Patrick Taylor,
An Irish Country Courtship
(Forge, 2010)

While An Irish Country Courtship is the fifth installment of the An Irish Country _____ series by Patrick Taylor, it is very accessible to a new reader. That accessibility is as far-reaching as it can be, because a reader is bound to feel like they've read this type of story before. That's not meant as a negative so much as foreshadowing. The elements of the story have a familiarity about them that may actually be inviting to the intended audience.

Image a picturesque Irish village named Ballybucklebo, close enough to a big city for convenience but removed enough so an independent identity remains. In this small town, there's a young doctor looking to establish himself, both career-wise and domestically. He rents a room from his boss/mentor, a wise and sweet old widower. Part and parcel of this household is a fiesty housekeeper (called Kinky Kincaid -- a catchy use of consonance). Included among the townspeople are a kind-hearted but dim-witted farmer, a beautiful wife who doesn't yet know her own beauty, a greedy money-grubbing politician, etc. Add in a heartbreak on one side and a budding love interest on the other, and the story starts on a somewhat predictable path.

Taylor has fleshed out a colorful cast of characters with vibrant and distinctive personalities. Most of the characters fall into the typical "small town" collection of personalities that are often found in ... well, pretty much any fiction taking place in small towns. The main things that vary are the focal character(s) and the setting/atmosphere.

So it may not be the first story to cut characters from the quaint-little-village mold, but it doesn't make the story any less enjoyable. It's not originality that makes An Irish Country Courtship work, it's the charm doled out by Patrick Taylor. He sells the rural Irish setting with as much appeal as an inviting travel brochure or cinematic romantic comedy.

This is a pleasant book, but don't expect any kind of challenges or overreaching themes. Just as not every meal should be a feast, not every book needs to have depth or complexity. If you are looking for a nice, easy read that will let you escape your own troubles, this is the perfect book for you.

book review by
C. Nathan Coyle

8 December 2012

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