In many ways this is an easier and more entertaining read than Barrie's first book, which we reviewed last year, not least because it contains lots of anecdotes about things that happen to dentists (well, to this dentist anyway), which are all great fun. As the sub-title says, it is all about “curious people, comical happenings and crowns of glory”.
The book starts with childhood reminiscences of life in a small Norfolk village, with tales of large numbers of wild animals and insects, all being kept live in his bedroom, much to the dismay of his mother. It then progresses to his student days in London in the 1960s, Barrie being the first in his family to go to university, and his dentistry training at the London Hospital in Whitechapel.
This was clearly a life defining period for him, both educationally and in experience. Barrie worked hard and succeeded in his course when many didn’t, and he also partied well and got involved in several slightly crazy schemes (remember, this was the ‘swinging sixties’). But he also found the girl who was to become his first wife, and perhaps most importantly, came to a real and live faith in Jesus Christ - from atheist to ‘born-again’ Christian. (I must confess that this part of the story was the most fascinating for me, as I too was a student at that time; in fact my college was not far from Barrie’s in central London. It was certainly an exciting and life changing period.)
The story then goes on to outline his work as a young dentist in Shaftesbury, Dorset, and eventually to running his own and very flourishing practice in the centre of Norwich. Along the way he meets all sorts of interesting characters – from the couple who shared one set of false teeth, to the patient who leapt from the chair and ran down the road, with Barrie in hot pursuit.
However, this phase if his life was not always smooth. He had to come to terms with various financial and personal difficulties, and eventually ended up running a practice in a small Norfolk market town. But through all the ups and downs his faith sustained him, and it is clear that one of the reasons for his writing this book was to let others know what he has found through life in Christ. An entertaining and encouraging read.
Review by Alan Fisher
Barrie Lawrence is a writer and retired dentist who lives in Norfolk, but has close connections with Ipswich (his daughter and her family live here). Some time ago we published a review of his first book “There must be more to life than this”, which told of some of his life experiences and also set out his views on the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
“A Dentist’s Story” is published by Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd and can be obtained from Amazon,
price currently £8.27. Barrie can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org