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Irish Country #10

An Irish Doctor in Love and at Sea

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Long before Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly came to the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, young Surgeon-lieutenant O'Reilly answered the call of duty to serve in World War II. Fingal just wants to marry his beloved Deirdre and live happily ever after. First he must hone his skills at a British naval hospital before reporting back to the HMS 'Warspite,' where, as a ship's doctor, he faces danger upon the high seas. With German bombers a constant threat, the future has never been more uncertain, but Fingal and Deirdre are determined to make a life together . . . no matter what may lie ahead.

Decades later, the war is long over, and O'Reilly is content to mend the bodies and souls of his patients in Ballybucklebo, but there are still changes and challenges aplenty. A difficult pregnancy, as well as an old colleague badly in denial concerning his own serious medical condition, tests O'Reilly and his young partner, Barry Laverty. But even with all that occupies him in the present, can O'Reilly ever truly let go of the ghosts from his past?

Shifting effortlessly between two singular eras, bestselling author Patrick Taylor continues the story of O'Reilly's wartime experiences, while vividly bringing the daily joys and struggles of Ballybucklebo to life once more.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

496 pages, Hardcover

First published November 4, 2015

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About the author

Patrick Taylor

103 books1,225 followers
There is more than one author with this name

Patrick Taylor, M.D., is the author of the Irish Country books, including An Irish Country Doctor, An Irish Country Village, An Irish Country Christmas, An Irish Country Girl, and An Irish Country Courtship. Taylor was born and raised in Bangor, County Down, in Northern Ireland. After qualifying as a specialist in 1969, he worked in Canada for thirty-one years. He now lives on Saltspring Island, British Columbia.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 181 reviews
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,710 reviews929 followers
August 18, 2020
Yeah the rating remains unchanged. This was just bad. I have nothing else to say about it besides that. I am still annoyed that we didn't get much time devoted to the whole Kitty and Fingal thing with her going to visit someone from her past after the space it took up in the last book.

Previous review.
Well I think this series is going to continue on for some time. I am no longer going to follow it where it goes. Patrick Taylor joins a list of authors that I have read and initially loved, who I decided that time is short, and I refuse to read anymore books by this author anymore when there are better books to spend my time with.

Please note that if you have not read the series til now, there will be spoilers included from the previous books.

I was initially crazy about this series. The first book in the series, An Irish Country Doctor (Irish Country #1) was a bit long and had a lot of medical information that I didn't think was that necessary, but all in all I was pretty happy to read about the characters of Doctor Fingal O'Reilly and Doctor Barry Laverty. Reading about the mythical village of Ballybucklebo and all of it's citizens was a fun way to pass the time.

Up until An Irish Country Courtship (Irish Country #5) I was pretty happy with the series. Mr. Taylor took pains to include both Fingal and Barry's points of view so it didn't feel too bogged down with just one character. However, that all seemed to stop when we started to focus solely on the character of Fingal in the series, starting with A Dublin Student Doctor (Irish Country #6). Though we seemed to return to form with An Irish Country Wedding (Irish Country #7) and I hoped that the standalone novel that we got focusing on O'Reilly was just a one-off. Especially because I didn't love it the same way that I loved An Irish Country Girl (Irish Country #4) that focused on the character of Mrs. Kinky Kincaid who was the housekeeper to both Doctors. However, Mr. Taylor proceeded to write whole novels with O'Reilly with the reader following his student days in Dublin, his initial romance with his now wife, Kitty, and we would hear rumblings about how he met and lost his first wife which were Fingal O'Reilly, Irish Doctor (Irish Country #8), An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War (Irish Country #9) and The Wily O'Reilly: Irish Country Stories (Irish Country #10). In the latter books we lost the important POV of Barry which I thought kept the books more realistic.

Reading about O'Reilly at a younger age became increasingly boring to me as a reader. And that's because we already knew his story in the first book. A widower who lost his wife during World War II. Why in the world this is constantly harped on through what is it now, 9 books if you take away the one focusing on Mrs. Kincaid, was a bit much. And I think that's the problem. Reading about O'Reilly's past through several books was not that interesting. He served on a warship, he got married, he lost his wife, I don't think readers needed to be taken down every nook and cranny in the character's life.

