These are some short stories about Dr Finlay, although they are mostly set in the industrial port of Levenford; Tannochbrae being a small village nearby. The stories are set in the pre-National Health days when you had to pay for the Doctor's consultation; one of the stories features the new and controversial diagnosis of Appendicitis and a number of the treatments involve little more than good food and bed rest. As a social document, the stories are interesting.
But I couldn't stand Dr Finlay. Not only is he a goody goody but he is as omniscient as God and as prone to performing miracles. Almost every story revolves around the way the wicked and naughty characters he encounters are brought back to the straight and narrow by this interfering and meddlesome healer who is able to do far more for their souls than for their bodies. He is a paragon of virtue and thoroughly dislikeable.
The stories themselves are very short, very simple moral fables. In this brief format, Cronin has little opportunity to develop character and most of those we encounter are thoroughly two-dimensional, selected for the role they will play in the plot, which is mostly to allow Finlay to redeem them.
A definite whiff of medical romance stories.
Other A J Cronin books in this blog:
- The Keys of the Kingdom which is a full length novel with a real, complex character and is sooooooo much better than these short stories.
- Hatter's Castle: about the fall of a prideful bully
- The Citadel a novel about an idealistic voung doctor who goes astray
August 2015; 158 pages