Reviewed by Lisa Lickel
The Irish Healer by Nancy Herriman
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"Each character is fresh in voice; each setting well-laid; each scene a new and important piece of the puzzle. Those who enjoy period medical-laced historical romances will find much to love about this new author and her debut novel."
Although a debut novel, Herriman has racked up impressive recognition several years prior to publication, including the Daphne du Maurier award for best unpublished mystery/romantic suspense and runner up in the ACFW Genesis contest.
Rachel Dunne is a healer like her mother; in Ireland in the year of our Lord 1830. That often means hand-holding and praying as much as herbal remedies, light, air, and cleanliness. When Rachel stands trial for murder upon a child’s death, even acquittal won’t save her or her family’s reputation. Her escape to London is aided by a well-meaning cousin who vouches for her temporary position helping inventory a doctor’s home library. Being Irish, poor but refined, and lack of educational credentials limits Rachel’s choices of occupation. While she has vowed never to use her healing knowledge again, she is duty-bound to help the other household servants with their slight injuries and complaints – and the doctor when he faces an emergency situation.
The doctor, James Edmunds, is packing his home for a move out of London and the doctoring business. Struggling with a lifelong inability to please his father or his late wife, James lets the loss of any patient steal more of his soul. When his father dies, he is obligated to retire to the family estate. Doing a favor for a family friend by hiring her Irish cousin to help catalog his library seems a humane thing to do. He never counted on losing his heart in the process, or facing down his sister-in-law who maintains a powerful hold on him and his future.
A cholera epidemic showcases the worst side of life in the slums, doctors and townsfolk alike, with little pity or remorse, the hospitals of death, and the horrific disease that has no mercy on the healthy, wealthy, or any age. Rachel and James face many challenges, the least of which is their growing admiration and love. Both struggle to regain a once-beloved faith in the Great Physician, mend the effects of their pride, and make the right decisions to help their families.
Told with faithful period detail, the author never goes overboard in description.
Rachel is torn in so many directions and given a heart that cannot help
but reach out to those in distress, no matter how much they malign her.
James is a man of dignity in a social class for which he has little use
and a gift for medicine he cannot deny. Herriman never hides the ugliness
of the era in living condition or morals, yet allows the beauty of human
kindness to shine. Each character is fresh in voice; each setting well-laid;
each scene a new and important piece of the puzzle. Those who enjoy period
medical-laced historical romances will find much to love about this new
author and her debut novel.
Lisa Lickel lives in Wisconsin with her high school teacher husband in a 150-year-old Great Lakes ship captain's house. She is active in more than one historical society, belongs to writing and reading clubs and is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin, the magazine of Wisconsin Regional Writers. A graduate of the Christian Writer's Guild, she has written newspaper features and magazine articles, radio theater, and authored several inspirational novels. Find her online at http://lisalickel.com, http://wisconsinauthorreview.blogspot.com, http://reflectionsinhindsight.wordpress.com, and Facebook.