We pretty much lost any other characters being discussed in depth in these books now. Mrs. Kincaid (now remarried) was barely in this book), Barry, Jenny, heck even most of the villagers are now tertiary characters in the saga of O'Reilly's life. And since we didn't really get a chance to know the character of Deirdre in the last book, we focus on her a lot in this book, and wow, this character read like a cardboard cutout of a perfect woman. Unlike with the character of Kitty, Deirdre never felt real to me in the last book or this one.

And the plot line which was thin at best, is pretty much the same as it is through the last several books. We always have a mysterious ailment that the Doctors try to figure out, usually it is an ailment attached to a character that the Doctors do not get along with. The character of Donal who always has a scheme that O'Reilly feels obliged to help out in, Barry going through issues in his relationships, O'Reilly trying to stick his nose in something and fix it, etc. These are all things that we have read before. There is nothing new here in the series, or nothing new that is going to keep me coming back for me.

The writing was clunky throughout the book. I think that was because we had Taylor throwing in references to O'Reilly reading about nuclear testing going on in Nevada, the Beatles, etc. The medical discussion about the rhesus monkey blood type put me to sleep, several times. I always thought the book had way too much in depth medical discussion back and forth between characters that dragged, but this one took the cake.

And once again the flow was horrible from beginning to end in this book from the flashbacks to O'Reilly's past and the present. We have O'Reilly and Kitty making that trip to Spain and it literally only took maybe 6 or 7 pages. I cannot believe this was a whole plotline in the last book for it to be dealt with this quickly in this book and for it to not even really matter at all.

The setting of Ballybucklebo never comes fully alive in this book. Probably because we were often in other places in O'Reilly's past in this book, and we would only have brief conversations with characters in the present.

The ending didn't have the same ring to it as previous books. I swear it felt like a mishmash of the previous books with a celebration always happening at the Doctors home with somehow the entire village able to be in their upstairs parlor. It's not very believable and I just sighed my way through it.

I just plan on re-reading the books from the series that I liked, and pretty much ignoring all new offerings.
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,206 reviews147 followers
November 14, 2022
“Three Messerschmitt 109 fighter bombers have burst through the smoke and are approaching our bow …”

, instalment #10 in Patrick Taylor’s wildly successful IRISH COUNTRY DOCTOR series, continues to fill in Fingal O’Reilly’s past as a young man and contrasts that past with his life as an aging professional in 1960s northern Ireland in the small town of Ballybuckleboo. Fans are treated to a heartwarming series of vignettes that portray O’Reilly’s private and professional life; his early career as a medical officer in the British navy; his sad and all too short marriage with his first wife and the tragic story of her death; and, the development of his personal philosophy as a doctor who cares about his patients and who is willing to take the risk of seeing his patients as real people. Like the television series M*A*S*H that portrayed the emergency “meatball” surgery of an American mobile hospital in the Korean War, it portrays the gruesome realities of impossibly stressful emergency surgery and medicine aboard a WW II battleship in the Mediterranean. On the 1960s side of the novel, Taylor offers a fascinating look into the mid-20th century development of medical science. He uses the example of the treatment of Rh- babies and the difficulties of explaining the development of the science to devoutly Catholic parents who don’t believe in evolution and are aghast at the thought of the blood being associated in any fashion with monkeys.

Despite the fact that the series can now be said to be getting long in the tooth, it has lost nothing of its charm or its ability to draw readers deep into the lives of all of its characters. If there was any criticism to be made (and I did have one rather weak one), it was that Taylor allowed himself to get just a little too saccharine and over-the-top in his expressions of romance and love between O’Reilly and his two wives. Maybe people that are so in love actually talk like that but it came across as forced and unrealistic in the actual reading.

Nonetheless, I look forward with continuing anticipation to #11, AN IRISH COUNTRY LOVE STORY.

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for Jean.
1,701 reviews736 followers
July 13, 2017
This book like the prior one in the series “An Irish Doctor in Peace and War” is full of flashback memories of World War II. In the prior book O’Reilly was entering anesthesiology training at the Royal Naval Hospital Hasler in Portsmouth. Deirdre meets O’Reilly in Portsmouth to get married. This book picks up as O’Reilly enters training.

