Book Reviews: All Creatures Great and Small

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All Creatures Great and Small
by James Herriot

When I was young I wanted to be an author and a vet when I grew up. Knowing this, my parents introduced me to the writing of James Herriot, who was both. Later I decided that having to fiddle with animal innards everyday is not the same as owning pets and I veered more towards the writing side of my ambitions, but it never affected my love for Herriot’s writing. I’d already read his collections, Dog Stories, Animal Stories and Cat Stories and some of the tales in those volumes are drawn from this book. But they’re such sweet tales that it was a pleasure to re-read them.

This memoir, the first in the series, introduces us to James Herriot, a Scottish vet working in rural England in the first half of the 20th century. His writing has a wonderful warm feeling. He can find the humor in any situation, while at the same time understanding the seriousness of others. He manages to portray the bittersweet nature of his job with an admirable sincerity, never deriding his clients’ love of their animals and treating each case with the utmost importance.

I love reading Herriot’s funny stories about his early days as a vet. Each one is told with a dry British sense of humor. Some of them are a bit too detailed (talking about the animal procedures) and make me squeamish, but that’s to be expected and it’s always relevant info. His descriptions of the stoic farmers and eccentric partners are a constant source of amusement throughout the book. I found myself wishing that the book wouldn’t end, which is a rare thing.


Yvonne said...

Great review on a great series of books. I read them for the first time years and years ago. I kept them and periodically pick them up. I enjoy them just as much each time I read them.

Stephanie said...

Iread these books in high school and loved them. They have a certain charm. :-)

Becky Hill said...

I have read these books many times over and have loved them so much! Please continue reading the entire series of books that he has.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Yvonne/Stephanie - I love books that hold up even when you read them years later. That's the sign of a truly wonderful book.

Becky - I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Allie said...

I read all of these back in middle school and loved them. I don't know where my copies are, but I remember them being well-loved.

Vaishnavi said...

That's a nice succinct review! I love Herriot and I don't mind getting reacquainted with his books every so often!

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

I read these in high school too. I loved them so much!