when he first sets out to seek gainful employment there. But Barry jumps at the chance to secure a position as an assistant in a small rural practice.

At least until he meets Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly.

The older physician has his own way of doing things. At first, Barry can’t decide if the pugnacious O’Reilly is the biggest charlatan he has ever met ...

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Overview

Barry Laverty, M.B., can barely find the Northern Ireland village of Ballybucklebo on a map when he first sets out to seek gainful employment there. But Barry jumps at the chance to secure a position as an assistant in a small rural practice.

At least until he meets Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly.

The older physician has his own way of doing things. At first, Barry can’t decide if the pugnacious O’Reilly is the biggest charlatan he has ever met or the best teacher he could ever hope for. Through O’Reilly, Barry soon gets to know all of the village’s colourful and endearing residents and a host of other eccentric characters who make every day an education for the inexperienced young doctor.

Ballybucklebo is a long way from Belfast, and Barry is quick to discover that he still has a lot to learn about country life. But with pluck and compassion, and only the slightest touch of blarney, he will find out more about life—and love—than he ever imagined back in medical school.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A straitlaced novice doctor gets initiated into the unorthodox world of a crafty rural sawbones in Taylor's American debut. Barry Laverty is fresh out of school and uncertain about what type of medicine he should practice when he answers an ad for a physician's assistant in Ballybucklebo, a small Northern Ireland town populated, it seems, entirely by eccentrics. Laverty is initially taken aback by his new boss, Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, whom he meets as O'Reilly is literally throwing a patient out of his office. Laverty spends most of the novel swaying between understanding O'Reilly's methods and second-guessing the boxer turned doctor who dishes out plenty of placebos and isn't above telling a white lie or a crude joke to worried patients. Though Laverty often comes across as painfully uptight, he also has an endearing-for-its-awkwardness streak that only surfaces around Patricia Spence, though she'd rather focus on her civil engineering studies than make time for a boyfriend. Serving as a foil to all the innocent fun is the lecherous, greedy Councillor Bishop, who, thanks to a scheming O'Reilly and a reluctant Laverty, gets his comeuppance. Despite the occasional whimsy overload, Taylor's novel makes for escapist, delightful fun. (Feb.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Based on journals the author kept during his early years in medical practice, this debut novel describes a young man's apprenticeship as a doctor in rural Ireland during the early 1960s. Fresh out of medical school in Belfast, Barry Laverty is looking for a different experience from most of his classmates. He takes a position assisting Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly in scenic Ballybucklebo, a town so tiny it hardly makes it onto the map. Rule-following Barry doesn't know what to make of his boss, a GP who seems to practice by gut, conducting less than thorough examinations on some patients and stretching the truth to others. Charmed and bullied by O'Reilly, Barry quickly becomes acquainted with the patients, and embroiled in Ballybucklebo's mini-dramas. (The most tantalizing one involves a pregnant young maid who refuses to divulge the identity of either her employer or her child's father; the doctors suspect a powerful local man.) Barry still has his doubts about O'Reilly's methods, particularly when he catches a misdiagnosis, but he realizes that he has a lot to learn from the old guy after he makes a mistake of his own, underestimating the symptoms of a notorious hypochondriac. The fledgling doctor's personal life becomes complicated when he meets Patricia, a pretty young engineering student from a neighboring town who is crippled by polio. Though both are smitten, Patricia worries that she won't be able to devote enough time to the romance. She comes around, and as Barry becomes more confident about his abilities, he decides that there's nowhere that he'd rather practice than Ballybucklebo. The town is an easy place for readers to sink into as well, with likable characters andatmospheric dialogue-though the plot is a bit thin. A sweetly affable story with little substance.
From the Publisher

"Narrator John Keating has a field day with the humor, long-winded stories, and colorful accents...[Keating] skillfully presents the unique and sometimes-hilarious Irish take on joy, sorrow, illness, and death." - AudioFile

“Welcome to the colorful Northern Ireland community of Ballybucklebo where there’s always something brewing beneath the Village’s deceptively sleepy surface. Fans of Karon’s Mitford series will enjoy this.” – Smoky Mountain Sentinel

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786296477
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 7/5/2007
  • Series: Irish Country Series , #1
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 531
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Taylor, M.D., was born and raised in Bangor County Down in Northern Ireland. After qualifying as a specialist in 1969, Dr. Taylor worked in Canada for thirty-one years. He now divides his time between Canada and Ireland.

