When young Dr. Barry Laverty arrives in Ballybucklebo to begin as a doctor’s assistant to Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, the first thing he encounters is the massive doctor literally throwing one of his patients out of the door and into the bushes. An unorthodox introduction, but the start of the kind of learning that you don’t get in school. With a cast of eccentric characters that you would likely find in any pub, this is a story about community and service. Rules may be broken and textbooks left in the dust, but healing happens here, one way or another. The story takes off immediately as patients are seen and lessons are learned about how to practice medicine in a small town, use of placebos notwithstanding. Kinky Kincaid, the glue of the household, is the wise and sensible housekeeper who keeps things running smoothly despite the madcap capers of the old doctor and his apprentice. And she’s really good at getting mud out of pants. Throw in a killer cat and an alcoholic dog, and the book takes off by itself!
The novel has a real feel because the author was born and raised in the area and is a doctor himself.
The book doesn’t hold much intrigue or many surprises but the lyrical nature of the book and the charm of the setting carries it through and it had just enough rough edges in it to keep it out of the “fluff” category for me. I probably won’t read another installment just yet (yes there are more in the series!), but I will remember it when I next need a medicinal dose of a chuckle and a pint!