An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War: An Irish Country Novel

Written by Patrick Taylor
Review by Rebecca Henderson Palmer

aylor returns with the ninth installment of his series, one of four that features his hero Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, a beloved local doctor in Ballybucklebo, Ireland. In this edition, the story jumps back and forth from the 1960s, when O’Reilly serves as a country doctor, to his service in World War II as a surgeon lieutenant on the HMS Warspite. Charming tales of O’Reilly’s small-town patients are juxtaposed with harrowing accounts of his military service more than twenty years earlier.

This book moves O’Reilly’s story forward and fills in some gaps in his history. The tale begins slowly with more colorful stories about the eccentricities of life in a small Northern Ireland community than medicine, and when the war scenes appear, they too take a while to build steam as O’Reilly familiarizes himself with life in the navy. The details of World War II-era medicine and life on a royal battleship are extraordinary. The book concludes with a helpful glossary of Ulster phrases, a few recipes provided by O’Reilly’s housekeeper, and the author’s solemn oath to close up some loose ends in O’Reilly’s history in the next installment. Fans of Maeve Binchy and James Herriot won’t be disappointed.