“Those were the days when I was most grateful I was in country practice; the shirt sleeve days when the bleak menace of the bald heights melted into friendliness, when I felt at one with all the airy life and growth about me and was glad that I had become what I never thought I would be, a doctor of farm animals.” James Herriot
Read more about All Things Bright and Beautiful at Goodreads.
Author: James Herriot
This book could make the most hardened city dweller want to give up their cosmopolitan lifestyle and buy a farm in the countryside with a couple of pigs, sheep and a working dog called Jock. Of course, only if James Herriot is the local vet and the surrounding countryside are the heather-covered fells of North Yorkshire. Otherwise, his stories will do nicely.
All Things Bright and Beautiful is the second in a trilogy of memoirs about James Herriot’s life as a Scottish country vet in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a book with a sunny disposition full of short chapter stories, some happy, some sad but with laugh out loud moments never far away. If you ever need to know how to return a cow’s uterus to its rightful place, this is the book for you. You don’t need to love animals to enjoy this book, but it certainly helps.
Happy to say, it’s not all “soapy arm up the rear end”. Herriot introduces us to farmers and townsfolk, his crusty partner and fun-loving brother, and his good-humoured, long-suffering wife. (Herriot, sent on a shopping mission to furnish their new bedsit, returns home instead with a weighty, smelly and ancient set of The Geography of the World in Twenty Four Volumes.)
We traipse the fields, eat freshly baked cake in tiny farmhouse kitchens, chase ghosts through woodland and drink to excess in village pubs.
It was a tough life but Herriot was a patient, gentle and kind man with as much an understanding of the people he met as with the biology of the animals he treated. He sees farmers as “the salt of the earth” – hardworking, honest, pragmatic, frustrating but ever hopeful.
It’s slightly unfair that a talented and bright vet, full of empathy for man and beast, could also write so beautifully. His writing seems effortless, almost like he’s there sitting on the sofa next to you telling you his stories. I can see why they translated so well to the small screen. (I haven’t seen any of these yet. Have you? What did you think?)
I’ve put All Creatures Great and Small and All Things Wise and Wonderful on my birthday wish list. But I’ll read them differently. These are ‘dipping’ books. One or two chapters a night, just before sleep. And I’ll add James Herriot to my Agatha Christie’s….the perfect way to while away those pesky night time hours when sleep is elusive.