In the current time, 1964, O’Reilly attends a medical school reunion and a former classmate is ill. Back in Ballybucklebo Barry is depressed because his fiancée, Sue, has bet a charming Frenchman while on teaching exchange.

The book is well written and is a “feel good” book. The story tells about life in a rural Northern Ireland village in the 1960s. The book is full of gentle humor and emotional stories taking place in the beautiful rural village. In the flashbacks Taylor tells of what life was like during World War II. I still enjoy the housekeeper/cook Kinky and her delightful cork accent and humor.

I have read the majority of books in this series as audiobooks. With all the various accents and Irish words, it is great to have a fantastic narrator, John Keating, able to performs them perfectly. Keating is an Irish actor and audiobook narrator. The book is just over eighteen and a half hours long.
Profile Image for Diana.
1,509 reviews86 followers
April 5, 2017
This is a flashback novel in the series. It gives you more background into Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reily and his life before he came to Ballybucklebo. I absolutely love this series and will be sad to see it eventually end. I have a wonderful time escaping to this small fictional town in Northern Ireland and spending time with the unique people who live there. I picked up the first one on a whim after seeing it in my local library and I have been hooked ever since. It reminds me a bit of the old "Doctor in the House books by Richard Gordon, though in set in a newer era.
Profile Image for Diana.
1,509 reviews86 followers
July 3, 2018
This book gives you more of the backstory for Dr. Fingal O'Reilly of Ballybucklebo, Ireland. This book switches between the present day and O'Reilly's time serving in the Royal Navy during World War II. The book is very sad at times when focusing on the war. I'm still really enjoying this series, and am not looking forward to when I catch up.
January 23, 2018
Second Read: I've enjoyed this read a lot more than I did the first time. The Story is still very long, but it was a lot more enjoyable. I'm a big Patrick Taylor Fan. He is a delightful writer, and give his characters a lot of fun personality. Been a long time since I've read one, and he has written a few more, so I have some catching up to do. I went to Ireland about 10 years ago, and without a doubt, it was my favorite all time vacation. Fingal and Diedra get married, and they discuss having children. It is God's Country....I would love to go back. Barry and his wife are still together. Their medical practice is in place and is very very important. They do very very well. As I read, the countryside reminds me of the areas where we were on our trip. We didn't go to the Ulster area, but we did Dublin, Waterford, and several of the Counties. Wow, how wonderful. Highly Recommend.

First Read: This is the 11th book in this series. It is really LONG. And swapping back and forth with Fingal and Diedra then forward that includes Barry, found it a little difficult to keep track of what is going on. This was not my favorite Patrick Taylor book. But as it is part of a series, one feels obligated to finish and the story needed to be told all the way through. I rated three stars because I like the new story lines being developed. I have high hopes for the future books. Just hope they come soon!
Profile Image for Liselle.
313 reviews4 followers
March 15, 2016
This is the 11th book in the series but they aren't getting old. This one is just as good as the early ones and I look forward to #12!
1,911 reviews10 followers
August 2, 2018
As readers rejoin Fingal O’Reilley and his wife Kitty, the couple are in Dublin attending the thirtieth reunion of their 1936 medical school class at Trinity College. As they prepare for the dinner, the location of the event brings back memories of the past and Fingal recalls times when he was a surgeon on the naval ship HMS Warspite during the war.

In this story, Patrick alternates two distinct time periods between the 1960s in Ballybucklebo and the early 1940s when he completed a three month stint at the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in Portsmouth. He had been given an opportunity to take a one month course in anesthesiology and extend that period to further his expertise in trauma surgery. During that time Fingal and his fiancée Deirdre Mawhinney married and experienced their first months of married life before she returned to Belfast and he returned to his ship. It was a period of brief happiness.

During his course Fingal worked under the Chief of Surgery Sergeant Commander George Fraser, an arrogant, over confident and talented surgeon who was technically expert but had no compassion for his patients. He was often brusque and abusive with his co-workers, had definite ideas about the treatment of his patients and did not tolerate anyone questioning his decisions. He and Fingal come to a disagreement about the care of two patients and Fingal was forced to take steps that could have landed him in serious trouble. But Fingal managed to find creative ways to handle these problems and helped Flip Dennison a downed pilot who suffered horrible facial burns and Alf Hansen a talented man who was headed for a naval career and dreamed of being a gunner.

