Goodreads: All Creatures Great and Small
Series: All Creatures Great and Small #1
Age Category: Adult
Fresh out of college, James Herriot arrives in Yorkshire, England to act as assistant to the local veterinarian. He quickly finds practicing medicine vastly different from what he had expected. The job requires him to labor at all hours of the night and day, often in bad weather, and healing animals proves difficult, dirty, and sometimes dangerous. Even so, Herriot grows to love the countryside, its inhabitants, and his work. In All Creatures Great and Small, he gives vignettes of life as a country vet, chronicling his defeats, his triumphs, and his never-ending wonder at the miracle of life.
After enjoying the first two seasons of PBS’ TV series All Creatures Great and Small, I knew I had to return to James Herriot’s original book–which I had first read over ten years ago! Herriot brings such warmth and humor to his memories of vet practice in the 1930s, that even the difficulties of his profession seem minor when compared to the joy it brings both him and the people (and animals) he helps. Reading his stories feels like tucking into bed with a warm cup of cocoa on a fall evening–cozy, comforting, and altogether perfect!
Part of the delight of the stories stems from how the past and the present intertwine. Herriot gives many fascinating glimpses into a way of life that was fading even at the time of his writing–farms were changing, veterinary medicine was making advances that would make his old medicines and techniques seem charmingly quaint. But much of what Herriot experienced still feels relevant today–the eccentricities of a boss who would give conflicting instructions and make his employee out to be wrong either way, the struggle for a young professional (and outsider) to find acceptance in the community, the chance at finding love. Times may have changed, but Herriot’s struggles and triumphs are still relatable.
And he relates all of it with a gentle humor that shows just how much he loved his life, the Dales, and the people he met. Even when he has stories of dishonest, rude, and overbearing customers, Herriot always makes himself the target of the joke, the hapless young vet at the mercy of the public. He relates his stories with such fondness, it seems impossible for readers not to fall in love with the Dales and its way of life, too.
Fortunately, this is only one book of many stories that Herriot write based on his life as a country vet. So readers who enjoy this volume have many more heartwarming stories to look forward to!