Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

This review appeared in the Stratford Gazette on February 17, 2011
Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian



An Irish Country Courtship by Patrick Taylor
@SPL: FIC Taylo

After taking a break to fill in the back-story of housekeeper Kinky Kincaid, Patrick Taylor welcomes us back to Ballybucklebo in Ulster (that’s Northern Ireland to you and me), home of the doctors Barry Laverty and Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly. When last the doctors were in, Barry was anticipating the arrival of his girlfriend Patricia Spence, and Fingal was finding himself drawn to a former flame, Kitty O’Halloran. However the book’s title An Irish Country Courtship applies to only one of the two doctors, as romance goes south for one of them. But there is enough to keep them both busy – a bad case of ringworm infiltrates Sue Nolan’s schoolroom – source unknown, shopkeeper Alice Maloney’s mysterious illness grows worse, Hester Patton’s twins are early (not an easy delivery in 1964), a long-time patient suffers a stroke, and the shifty counselor Bertie Bishop is up to his old tricks – out to cheat some of his own employees out of their hard-won wages – and Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly is out to stop him, with inspiration from the ancient art of Japanese ju-jitsu. Amidst it all, Barry begins to question his future as a GP when he has to continually refer his patients to specialists, and wonders if he should find a specialty of his own – leaving Fingal to find a new assistant. In Patrick Taylor’s 1960’s Northern Ireland there is no sign of “the troubles”, it being as idyllic a landscape as James Herriot’s Yorkshire Dales, if slightly more up-to-date in its cultural references. The dialogue is often colloquial Irish (and explained in the glossary), the story-telling fluid and gentle, and the characters, as ever, memorable. And in the end, romance does prevail as one doctor finds himself engaged, and the other well on his way to mending a broken heart. The author answers his fans’ questions in the rear of the book, and again as always, Kinky provides some of her most memorable recipes, such as sticky toffee pudding and butterscotch sauce (with Irish whisky, of course, not that Scottish stuff). Available in hardcover or as a book-on-CD, find An Irish Country Courtship and Patrick Taylor’s other titles in this series http://spl.bibliocommons.com.

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