Back to the sixties in Ballybucklebo, Fingal tries to help Ronald Fitzgerald a classmate who he noticed at the reunion was exhibiting worrying signs of a neurological disorder. But his offer is angrily refused as Fitzgerald accuses Fingal of intruding on his private life. Fitzgerald has never been an easy person and has no relatives or friends. Fingal and Kitty are worried about him.

Barry Laverty is presently in a deep funk. He has received several letters from his fiancée Sue Nolan who is on a teacher exchange in France improving her French. But in each letter she mentions Jean Claude Hamou, her new friend who has been showing her the sights and with whom she has been sharing gourmet meals and visiting café’s. Barry knows he should trust Sue but after his experience with Patricia Spence who went off to Cambridge and found another romance, he is wary.

Fingal’s friend John McNeil, the twenty-seventh Marquis of Buckleballybo is worried about his finances. He and his widowed sister Myrna have been poring over their expenses and are concerned about the future of the estate which will be subject to huge taxes when the Marquis dies. Fingal connects them with his brother Lars who begins to work with their solicitor and the National Trust to help them organize plans for the future and help them avoid crushing inheritance taxes.

During this time Fingal is faced with two cases of women who are pregnant but have complications and knows he cannot manage them alone. Irene Beggs has a uterine fibroid and Lorna Kearney a case of RH incompatibility. It irritates him that he must ask for outside help but it reminds him his clinical knowledge is becoming dated and he must do something about that very soon.

Jenny Bradley is engaged to be married and her future husband has been given a partnership in his law firm in Belfast. Jenny does not want to leave the practice in Ballybucklebo but it seems inevitable. Fingal interviews Dr. Nonie Stevenson as a replacement and she it appears she will fit in well. She passes Fingal’s test of liking roses and Labrador dogs although Barry has some reservations about her dislike of night call. He remembers as students that she could become bad tempered when she was tired. But the two partners decide to give her a three month probationary period to see how things work out.

And what would one of these books be like without Donal Donnelly and his latest scheme. Donal has paid for stud services for his racing greyhound Bluebird but is concerned that Mary Donleavy’s Chihuahua got to his dog first. If that proves to be the case there will be some strange looking puppies born and he has no idea how he will sell them. But Donal always finds a creative solution to every problem and this time solves the dilemma by deciding his new puppies are exotic Woolamarroo herding dogs.

The final chapters are heartbreaking as readers know from previous volumes how Fingal’s first marriage comes to an end. In the final pages, Fingal pulls up his car on Templemore Avenue and sobs, remembering his beloved Dierdre while the rain pours down around him. It was difficult to read and another reminder of the insanity of war.

Taylor has combined a number of real life as well as fictional parts in this story. He did extensive research to get the details of the battles right and readers get a harrowing picture of what it was like for medical staff dealing with the wounded while bombs fell, guns hammered, soldiers screamed in pain and the medical staff raced to help them, sometimes to no avail.

This book fills in much of Fingal O’Reilly’s past story about his work during World War II and his brief but ill-fated marriage to Deirdre. But I admit I am really missing Kinky and want to hear more about Barry and the last volumes have not focused much on them. Hopefully that will change with the next book.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,811 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2019
"Long before Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly came to look after the colourful Irish village of Ballybucklebo, young Surgeon Lieutenant O'Reilly answered the call of duty to serve his country during World War II. Fingal just wants to marry his beloved Deidre and live happily ever after, but first he must hone his skills at a British naval hospital before reporting to the HMS WSarsprite. There, as a ship's doctor, he faces danger and hardship on the high seas. With the Battle of Britain underway and German bombers a constant threat, the future has never been more uncertain, but Fingal and Deirdre are determined to make a life together ... no matter what tragedies may lie ahead.

