Out of Practice, the big-hearted and outrageously entertaining tale of married mother-of-two GP Holly Graham who joins a bustling doctors’ practice in a pretty Cotswold village, was a runaway success last year, winning an army of adoring fans and a fistful of accolades.
And now Penny Parkes, who draws on her past experience organising shoots for film, TV and advertising, is back to enchant her readers with more rivalries, romance and real-life medical dramas in the second of her delightful Larkford books.
And the good news is that you don’t need to have travelled with Dr Holly through her first months at the village practice to enjoy all the angst, intrigue and antics of the bustling medical centre… these lively, friendly and reassuring stories are just as much fun when read as standalones.
The Practice at Larkford has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight and its nomination as an ‘NHS Model Surgery’ is causing the team major headaches.
Dr Holly Graham should be basking in working in one of her favourite places in the world, and the glow of her new romance with fellow doctor Taffy Jones but she is worried that the surgery is prioritising plaudits over patients, and her favourite resident and feisty octogenarian, Elsie Townsend, is facing a difficult diagnosis.
Add to that the chaos of family life with her four-year-old twin sons Ben and Tom – plus a persistent ex-husband – and the strain is starting to show.
Meanwhile, Dr ‘Dishy’ Dan Carter’s obsession with work is masking unhappiness elsewhere… he can’t persuade girlfriend Julia Channing, another doctor in the practice, to settle down. It’s only when Julia’s demanding mother Candace comes to stay that he realises what she has been hiding for so long.
The Practice also has a newcomer… Dr Alice Walker joins the team like a breath of fresh air and her medical assistance dog Coco quickly wins everyone round, which is just as well because Coco and Alice will soon need some help of their own. Can they all pull together and become the Dream Team that the NHS obviously thinks they are?
Practice Makes Perfect is a captivating new chapter in life at The Practice as we meet up again with the indomitable Elsie and other much-loved familiar faces, and say hello to some captivating newcomers, not least the adorable Coco who is guaranteed to inspire her own personal fan club!
Born storyteller Parkes serves up laughter, drama and tears in equal measures, with all the action set against the beguiling backdrop of a charming Cotswold village, complete with its mellow stone houses, sparkling river and truly captivating residents.
So turn up the heat this summer and indulge your heart, your mind and your senses in the warm, witty, wise and wonderful world of Larkford.
(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £7.99)