A Dublin Student Doctor: An Irish Country Novel

Written by Patrick Taylor
Review by Kristen Hannum

Taylor has a loyal fan base, and it’s easy to see why with this lovely, easygoing story about a medical student in 1930s Dublin. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly is older than most of the students; he had to join the Navy and save for three years before he could afford Trinity College medical school. Now that he’s in, the rugby-playing, flirtatious, kindhearted young man must decide whether he’ll do as his professors urge and see patients as exemplars of disease, or whether he’ll follow his heart and see them as real people, risking the pain of loss when the pre-antibiotic, pre-chemotherapy treatments don’t work. He’ll also have to overcome his Victorian reserve if he’s to have a chance to win the gray-eyed nurse he’s fallen in love with.

In the series’ previous books, set in the 1960s, Fingal is an established and quirky general physician in an Ulster town, and his young protégé is the protagonist. The damp, ugly, and often hopeless tenements of 1930s Dublin play a role, although Taylor doesn’t linger there.

A Dublin Student Doctor is rather a comfort book, like a cuppa in front of a warm fire on a winter’s day. Part of the quiet pleasure is its entertaining glossary of Irish terms (and a feckin’ Sláinte to youse!) at the end, which distinguishes between Ulster and Dublin dialect; and also the afterward, with recipes from Dr. O’Reilly’s housekeeper, including Guinness bread, stuffed pork filets, and tomato soup. Recommended.