inspirethoughts

Book Critique - An Irish Country Village (Irish Country Series #2)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: A pleasant sequel into the lives of two Irish Country Doctors, making their mark in the lives of the village people while taking care of them. An easy read, pleasant with less dangers however, weaved with surprises in handling various human nature, entertaining the readers thoroughly.

Happy National Book Lover's Day! For this book day, I am posting the next book in this cute little series that is getting charmer and charmer as the series progresses.

An Irish Country Village is the second book in the historical fiction, Irish Country Series, written by Patrick Taylor. first published February of 2008. The plot begins the day after where the story in the first book, An Irish Country Doctor ends.

The series is set in the fictional village, Ballybucklebo, in rural Northern Island, in the late 1960s, based on some of music of that time that the author refers to in the book. It follows the life and adventures of the novice doctor, Dr. Barry Laverty, and his partner and boss, Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. 

While writing the review of the first book, I had mentioned that the two doctors - O'Reilly and Laverty - and their practice in a rural town, all reminded me of my father's second brother, who used to be an RMP (Rural Medical Practitioner) doctor himself in a little village he lived in India. He is no more now, but I have tons of memories of him.

However, while reading this second book, if not the plot, the doctors reminded me of Doctor Lucien Blake from The Doctor Blake Mysteries, an Australian television show set in late 1950s, which I started watching recently. A series that has the titular character working with the local law enforcement to solve murders and mysterious cases. You can find more about that series here.

All seems to be going well for Dr. Laverty as Dr. O'Reilly's apprentice and potential prospect of becoming his partner in near future. Then their one-time patient, Major Fotheringham passes away, and the entire town of Ballybucklebo thinks Dr. Laverty's hand has a curse. Now he has to work doubly hard to re-cultivate the lost bridges; create confidence again; and bring back their patients before they lose their practice. And that is not all they face. Rest of the plot continues on how the two doctors work in tandem to save their practice and their village too.

Dr. Laverty is seen settling into his role of the country GP at Ballybucklebo; his love life proceeding along peacefully and happily. Dr. O'Reilly pleased and happy with having an assistant to share his burdens. And the rest of the Ballybuklebo moves on with it's ups and downs; some funny, some tragic, some expectant and some unexpected. Patrick weaves a pleasant tale around this fictional village and it's inhabitants.

It is so easy to fall in love with the village and people, for the resemble your everyday life; people who you might have come across daily; or incidents from your very own life. A different kind of fiction for me, I must say, that only keeps charming me at every turn of the page. 

The author uses plenty of Ulster language weaved in with regular Irish / British English. With the glossary he provides at the end of the book, explains several of the Ulster dialect, it's phrases and idioms. He also weaves some idioms and phrases from Irish English as well within. 

Patrick's love for literature and entertainment comes across clearly by the way he infuses the dialogues by both the doctors in the plot quoting lines from poems, novels and movies, referencing TV Shows, at every turn of the page. This definitely added more weight to the humor layer.

Hidden behind that humor, he shows how the two doctors address serious issues that come their way - a difficult delivery; an abortion; a rash caused by sheer tension for which no cure they can give; an accident on a rainy night calls for quick treatments on the fly; and saving the town from a selfish and stingy town councilor. During the process he manages to give the doctors solutions to their own problems. 

This book however, is plain history mingled with life's truths, set in a time when modern medicine and technology progress was just beginning. New inventions of modern medicine are clearly seen. And future inventions and discoveries are hoped for - for instant Dr. O'Reilly wishes for someone to create a wireless phone like the one they used on battleships, but the long range so its easier to get messages from patients. 

The love for Bushmills Irish Whiskey that Dr. O'Reilly has and rubs it onto Dr. Laverty in the book comes close to my love for this whiskey. Although I don’t drink anymore, it is still one of my favorites too. Incidentally in the book it is shown that the whiskey is made in Bushmills distillery in County Atrim, the next county from where the book is set in. And indeed there is an oldest Bushmills Distillery along the north coast of Ireland. More can be found about it here.

Aptly to bring it up, the only local joint that the town of Ballybucklebo has is a bar called The Black Swan AKA The Mucky Duck or simply The Duck. Recently I was watching another of the British TV Series, Shakespeare and Hathaway, about a pair of private investigators and their cases. The town they live in has a bar called The Mucky Mallard. Although not exactly named the same, both bars reminded me of each other.

As with the last book, Patrick included three Ulster recipes at the end of this book - two non-meat kind and one meat kind. I am tempted to try one of the non-meat recipes in my kitchen. May be I will. I am yet to try the ones from the previous books. If I do, you may as well see about them in my blog.

