Think of James Herriot but set in rural Ireland instead of Yorkshire, and where the patients are human instead of the four-legged kind, and you’ll have a good understanding for the atmosphere of Patrick Taylor’s books. An author who grew up in Ulster and spent many years in Canada, Taylor draws upon his own experiences as a doctor in Northern Ireland in the 1960’s as his inspiration, although the Ireland he depicts is admittedly a rosier one than actually existed in those violent times. This third novel revolves around the Yuletide season so it is rosier still, but it is not overly sentimental. Sprinkled liberally with references to current events of the time (including the adoption of a certain maple-leaf flag), we follow the young Doctor Barry Laverty as he is about to spend his first Christmas in Ballybucklebo with his mentor, Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly. As Dr. Laverty hopes that his girlfriend Patricia will make it home for Christmas, Dr. O’Reilly finds himself finally letting go of the torch he has carried for his young bride, killed in the WWII blitz of Belfast. Together they take keep an eye on the competition - a new doctor in town who went to school with O’Reilly – take care of the villagers’ usual and unique ailments, and even work a few old fashioned Christmas miracles. Cozy up to the bar at Black Swan pub in Ballybucklebo, and get to know these charming townspeople and their respected physicians in this entirely enjoyable story.
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In the Stratford Gazette on December 5, 2008


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