"Decades later, the war is long over and O'Reilly is content to mend the bodies and souls of his patients in Ballybucklebo, but there are still changes and challenges aplenty. A difficult pregnancy, as well as an old colleague badly in denial concerning his own serious medical condition, test O'Reilly and his young partner, Barry Laverty. Their shared p0ractice undergoes an upheaval or two, and a crafty villager looks for a way to turn a profit from a little of highly unorthodox hunting dogs. Even with all that occupies him in the present, can O'Reilly ever truly let go of the ghost from his past?

"Shifting effortlessly between two singular eras, the author continues the story of Fingal O'Reilly's wartime experiences while vividly bringing the daily joys and struggles of Ballybucklebo to life once more."
~~front flap

This book was very heavily weighted towards Fingal's war experiences, as well it should be, given the flow of his life. But I skimmed most of that -- not being a big fan of war, either in reality or in books. And of course, the tragedy we've all been waiting for & fearing came at the very end of the book, with the accompanying tears.
Profile Image for writer....
1,286 reviews75 followers
June 30, 2020
A much enjoyed Canadian authored series of Irish characters and locations developing the various worlds unfolding for Dr Fingal Flaherty O'Reilly. WWII and the current storyline share the stage of this novel. Political, medical, and local issues of the day and their effects on the characters of the stories come to light. Food with recipes included in end notes as well as a dictionary of local terminology used in the series' books.
545 reviews4 followers
October 6, 2022
Yet again, Patrick taylor nails it with another installment in the Irish Country series.

We go back in time to when Fingal in servinging in the war on a ship. I loved seeing how he had to face some difficult situations while tending to patients on the ship.

I had a great time reading all about Fingal and his first wife, Deirdre. Their love story was really sweet. The end of their love was kind of sad.

Looking forward to reading book 11!
Profile Image for Diane Adams.
930 reviews6 followers
January 3, 2019
I do love this series, but I wasn't looking forward to this particular installment. Other books have hinted at what was coming, and I really didn't want to read about it! I was glad that it jumped back and forth between the war and the present--if it had only been about war, it would have been too sad altogether. Hoping that there's more happy times in the next book!
Profile Image for Kathryn.
840 reviews
February 18, 2019
3.5★ I did end up enjoying this, although I’m feeling like I’m a bit over hearing about Fingal O’Reilly’s wartime experiences - not that they aren’t interesting, but I actually really want more about life in Ballybucklebo and more about what’s going on in Barry Laverty’s life - as the Irish Country Doctor series started out. It first delved into Fingal O’Reilly’s past in A Dublin Student Doctor (and I REALLY enjoyed that book), but the bits set in the past in subsequent books haven’t intrigued me as much, and so I feel it’s wearing a little thin. So I’m hoping the next one, which I plan to read soon, is set firmly back in Ballybucklebo!
Profile Image for Kelly Is Brighid.
476 reviews13 followers
December 20, 2019
The most enjoyable in the series (thus far).
When your mind & soul need a “sorbet” between epic reads.
71 reviews
June 28, 2020
3 1/2. I am always anxious for the stories to hurry up. I have felt that every single book in the series is about twice as long as it needs to be, yet I persist.
Profile Image for Almira.
544 reviews2 followers
November 25, 2015
At first I wasn't really sure that I was going to enjoy this one, however, I finally came round and decided that it was just what the "doctor" ordered (sorry!)

We have known Fingal through so many books, and his love "Kitty" who is now his wife, however, there has been mention of his first wife, Deirdre, in most of the previous books, so with the "real" introduction of Deirdre I was sort of jealous for Kitty. As is the case in so many series, authors start at the "present" and then we have to go back to the "beginning" - sometimes it works, most of the time, I have found, it doesn't work. This is one of the "worked" times

Patrick did a very thorough job of integrating both of Fingal's wives, so that we now understand how he became the man and doctor that he is.

As in the past book, "An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War", Patrick has given background into actual events of WWII that he has used in both of these books. When I was reading the previous novel, the mention of the naval ship HMS Warspite was very well described, and what occurred during various battles - I then read the book "Franklin and Winston" (non-fiction about their relationship during WWII) and the Warspite was mentioned several times, so it was interesting to know to what Patrick wrote was pretty accurate. In reading this novel, I felt the same way - Patrick has taken great lengths to ensure that we "learn" something of what occurred during that "awful time of war".