John Keating’s numerous acting credits include Roundabout Theatre's production of Juno and the Paycock and La Mama ETC's production of Cat and the Moon, as well as various parts with the Irish Repertory Theater and the Irish Arts Center. He is a regular performer with the Independent Shakespeare Company and can also be seen in the HBO original mini-series John Adams, starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. John’s audiobook narrations have earned Earphone Awards and an Audie nomination. Most notably, he's read Eoin Colfer's Airman, Avi's The Traitors' Gate, and Jenny Nimmo's The Snow Spider. He also lent his voice to many of Patrick Taylor's Irish Country audiobooks.

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Read an Excerpt

Author’s Note

Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and the denizens of Ballybucklebo first appeared in 1995 in my monthly column in Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humour. It was suggested to me that these characters might form the foundation for a novel.

I had just finished Pray for Us Sinners, and hesitating to delve once more into the misery of the Ulster Troubles, I found the idea of something lighter to be appealing. An Irish Country Doctor began to take shape.

Like Only Wounded and Pray for Us Sinners, the book is set in the northeast corner of Ireland, but unlike its predecessors, which I strove to make historically accurate, this story has taken some liberties with geography and time.

The setting is a fictional village, the name of which came from my high-school French teacher who, enraged by my inability to conjugate irregular verbs, yelled, “Taylor, you’re stupid enough to come from Ballybucklebo.” Those of an etymological bent may wish to know what the name means. Bally (Irish, baile) is a townland—a mediaeval geographic term encompassing a small village and the surrounding farms, Buachaill means “boy,” and bó is a cow. In Bailebuchaillbó, or Ballybucklebo—the townland of the boy’s cow—time and place are as skewed as they are in Brigadoon.

Little Irish is spoken in the North, but I have been at pains to use the Ulster dialect. It is rich and colourful, but often incomprehensible to one not from that part of the world. For those who may have some difficulty, I have taken the liberty of appending a glossary (page 345).

My attention to the spoken idiom is as accurate as I can make it; however, the purist will note that in 1964, the Twelfth of July fell on a Sunday, not a Thursday, and Seamus Heaney’s first book of poetry was not published until 1966. No salmon river called the Bucklebo flows through north County Down. The nearest is the Shimna River in the Mourne Mountains. But everything else is as accurate as extensive reading and memory permit.

The rural Ulster that I have portrayed has vanished. The farms and villages still look much as they did, but the simplicity of rural life has been banished by the Troubles and the all-pervasive influence of television. The automatic respect for their learning shown to those at the top of the village hierarchy—doctor, teacher, minister, and priest—is a thing of the past, but men like O’Reilly were common when I was a very junior doctor. And on that subject, may I please lay to rest a question I am frequently asked by readers of my column in Stitches? Barry Laverty and Patrick Taylor are not one and the same. Doctor F. F. O’Reilly is a figment of my troubled mind, despite the efforts of some of my expatriate Ulster friends to see in him a respected—if unorthodox—medical practitioner of the time. Lady Macbeth does owe her being to our demoniacally possessed cat, Minnie, and Arthur Guinness owes his to a black Labrador, now long gone but who had an insatiable thirst for Foster’s lager. All the other characters are composites, drawn from my imagination and from my experiences as a rural GP.

Patrick Taylor

1

You Can’t Get There

from Here

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. Six Road Ends was clearly marked. He stared through the car’s insect-splattered windscreen. Judging by the maze of narrow country roads that ran one into the other just up ahead, somewhere at the end of one of those blackthorn-hedged byways lay the village of Ballybucklebo. But which road should he take? And, he reminded himself, there was more to that question than simple geography.

Most of his graduating classmates from the medical school of the Queen’s University of Belfast had clear plans for their careers. But he hadn’t a clue. General practice? Specialize? And if so, which speciality? Barry shrugged. He was twenty-four, single, no responsibilities. He knew he had all the time in the world to think about his medical future, but his immediate prospects might not be bright if he were late for his five o’clock appointment, and though finding a direction for his life might be important, his most pressing need was to earn enough to pay off the loan on the car.

He scowled at the map and retraced the road he had travelled from Belfast, but the Six Road Ends lay near the margin of the paper. No Ballybucklebo in sight. What to do?

