Chuck's Reviews > A Dublin Student Doctor

A Dublin Student Doctor by Patrick Taylor
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U_50x66
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May 06, 12

Read in May, 2012

Sometimes all you need is a halfway decent story told in workmanlike prose. For such an occasion, A Dublin Student Doctor fits the bill. It's a prequel to the other five books in Taylor's popular "Irish Country Novel" series, so if you are concerned about sequences, it probably ought to be read either before or after all the rest of them.

The novel begins and ends in the 1960s, but most of it is set during Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly's years as a medical student during the 1930s. Norms of social behavior were, of course, somewhat different back then, and Taylor captures some of the flavor of the time. His abundant use of medical terminology (Taylor himself is an M.D.) isn't all that essential, and one can skip over it without losing anything very important -- after all, Taylor's own protagonist had to resit some of his examinations after skipping too many classes the first time around. In contrast to the medical jargon, which often isn't defined, there is a glossary of everyday Irish terms whose meanings can sometimes be easily guessed, but which at other times are less than transparent. Sláinte!

Taylor's characters are clearly drawn, albeit rather one-dimensional: the father who wants to control his son's future; the compassionate son who answers the call of general medicine, but who can't bring himself to make a commitment to his girlfriend; fellow students, each largely defined by one principal trait (arrogance, wealth, patience, etc.).

As "literature lite", this is a perfectly acceptable beach or airplane read, especially for those who have some interest in Irish life back before the Celtic Tiger days. It might even spark a conversation with someone who notices the book's cover (this doesn't work for e-reader editions). On the other hand, if it's conversation that you're looking for, you might prefer to be observed reading Joyce's Dubliners.

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