I’ve always enjoyed watching those British serials on PBS about small town life like Cranford
and Last of the Summer Wine
. And when I saw An Irish Country Courtship
, advertised on Goodreads giveaways, I expected to find the book as something just as fun and pleasurable—a doctor story mixed with small town humor, gossip, mischief and matchmaking. However upon reading it, I must say that I wasn’t very impressed.
I just felt that that book was missing something. What I always found so entertaining about those British serials are the crusty characters like Compo and Howard in Last of the Summer Wine
and Twister in Lark Rise to Candleford
who’re always getting into various scrapes and all kinds of mischief. It’s just fun to watch them. Unfortunately none of the characters in An Irish Country Courtship
fall into that category. Because of that, the book lacks that certain spice those characters bring to the story. The book has quite a number of supporting characters, which for the most part are relegated to the background and don’t really contribute much to the story. But to be fair, this book is part of a series, and perhaps these characters are better developed in the earlier books.
Also I believe that An Irish Country Courtship
is a bit of a misnomer, as the story is focused more on personal crises than courtship. Dr. Barry Laverty spends most of the book mourning the loss of his girlfriend Patricia who has broken off their relationship. This begins Barry’s internal crisis of identity: Is he really fit to be practicing as a GP in a small town or as Patricia suggested, is he just wasting away possible opportunities life may yet have in store for him? Then there’s Dr. Fingal O’Reilly’s emotional crisis. For the past “twenty years” he’s been mourning the loss of his wife of “six months” who was killed during the Blitz. And only now is he beginning to consider moving on and possibly engage in a relationship with Kitty, a nurse who works with him. But is he sullying the memory of his dead wife by thinking of Kitty? The reasoning is rather silly. But even so, there’s really not that much courtship there either, as Kitty leaves town for about 100 pages or so, giving Fingal the time to sort out his feelings.
On the whole, the story’s OK, but I did expect more.