Fingal and his friends of Ballybuckebo are just as enjoyable as they have been throughout the entire series. Once again, Kinky, his housekeeper/cook, has provided several of her recipes at the conclusion of this book.

I look forward to another book.

177 reviews
September 12, 2022
Another delightful book in this series. The story follows Dr O'Reilly as he settles into working with Dr Laverty and a new woman doctor. At the same time, the author flashes back to Dr O'Reilly's experience during the war when he marries and soon loses his first wife. Those flashbacks explain a lot about the doctor's life before he finds his old love and marries her. Look forward to book eleven.
Profile Image for Anna.
525 reviews11 followers
February 2, 2018
This book lived up to my expectations of it, carrying on from the previous one, (An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War)in a satisfactory way. We learned about Fingal’s further experiences during the war as a medic aboard a warship in the early part of WW2, as well as events in mid sixties Ballybucklebo, following his marriage to Kitty and that of his housekeeper Kinky. The historical aspect, i.e. the 1940 time period, interested me more of the two covered in the book. I enjoyed reading about Fingal’s learning experiences in the Naval Hospital in Gosport, where he’d been sent to hone his anesthesia skills. As a retired nurse I find it interesting to read the history of the practices in medicine and surgery, and how they came to be. I felt like I was taking a walk through a medical museum at times when the author described various instruments, equipment and procedures. I’ve loved that aspect of all of this series that I’ve read so far. I’m not sure a non medical person reading all the detail would be as enthralled as I was. I was also entertained by the familiar sounding accounts of the arrogant god-surgeon throwing his weight around, true to how many surgeons in my experience operated, literally.
Oddly enough, as I am not a fan of war or fighting of any kind, I also enjoyed reading about life aboard the Warspite in the heat of the battles it encountered in the Mediterranean. Again, I found it interesting and enlightening. All in all, an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Susan.
570 reviews
January 7, 2016
Patrick Taylor never disappoints, nor does John Keating on the audio books! Taylor seamlessly weaves his tales of the characters' pasts with the "present." He is a teacher as well as a wonderful story teller and I look forward to any future stories--always loving and warmly entertaining. He reviews enough of the series history and details to jog the old memory. This also had interesting background of the British navy in the Mediterranean and Africa. Always interesting to see how medicine has progressed through the years.
Profile Image for Alaine.
203 reviews4 followers
May 18, 2016
I fell in love with the characters of Ballybucklebo in the first installment of the Irish Doctor. I am always entertained by their exploits. The only reason I did not give this book 4 stars is the amount of naval/war information. For the first time I found myself skimming paragraphs. Although some may enjoy the information, it's just not my cup of tea. I highly anticipate the next "Irish Doctor" book.
505 reviews2 followers
May 5, 2016
I like this whole series though the titles are so similar I get confused as to whether I have read them or not. This contrasts O'Reilly's life during WWII as a Dr on a British naval ship and his first days as a newlywed with his later life as a GP in a tiny Irish village with his first love but second marriage. Read the earlier ones first.
Profile Image for Mary Boyd.
44 reviews
December 23, 2015
Love, love, love this series! Was so happy when I saw this latest book at the bookstore! It is as wonderful as the others! A must read for those who Dr. O'Reilly and all the other characters who reside in Ballybuckleboo!
895 reviews3 followers
December 24, 2015
I loved it. There were several times that I laughed so hard I had to hold my tummy. Patrick Taylor sure knows how to tell and Irish tale. And I love the Irish sayings and language.. Thank you Mr. Taylor.. Can't wait for the next episode.
Profile Image for Malani.
117 reviews7 followers
November 22, 2015
One of the best in the series. Taylor has done an excellent job with a tricky task.
Profile Image for Lisa.
30 reviews
December 8, 2015
I love this entire series. This one provides much back story that fills in Fingal's WWII time and relationship with first wife, Deirdre.
Profile Image for Erica.
371 reviews
August 11, 2017
I love this series. But this book felt like it was trying to do too much, like it was designed to tie up loose ends. Still enjoyable but not compelling.
Profile Image for Susan.
4,276 reviews92 followers
March 20, 2019
Another excellent installment in the series. This book picked up where An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War left off. As in the previous book, this one alternated between Fingal's past and his present. The "past" part of the book began with Fingal reporting to the naval hospital at Haslap for additional training in anesthesia and trauma surgery. He was looking forward to the next three months, as he and Dierdre planned to marry during this time. But there were unexpected obstacles to their plans.

