In 1965, Dr Fingal Flaherty O’Reilly is traveling in his car with nurse Kitty when they come across a road accident and stop to help. The incident leads to reminiscing about his final years of medical training in Dublin hospitals in the 1930s.

Fingal has just returned from a stint in the navy. His student cohort includes a steady chum, a respected, brilliant woman, and a narcissistic pest–-all rather familiar tropes, comfortably portrayed. A picture of a hospital-based education emerges through teachers both kindly and rigid, a crusty head nurse who turns out to be a good soul, and a lovely student nurse, Kitty. Fingal’s professorial father disapproves of his son’s choice of a medical career and on his infrequent visits home, their relationship is tense.

Attractive to medical student readers are the clinical stories, the diagnostic dilemmas, and the stress of examinations. Social factors, such as poverty, unemployment, and discrimination, are intimately connected to the health of Fingal’s patients both as causes and results. His concern for his patients and those aspects of their lives earn him the respect of the head nurse and her student

This story set in two time periods is partly a prequel to some of Taylor’s other tales, such as An Irish Country Doctor.


One in a rapidly growing series of popular medical novels about Ireland at a moment just before the late-twentieth-century troubles came to alter that way of life.

The multiple allusions to physical signs will satisfy residents and medical students alike, as they can happily predict the diagnoses before they are revealed. They might also enjoy the “newness” and complexities of various tests for infectious diseases that could not be treated with antibiotics because they did not yet exist.

The Irish-born author has had a full career as a practitioner and researcher in reproductive medicine; he now lives in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. He writes with sympathy for the foibles of humanity and nostalgia, affection, and tenderness for his original home. He denies any autobiographical similarity between his protagonist, Fingal, and himself—after all he was not yet born in 1934. But readers may view that claim as suspicious.  



Place Published

New York



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