I love books that I can put down for a while and then pick up again without guilt. James Herriot’s first book in his memoir series as a country vet in England is one such book. Each chapter is like a small short story in itself, chronicling his early years as a new veterinarian in a small farm town.
Because my husband and I have had some very busy months lately, it was nice to have a book at the ready that I could immerse myself in or, if necessary, abandon for weeks on end, without feel like I was leaving a juicy story behind.
Around the years surrounding WWII, James Herriot was new to his profession, sharing an office with his mentor, Sigfried. Sigfried’s younger brother, Tristan, a skilled veterinary student with a wicked sense of humor, also worked there. Having 3 people with different levels of experience approaching the interesting animal cases and eccentric cast of characters in the town make for some pretty interesting stories. Dog, cats, cows, pigs, horses, you will read about them all. Most stories ended happily, but some do not. All add to James’ hands-on education.
Parallel to his adventures in the office and visiting various local farms is James courting his future wife, Helen. The chapter about the large collection of books he buys at a flea market and must, somehow, get home in order to impress Helen is especially hilarious.
There is nothing controversial or offensive in any of his stories. Just interesting, colorful anecdotes of a simpler time when hard work and appreciating the land took precedent over technology and greed.
It isn’t difficult to see why James Herriot’s stories have made a lasting impression on readers for decades. They are truly delightful.
9 out of 10 stars