He looked up, and as he did he glimpsed himself in the rearview mirror. Blue eyes looked back at him from a clean-shaven oval face. His tie was askew. No matter how carefully he tied the thing, the knot always managed to wander off under one collar tip. He understood the importance of first impressions and did not want to look scruffy. He tugged the tie back into place, then tried to smooth down the cowlick on the crown of his fair hair, but up it popped. He shrugged. It would just have to stay that way. He wasn’t going to a beauty contest—it was his medical credentials that would be scrutinized. At least his hair was cut short, not like the style affected by that new musical group, the Beatles.

One last glance at the map confirmed that it would be of no help in finding his destination. Perhaps, he thought, there would be a signpost at the junction. He got out of the vehicle, and the springs creaked. Brunhilde, as he called his car, was protesting about the weight of his worldly goods: two suitcases, one with his meagre wardrobe, the other crammed with medical texts; a doctor’s medical bag tucked under the bonnet; and a fly rod, creel, and hip waders lying in the backseat. Not much to show for someone possessing a medical degree, he thought, but with any luck his finances would soon take a turn for the better—if he could just find Ballybucklebo.

He leant against the car door, conscious that his five-foot-eight, slightly built frame barely gave him enough height to peer over Brunhilde’s domed roof, and even standing on tiptoe he could see no evidence of a signpost. Perhaps it was hidden behind the hedges.

He walked to the junction and looked around to find a grave deficiency of signposts. Maybe Ballybucklebo’s like Brigadoon, he thought, and only appears every hundred years. I’d better start humming “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” and hope to God one of the little people shows up to give me directions.

He walked back to the car in the warmth of the Ulster afternoon, breathing in the gorse’s perfume from the little fields at either side of the road. He heard the liquid notes of a blackbird hiding in the fuchsia that grew wild in the hedgerow, the flowers drooping purple and scarlet in the summer air. Somewhere a cow lowed in basso counterpoint to the blackbird’s treble.

Barry savoured the moment. He might be unclear about what his future held, but one thing was certain. Nothing could ever persuade him that there was anywhere, anywhere at all, he would choose to live other than here in Northern Ireland.

No map, no signpost, and no little people, he thought as he approached the car. I’ll just have to pick a road and . . . He was pleasantly surprised to see a figure mounted on a bicycle crest the low hill and pedal sedately along the road.

“Excuse me.” Barry stepped into the path of the oncoming cyclist. “Excuse me.” The cyclist wobbled, braked, and stood, one foot on the ground and the other on a pedal. For a moment Barry wondered if his hopes of meeting a leprechaun had been fulfilled. “Good afternoon,” he said.

He was addressing a gangly youth, innocent face half hidden under a Paddy hat, but not hidden well enough to disguise a set of buckteeth that Barry decided would be the envy of every hare in the Six Counties. He carried a pitchfork over one shoulder and wore a black worsted waistcoat over a collarless shirt. His tweed trousers were tied at the knees with leather thongs that the locals called “nicky tams.”

“Grand day,” he remarked.

“It is.”

“Och, aye. Grand. Hay’s coming along fine, so it is.” The youth picked his nose.

“I wonder if you could help me?”

“Aye?” The cyclist lifted his hat and scratched his ginger hair. “Maybe.”

“I’m looking for Ballybucklebo.”

“Ballybucklebo?” His brow knitted, and the head scratching increased.

“Can you tell me how to get there?”

“Ballybucklebo?” He pursed his lips. “Boys-a-boys, thon’s a grand wee place, so it is.”

Barry tried not to let his growing exasperation show. “I’m sure it is, but I have to get there by five.”

“Five? Today, like?”

“Mmm.” Barry bit back the words “No. In the year 2000.” He waited.

The youth fumbled in the fob pocket of his waistcoat, produced a pocketwatch, and consulted it, frowning and muttering to himself. He looked at Barry. “Five? You’ve no much time left.”

“I know that. If you could just—”

“Ballybucklebo?”

“Please?”

“Och, aye.” He pointed to the road that lay straight ahead. “Take that road.”

“That one?”

“Aye. Follow your nose ’til you come to Willy John McCoubrey’s red barn.”

“Red barn. Right.”

“Now you don’t turn there.”

“Oh.”

“Not at all. Keep right on. You’ll see a black-and-white cow in a field—unless Willy John has her in the red barn for milking. Now go past her, and take the road to your right.” As he spoke, the youth pointed to the left side of the road.

Barry felt a mite confused. “First right past the black-and-white cow?”