A pleasant sequel into the lives of two Irish Country Doctors, making their mark in the lives of the village people while taking care of them. An easy read, pleasant with less dangers however, weaved with surprises in handling various human nature, entertaining the readers thoroughly.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Donal talks about watching an American movie in which all the villagers rally together to raise a bar.  Having recently watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I am guessing Donal is referring to that film. 

b. Patricia Spence completes her exam and wins a seat at the prestigious Cambridge Architectural college. 

c. Seems to be a history between Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly and Sister Caitlin "Kitty" O'Hallorhan, which they seem to resume in this book.

d. Sonny and Maggie get married at the ripe age of 60 years.

e. Author has several references to literature and entertainment in this book:

i. Books - The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton; Treasure Island; Hamlet; Tweedledum and Tweedledee from Through the Looking Glass; The Cry and the Covenant by Morton Thompson; Of Revenge, an essay by Sir Francis Bacon; Woman's Own Magazine; Bram Stoker's Dracula; Tennyson's Ulysses, Charge of the Light Brigde; James Bond novel From Russia with Love; Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (specially about Turtle Soup in Chapter 10); C. S. Forester's Hornblower books; 

ii. Music - The Beatles; The Rolling Stones; I'm a Freeborn Man by Liam Clancy; The Galway Races by The Dubliners; My Lagan Love; The Mountains of Mourne by Percy French; Forty Shades of Green by Johnny Cash; Lord Cornwallis' ballad The World Turned Upside Down; old Irish song Maid in a Garret; Irish song The Star of County Down; 

iii. Movies / Plays - 1958 film South Pacific alluding to the song Some Enchanted Evening with the specific lines "Once you have found her, never let her go,";  1954 film White Christmas; 1964 My Fair Lady (Barry watches it while waiting for Patricia); 1964 A Hard Day's Night (Beatles movie); 1963 film The Great Escape (imagine Arthur Guinness the dog cast as in the role of Tunnel King portrayed by Charles Bronson in the film!, Hilarious!); The Old Bachelor (1693) and The Mourning Bride (1697) by William Congreve; 

iv. TV / Radio: The Goon Show; 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Dr. O'Reilly's family - Mrs. "Kinky" Kincaid, the housekeeper; Arthur Guinness, his very enthusiastic dog.

b. Dr. Barry's friends and family - Jack Mills, his friend at Campbell College; Patricia Spence, love interest; colleagues from Royal Victoria Hospital where he worked before (Mandy, nurse's unit clerk; Professor Malcolm Faulkner, his previous boss; Doctor Bereen; Connie, cafeteria cashier; Harry Sloan, pathologist; Dr. Ruth, Professor Charley Greer); 

c. Other characters: Archibald Auchinleck, the mailman & his son Rory; Donal Donnelly & Julie MacAteer; Maggie MacCorkle & Sonny, & General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, Magie's one-eyed cat; Councillor Bertie Bishop & his wife Florence; Seamus & Maureen Galvin, their infant boy Barry Fingal Galvin; Mrs. Brown & her son Colin; Fergus Finnegan, a jockey; Paddy & Myrtle MacVeigh, their brood Peter, Lucy, three triplets named Three Rhythm Boys; Kieran & Ethel O'Hagan; Declan & Melanie Finnegan; Helen Hewitt; Miss Moloney, owner of Ballybucklebo Botique; Will Dunleavy & his daughter Mary, run the local pub The Black Swan aka "the Mucky Duck"; Hughey & Doreen; Mr. Coffin, the village mortician; Miss Haggerty, district midwife; Captain O'Brien-Kelly; Turlough Donnelly, Donal's brother; The Marquis of Ballubucklebo & his son Sen; Honest Sammy Dolan; Constable Mulligan; Agnus Arbuthnot;

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 144, Line 9 from bottom, there is a missing closing quote right before "said Jack"

b. The original lines from the poem Turtle Soup by Lewis Carroll are "Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!". But on Pg. 315, Line 1 from bottom, Dr. O'Reilly phrases it as "Soup of the noontime, beautiful Soup!". Is he parodying the poem? Or did Patrick erred?

c. On Pg. 329, Dr. O'Reilly quotes "Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorn'd" to which Dr. Barry automatically responds "Congreve. The Old Bachelor". But he quote is from the 1967 play The Mourning Bride, again by William Congreve.

d. On Pg. 338, Line 2 from bottom, missing the opening quote before "Thanks for the call"

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