05 March 2010

Review: An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Christmas is the third book in Patrick Taylor's Irish Country series. I read An Irish Country Doctor and Irish Country Village before I stared blogging. The following assumes you've read the first two books, although I doubt reading this review will ruin the fun. If you are concerned, jump to below the asterisks

It's six months after the young Dr. Barry Laverty arrived in the village of Ballybucklebo, just northeast up the coast from Belfast, to work with his father's old army buddy Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. Barry is beginning to get the hang of country doctoring, and the townsfolk have accepted him as one of their own. Even the dog, Arthur Guinness, is starting to take Barry seriously.

As Christmas approaches, Barry and Fingal are both a bit preoccupied with their love lives, but they always put their patients first. Being a country doctor, Barry has learned, means that you treat more than just medical conditions. For example, the doctors want to help Eileen Lindsay, a young widow who is worried finding money to buy her kids presents; Colin Brown, a six-year-old who doesn't want to go to school; and the Shanks family, who are new in town and don't yet know the local customs.

To top it off, there is new competition in town, one Dr. Ronald Hercules Fitzpatrick, whose methods of treatment leave a lot to be desired. What are the ethical obligations of Barry and Fingal to make sure that Ronald "first, does no harm"?

* * * * * * *
Taylor has created a wonderful cast of characters in the Irish Country series. The time period is 1964: rock and roll is on the radio, young people see a bright future, and women are just starting to fight for their rights. In the small village of Ballybucklebo , the citizens are on the cusp. They are are not as modern as Belfast and have pride in their country traditions, but they are not stuck in their ways; for instance, telephones are being installed in the remotest houses, and no one hesitates to seek treatment in the city hospital when necessary.

An Irish Country Christmas is full of small-town, character-driven humor, which is reminiscent of the Yorkshire world of James Herriot. The stories revolve around Barry, Fingal, and Mrs. Kincaid (their housekeeper) and their easygoing relationship with each other and the villagers. Don't miss this charming series.

The paperback edition of An Irish Country Christmas contains a glossary of Ulster expressions, and an afterword by Mrs. Kincaid, including a few of her recipes. The unabridged audio edition (Macmillan Audio) was narrated by John Keating, whose rendition of the Ulster-Scots language and accents draws you in and gives life to the characters.

Patrick Taylor has a great website where you can learn more about his characters and their village Here is a video of Talyor talking about his books.

Published by Forge, 2008
ISBN-13: 9780765320728

Challenges: Ireland Reading, Audiobook, Support Your Library, 2010, 100+
YTD: 20
Source: Print: review copy; audio: borrowed (see review policy)
Rating: B+


Juie 3/8/10, 4:49 PM  

So cute you that you reviewing an Irish Christmas book when it's almost St. Patrick's Day! This series sounds very enjoyable!

JoAnn 3/8/10, 4:50 PM  

I've been wanting to read this series. March would certainly be the time to start!

bermudaonion 3/8/10, 4:50 PM  

This sounds like a great series! I always want to move to a small town when I read a book like this - thankfully the feeling passes once I've finished the book.

JennBookshelf 3/8/10, 4:52 PM  

You know, I received the audio for review some time ago but never got around to listening to it. Your review has inspired me to pick it up again!

Kris 3/8/10, 4:52 PM  

Sounds like a wonderful series, I'll have to add the first to my wish list.

caite 3/8/10, 4:53 PM  

I am ashamed to say that I have the full series and have not started it yet. So little time, so many books.... :-)

Tribute Books 3/23/10, 1:15 PM  

Can't wait to get started on this series. Thanks.

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