“That’s her,” he said, continuing to point to the left. “From there on, it’s only a wee doddle. Mind you, sir . . .” He started to mount his rusty machine. Then he delivered the rest of the sentence with the solemnity of a priest giving the Benediction: “. . . if I’d been you, I wouldn’t have tried to get to Ballybucklebo from here in the first place.”

Barry looked sharply at his companion. The youth’s face showed not the least suggestion that he had been anything other than serious.

“Thank you,” said Barry, stifling his desire to laugh. “Thank you very much. Oh, and by the way, you wouldn’t happen to know the doctor there?”

The youth’s eyebrows shot upwards. His eyes widened, and he let go a long low whistle before he said, “Himself? Doctor O’Reilly? By God, I do, sir. In soul, I do.” With that, he mounted and pedalled furiously away.

Barry climbed into Brunhilde and wondered why his advisor had suddenly taken flight at the mere mention of Doctor O’Reilly. Well, he thought, if Willy John’s cow was in the right field, he’d soon find out. His appointment at five was with none other than Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly.

Copyright © 2004, 2007 by Patrick Taylor. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 201 )
Rating Distribution

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(99)

4 Star

(58)

3 Star

(26)

2 Star

(9)

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(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 201 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2012

    Heartwarming.......

    This was he first book in the series I read, and never wanted it to end. It's a charming Irish tale complete with a cast of characters that remind me somewhat of the PBS TV series "Doc Martin", though a bit earlier in time. Luckily, it seems the author doesn't want to end the story either and there are now several volumes. I've read them all, love them all, and am about to start the newest with another promised in the fall. There's no violence, no erotic scenes and certainly no vampires! It's a heartwarming story about the everyday lives of people who care about each other and their community.

    55 out of 59 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Like a breath of "fresh IRISH air"

    I never use the word adore but I have to here. I adore this book. It was very entertaining, witty, well written. Everything you could ask for in a novel. Patrick Taylor makes you feel like you have known his characters all your life and when the book is over you don't want to leave this magical little northern Ireland town that he has dropped you right smack in the middle of. I recommend all the books in this series....number five is coming out soon and I can't wait to get it.

    27 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Harriet klausner

    And here we go....harriet klausner ruining yet another book with her cliff note book report. Why cant you ban this plot spoiling poster, bn? She absolutely ruins each and every book she so calls reviews. Please ban her and delete her plot spoiling reviews. She ruins every book she touches. Here is yet another she has ruined.

    17 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An Irish Country Doctor

    Travel once again to the village of Ballybucklebo, with their charismatic characters, stories, problems, ups and downs, old loves and new loves, stopping along the way for a pint. Trouble time for Dr. Barry, cheering him on all the way. Dr. Fingal by his side and who can't forget Kinky, whos somehow knows. A great read that makes you feel you are there and home and not wanting to leave, an overall good feeling.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2012

    Light enjoyable reading.

    A young country doctor learns his trade when he becomes assistant to an older doctor in a small Irish village. This is a light, feel good type of story with humor, warmth, and enough quirky characters and situations to keep you smiling throughoout.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    This is a fun look at a small Northern Ireland village filled with delightful eccentric characters

    Barry Laverty has just graduated from medical school, but is not sure what type of medicine to practice. So he responds to an ad for a physician's assistant in Ballybucklebo, Northern Ireland. After he¿s hired he travels to his new home immediately.----------------- Barry meets his new boss Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly as the doctor tosses an apparent patient out into the street and onto his butt. After that introduction to the ex-boxer turned medical practitioner, Barry is not sure whether to marvel or scorn Fingal¿s bedside manner as the physician will do anything to calm a distraught patient. Still he finds he likes the eccentric townsfolk, his boss, and especially civil engineering student Patricia Spence. Perhaps the only person the newcomer disdains is greedy Councilor Bishop, who plots for his personal gain at the cost of the community.--------------- This is a fun look at a small Northern Ireland village filled with delightful eccentric characters especially the doctor with a bit of the brogue who is part gruff and part nurturer. The story line is simplistic as the outsider finds his place in the town while ready to slay the meanie Bishop and get the girl. This is simply a lighthearted tale that readers will enjoy.----------------- Harriet Klausner

    9 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Not just a good read, but a great read. If you enjoy the type of book where the characters come alive in a very realistic. human and humorous way, you will love this book

