*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to the author, Duckworth Books and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Have you ever had to decide what to do with an unidentified corpse by a Devonian cowshed when the herd is due in for milking? And how would you react if one of your patients was abducted by aliens?
If you are a GP it seems these are routine matters. From coping with the suicide of a colleague to the unusual whereabouts of a jar of Coleman’s mustard, this is the story of one rural doctor’s often misguided attempts to make sense of the career in which he has unwittingly found himself.
Dr Sparrow’s adventures would be utterly unbelievable were they not 100% true stories. His bedside manner may sometimes leave a little to be desired but, if you’re in dire straits, this doctor will have you in stitches.
As the author himself points out, these are not the gentle tales of a certain Darrowby vet, so anyone expecting soft, self-deprecating humour is in for a bit of a rude awakening!
Michael Sparrow fills us in on anecdotes from his training and his various work placements in hospitals, the army and as a GP, and does so with the sharp, black humour of someone who has seen far too much tragedy and human suffering.
The reader gets insight into a world of alcohol and drug abuse, negligence, murder and downright stupidity… and that’s just the doctors! But Dr Sparrow is by no means bringing the profession into disrepute – instead he shows us the toll paid via their own physical and mental health by the caring professions, simply because they do care. The author actually doesn’t come across very well at the start of the book, as he portrays himself as an unwinning combination of cocky and dim, and the humour feels somewhat forced and brash. However, once you get used to the tongue-in-cheek, side-eye style of writing, you come to appreciate his candour and his willingness to sacrifice his pride for the sake of a good story.
Most winning of all, as the book progresses each story is increasingly invested with a light-hearted, wry humour that carries the reader through the book as buoyantly as it must have carried the author through his medical career. There is no wallowing in the horrors and tragedies; no bemoaning the fate of modern medicine and belittling contemporary colleagues. Instead there is a Pythonesque insistence on seeing the funny side to every disaster or mishap, and on seeing the silver lining of redeeming qualities in even the dourest doctor or dullest student.
Which is lucky really, as if you took these stories at face value, you would hesitate to ever set foot in a hospital or surgery again! At which point I suppose all the staff could repair to the pub early and… hmmm, I think I’ve seen through Dr Sparrow’s cunning plan! 😉
In our clinical years, should we survive that far – and by no means everyone does – we get to touch the public, although mostly in places we would each rather we didn’t have to.
– Michael Sparrow, Country Doctor
You can follow Michael Sparrow on Goodreads, and Country Doctor is available on Amazon right now!