Welcome to the colourful Ulster village of Ballybucklebo, where two doctors work hand in hand to mend the bodies and spirits of the town's diverse and engaging inhabitants. But who is looking after the wounded hearts of the doctors?
After less than a year, young Barry Laverty, M.B., is settling in to the village, with only a few months to go before he becomes a full partner in the practice. He's looking forward to becoming a fixture in the community, until an unexpected romantic reversal gives him second thoughts. Will he truly be happy tending to routine coughs and colds for the rest of his career? After all, even when a more challenging case comes along, like a rare tropical disease, all he can do is pass it on to a qualified specialist or big-city hospital. As much as Barry enjoys the rough and tumble of life in County Down, is running a humble GP's shop all he wants out of life?
Barry's mentor, Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, is going through some personal upheavals as well. After mourning his deceased wife for decades, he's finally allowed a new woman into his life. But this budding courtship is not going over well with Kinky Kincaid, the doctors' redoubtable housekeeper, who fears having her position usurped by O'Reilly's new flame. Tact, diplomacy, and a fair amount of blarney may be required to restore peace to the household.
Meanwhile, life goes on in Ballybucklebo, presenting both doctors with plenty of distractions from their own troubles. From a mysterious outbreak at the local school to a complicated swindle involving an unlucky racehorse, the two partners will need all of their combined wit and compassion to put things right again--just in time for their lives to change forever.
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Taylor's fifth novel about the life of an Irish country doctor in Ballybucklebo, set on the cusp of 1965, is a warm, friendly tale about an idealized way of life. Dr. Fingal Flaherty O'Reilly, the local GP, tries to balance the needs of his patients with many personal demands. There's a rekindled love for Kitty O'Halloran; his housekeeper Kinky Kincaid's fears that she will no longer be needed; and the broken heart of his prot g , Barry Laverty, a young doctor torn between staying in a small town after the failure of his relationship and searching for something more. A subplot about corrupt, arrogant town councilor Bertie Bishop trying to cheat his employees out of their shares of a racehorse adds intrigue. An exquisite sense of place and Taylor's authentic medical experience help compensate for an undercurrent of outdated gender roles (housewives are happy; working women are not). Readers who adore novels set in rural Ireland (and fans of Jan Karon's U.S.-based Mitford books) will enjoy settling in again with Taylor.