All Things Bright and Beautiful

Author: James Herriot

Despite the rumblings of the upcoming second World War in the distance, Jim Herriot enjoys a few sweet, timeless years before being called into the RAF. He has just married one of the best women in all of Yorkshire and has been accepted as a full partner by his former boss, the veterinarian Siegfried Farnon. During these years, he builds his own veterinary practice, interacting with all the unusual folk of the Dales. Which isn’t to say his life is all roses–veterinary medicine at that time was extremely limited, and the Dales folk are not easy to impress. And of course, animals are unpredictable at best. All told, the results aren’t always in Jim’s favor . . . but they’re quite likely to be amusing.

Along with his first book, All Creatures Great and Small, this memoir of James Herriot’s early days of veterinary work is a story I treasure and re-read frequently. It has a great balance of heart-warming-ness and good plain hilarity. Herriot’s descriptions of the Dales people and their animals is priceless–highly observant and invested, yet also invested with a good dose of self-deprecating humor. It might be a bit crude in parts, but I think on the whole, this book is written in old-fashioned good taste–but in a way that’s not boring in the least. Actually, this tends to be a book I have to read when alone as it prompts audible laughter. In addition to the wholesome storytelling itself, I really love Herriot’s descriptions of the Yorkshire Dales themselves–that wild, beautiful country–and of the challenges (and victories) facing veterinarians in the early 1940’s. I would definitely recommend All Things Bright and Beautiful, especially to those who like animal stories or memoirs (although I think these stories would be fun even if you don’t usually prefer memoirs).

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