    An Irish Country Doctor is the story of young Barry Laverty, fresh out of medical school in the Northern Ireland of the early 1960's, who applies for a job with Fingal Flaherty O'Reilly, the title character, who has been in practice for a good many years. Barry is full of all the latest in medical advancements, which do not quite agree with the time-tested , albeit unorthodox, methods of Dr. O'Reilly. Barry agrees to work with Fingal on a trial basis. In the course of time he meets an assortment of people, most of them quite human, some of them characters, all of them unforgettable. But the most unforgettable is Fingal O'Reilly. In time, Barry begins to realize that he has a great deal to learn, and that Fingal O'Reilly and his patients, just might be the ones to teach him.
    I loved this book for the humor, the wonderful portrayal of all the characters-especially Maggie McCorkle, Kinky, Fingal, Patricia Spence and all the others, even Fingal's brew-loving dog Arthur Guinness. I give this book a great big thumbs up! I definitely am going to look for more books by Patrick Taylor.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    Highly Recommended - check it out!

    A most believable and entertaining read. The characters readily come alive, and getting to know them in an intimate way is not only fun but makes the experience all the more plausible and personal. Surely, everyone must know A Doctor O'Reilly and even a Doctor Laverty. And there should be a Mrs. Kincaid in all of our lives; there was in mine! I am Irish and enjoy a good tale set in the old country, but one does not have to be Irish to appreciate Patrick Taylor's "An Irish Country Doctor" as one of the better offerings of today. I have not read Patrick Taylor before but will again.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Interesting, different read

    I enjoyed this and it's sequel, An Irish Country Village. It is different, interesting, and I loved the colorful characters. The setting in the Irish countryside is so unique and the character development is well crafted and realistic. I really became intrigued with what medical condition would pop up next among the inhabitants of Ballybucklebo. I am looking forward to reading An Irish Country Christmas, and the new installment in the series, set to come out in September 2010, An Irish Country Courtship.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

    I have read all four in the series. If you like books about Ireland by Maeve Binchy you'll love these. The stories are about an older doctor and his new asssociate. One is about the housekeeper. Patrick Taylor even includes a glossary of the Northern Ireland words you might not have heard before. There are also recipes that are mentioned in the book. There are many characters and sub-plots. You even learn a lot about medicine. It brought back memories of having a doctor who was a General Practioner and who actually made house calls!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2009

    Warm & Fuzzy

    A great feel good book

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    If you Liked All Creatures Great and Small You'll Love This

    Very satisfying and easy to read. Sweet, sentimental story where you feel like you become part of the "family".

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A rip roaring good time!

    Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of being an Irish country doctor. A delightful book.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I am so glad I discovered this series!

    Having just graduated from medical school, Dr. Barry Laverty travels to the quaint village of Ballybucklebo and begins an internship with Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. Upon arrival, Dr. Laverty witnesses Dr. O'Reilly literally tossing a patient out of his clinic and telling him to wash his feet before he returns for medical care. Stunned by what he sees, Dr. Laverty considers leaving, but Dr. O'Reilly invites him in, provides him with a room, and soon puts him to work. He tells Dr. Laverty that if he stays long enough that he might learn a thing or two. And learn, he does. This story is filled with quirky characters, humor, and compassion. I'm hooked on the series!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

    So you thought you'd like to be a Country Doctor?

    I loved this book and continued thinking about it weeks after I had finished reading the book. Will continue reading this series. Patrick Taylor has a keen insight and understanding of people and obviously some knowledge of medicine.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2007

    pleasant enough

    This book would have been better if I could have avoided comparing it to James Herriot. But I couldn't, there were too many similarities, and it does not stand up to the master's works. Besides that point, it is charming and worth the read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2013

    pleasant read

    Patrick Taylor uses a country GP practice as a backdrop for his Irish tales of people and animals. Although not as colorful and as rich as James Herriot, the style is reminiscent of the animal stories, just with humans as the subjects. These books make a pleasant evening read by the fire.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2013

    Loved it. Can't wait to read the others

    Wonderful read. Enjoy!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014

    Very enjoyable - I look forward to more!

    This book is a deceptively simple story of a newly licensed Irish country doctor. It reminds me of the James Herriot series about an English country vet and the Jan Karon series about a small-town Episcopal priest. They all tell of ordinary people living ordinary lives, but you find yourself caring about each one of them and wanting to know more. I look forward to the next book in this series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    H

    Ct

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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