by James Herriot
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL will warm the cockles of your heart. Published in 1972, and written by James Alfred Wight under the pen name James Herriot, it is actually the combination of two of his books, If Only They Could Talk and It Shouldn’t Happen To a Vet. ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL is the first in a series of “creature” books by James Herriot and was so immediately successful it spawned a film by The Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1975 and a BBC television series that began in 1977.
In 1939 Herriot (Wight) graduated from veterinary medical school and set about on his life’s work, attending to animals of all sizes and shapes in the homes, farms, and fields of Yorkshire, England.
The book is basically short stories, chronologically ordered in chapters, each one a different bite of life as a country vet, before antibiotics and many other niceties that are commonplace today. From delivering lambs on freezing windswept hills, to trying to control a massive bull, to attending to an overweight terrier in a plush living room, the tales never get tiresome or repetitive.
Herriot takes us to a different world in this book, bringing to the reader joy and sorrow and laughter and tears, as he recounts those days with humility and a genuine love for the animals he treats. But his writing is not confined to only the creatures. He also has a great deal of affection for the people he encounters, giving us a peek into the lives of that hardy group, their courage, their habits, their foibles, and their heart. It is the melding of the two, the creatures and their caretakers, that gives this book its magic.
So, come on. Put on your “Wellies”, grab your canvas coat, pick up the med box, and join James in the dales and dells of Yorkshire amid the creatures great and small.
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