Dr Edward Rider is the new doctor in Carlingford, living in an unattractive district still under construction. He is unhappy and ashamed of himself, having let down the girl he wanted to marry for "practical" reasons. And for the past five months Dr Rider's alcoholic brother Fred has been an unpleasant, unwelcome guest, polluting his house with the smells of smoke and brandy.
Just when surely things could not get worse, there is a staggering complication, connected to the brother; but this event does lead to the doctor meeting Nettie, a dainty little autocrat with beautiful eyes, who takes charge in the most wonderful way. Nettie has heavy responsibilities, and is determined not to fall in love. Will they fall in love anyway? Will Dr Rider make the same mistake a second time?
The Doctor's Family is the third of seven works set in the delightful country town of Carlingford. Although each work can stand alone, one episode in the first story, The Executor, does provide some background to this novel.
Biographical and other notes
The portrait of Dr Rider's brother was probably inspired by Mrs Oliphant's brother Willie, who was an alcoholic.
Fyi, first editions of this novel and of The Rector refer to the character Mr Wentworth as "Cecil Wentworth". Mrs Oliphant modified his first name in The Perpetual Curate to Frank, explaining that Cecil was his middle name!
British publishing information
Periodical: Blackwood's Magazine Oct 1861-Jan 1862
First edition: William Blackwood and Sons (in The Rector, and The Doctor's Family) 1863