I loved following Fingal through his time at Haslap. He learned a great deal medically, and also had the opportunity to experience different ways to deal with problems. The Fingal of the present has always been known as the Wily O'Reilly, but in this book, we got a glimpse of how he learned some of that wiliness. I love that Fingal considered all aspects of the patient important, not just their medical issues. There were several instances of him doing what was right for the whole patient, even when it got him in trouble with his superiors. I loved the Scottish doctor who was such a tremendous help and example to Fingal. I also appreciated the realistic look at wartime medicine and the challenges it created. The descriptions of Fingal's experiences both on shore and at sea were vivid, especially the feelings of witnessing the effects of the battles.

A big part of this section was the furthering of the relationship between Fingal and Deirdre. I loved seeing them snatch what time together they could, rejoicing in the simple things when they were together. I ached for them both when Fingal discovered that he had to have permission to marry even after attaining the next rank. It was fun to see that a case of "who you know" came to their rescue. It was sweet to see them settle into married life, all the time knowing that their separation loomed ever nearer. The poignancy of their letters to each other, once he returned to HMS Warspite, was incredible. How I cried when I finally found out what ended their marriage.

Back in the present day, life went on for Fingal and the village of Ballybucklebo. I loved seeing Fingal and his medical school classmates together for their class reunion. Their concern for one of those classmates was clear, especially when he resisted their attempts to help him. This was a man who was always standoffish, but Fingal and the others refused to give up on him. There were also a couple of problem pregnancies to deal with. One of the things I love best about Fingal is that he was never too proud to admit when he needed help. I loved seeing his determination to catch up on advances in medicine so that he could better serve his patients. Outside of medicine, Fingal still seems to be the glue that holds the village together. From bird counting with his brother to helping his friend John with a tricky problem, I loved seeing how various threads were connected. On a personal front, I loved seeing Fingal and Kitty deal with the ghosts of their pasts and move forward in their new lives together. Meanwhile, Barry missed his fiancée Sue, who was in France on a special educational trip. I ached for him as he worried about the effects of their separation on their relationship. Fingal's recent problem with similar feelings gave him the ability to provide some much-needed advice. Some lighter moments were provided by yet another of Donal Donnelly's schemes, this one involving a canine mésalliance and its results.
Profile Image for Duckpondwithoutducks.
539 reviews12 followers
August 18, 2019
Things I like about this series:
- The mid-century setting in Ireland, centered around a country doctor's practice
- The curmudgeonly main character

Things I didn't like about this particular book:
- The fact that the main character's personality seems watered down a bit now
- The way that every time a character says a word in another language, or quotes a Latin epithet, they immediately explain or translate the phrase. This is generally not what people do in real life. Many times people understand the reference and do not need an explanation. If they do need an explanation they ask. There is no need to write down to us - assume that we have a modicum of education. If there is a word we don't know, we can look it up.
- The medical info-dumping. I like tangentially learning about medicine through novels. That is something I enjoyed about the Call The Midwife books, and the All Creatures Great And Small books. But I don't want a novel to be a medical textbook. At one point in this book, one doctor asked the other to read him a letter about a medical thing, and the first doctor said that he would try to explain back what he was hearing to show that he understood. And then they did that. It feels condescending to me to dumb down the medical information, imagining that the layperson couldn't possibly understand otherwise. Just tell the story, and we will pick up what we pick up.
- The shifting back and forth between time periods. I like flashbacks or shifting perspectives when they affect the present day scenes or have some other emotional resonance. But it seemed like the wartime story and the story set in the 60s could have been separated into different books without affecting them at all.
- The episodic nature of the chapters. I just didn't feel too much plot in either of the stories, no major conflict, climax and resolution. The book might have been better as a series of short stories.

But hey. I'm probably going to read the next book in the series.
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