Tuesday, February 2, 2010

(10)An Irish Country Girl by Patrick Taylor

If you have known me or read this blog for more than five minutes, you are probably well aware of my infatuation with all things Irish. When I got the email with an offer to review Patrick Taylor's new book, An Irish Country Girl and possibly even get to interview him, well, I nearly broke a finger trying to hit the reply button.

I will admit that I have not read the other books in the Irish Country Doctors series. I own them, but they are buried in my TBR pile. Soon to see the light of day, now that I have had a chance to wander through the enchanting world that Mr Taylor creates with his words.

In An Irish Country Girl, I am introduced to Maureen "Kinky" Kincaid. All I know of her as I start reading is that she is the beloved housekeeper for the good doctors of Ballybucklebo (say it out loud! I dare you! It is impossible to say Ballybucklebo without an Irish brogue!) . When we first meet the Irish Country Girl, it is Christmas Day and she is telling a tale to the children of the village who have converged on the good doctor's home.

She takes us back to her childhood in County Cook nearly 40 years ago to the day. Kinky spins an enchanting tale of Faeries and Vixens and what happens if you dare to ignore the spirits that rule the forests of County Cook. After her tale has been told & she has thoroughly captivated the children of Balleybucklebo and sent them on their way, she continues to reminisce about life all those years ago. She reminisces about her loves and her losses, her hopes and her dreams. With a gentle voice and a loving heart we get to "meet" her family and join them as they rejoice the good times and mourn the bad ones. We truly get to peek into the person that is Kinky Kincaid.

You need not worry if you have not read An Irish Country Village or the others, though you will certainly want to after reading Kinky's story. Patrick Taylor will enchant you with his tales of Ireland, you will not be able to resist the good people of Balleybucklebo.

With that said, let me introduce you to the author, Mr Patrick Taylor.

1. Can you tell us a little a bit about yourself and what led you to writing about the good people of Ballybucklebo?

Me? I have always written. I am Irish.I trained as a medical research worker and so writing was integral to my wok. About 15 years ago I was asked to contribute a humour column to a medical journal. Based on some of my experiences as a trainee physician I developed Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly. In 1997 I had a serious collection of short stories published. This was followed by two techno-thrillers about the Ulster Troubles. I tried to persuade my editor to bind and publish my humour columns, No, she said, go away and write me a novel about these character. So I did--and am now working on book 6 in the series. You can learn more about me at www.patricktaylor.ca

2. For someone who has not read about the Good Doctor's, what do you think is the most important thing your new readers need to know about them and the people of Ballybucklebo?

Ballybucklebo is an imaginary Ulster village in 1964-5 populated by imaginary people who it seems judging by my fan mail come to life to my readrers. The central figures are Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, 56, crusy, widowed, eccentric--and a damn fine doctor and his fresh from medical school assisstant 24 year old Doctor Barry Laverty. Their lives are ordered by their housekeeper from County Cork. Mr, Kincaid and the village is populated by characters lke Maggie McCorkle who has headaches--two inches above the crown of her head. The books are I hope light, escapist fun.

3. Why tell Kinky's story? Is there anyone else in Ballybucklebo with a story waiting to be told?

Maureen Kinky Kincaid is, I hope an interesting character, and she is fey, that is has second sight--what Steven King might call The Shining. How did she get that way? That was how I started writing Country Girl. I wanted to set a tale in County Cork in the 20s and with a bit of writer's arrogance wanted to try to prove I wasn't a one trick pony only able to write on material based on my medical background.

Any one else? Book 5 now finished, Country Courtship is back in Ballybucklebo, but book 6 that I am presently working on is Fingal O'Reilly's story of being a medical student in Dublin in the 30s. I haven't decided yet whether to tell about his service on a Battleship in WWII

4. Maureen is very fond of Irish History. What you think is the most important thing "Yanks" should know about Irish History?

That it goes back a very long way and even us Irish don't fully undrstand it. That it is not a clear black and white Catholic v Protestant, Irish v English conflict and to paint it thus is naive and for Irish Americans to keep those old emnities alive is counterproductive. What is needed is reconciliation and reconstruction.

5. The O'Hanlon family is rich with tradition, specifically around the Feast of St. Stephen. What traditions do your family have for the holidays?

You'll find all about it in book 3 An Irish Country Christmas, but I am afraid we have broken with tradition and now spend Christmas in the sun here in Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

6. For someone, such as myself, who is completely enchanted by Irish history & culture, can you recommend some books or authors that would help me further my education?

Most of my extensive library is in Ireland, but Try The Great Shame, Thomas Kennealy (who wrote Schindler's List)It's about the Irish diaspora. The Great Hunger (An Gorta Mor) by Cecil Woodham-Smith about the potato famine, Trinity by Leon Uris, You'll find a reference to a collection of folk lore Edited by Lady Gregory in the author's note in Girl. Morgaan Llewellyn writes very good Irish historical fiction.

7. Mr. Taylor, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

It's been my pleasure. I hope your readers will enjoy my work


Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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