Top positive review
I laugh just as hard when I read these books as when I first read then decades ago!
Reviewed in the United States on January 15, 2019
Hard to believe that it was almost 50 years ago when I started reading these books. I loved them as a young woman and even more as an old lady. And yet I know nothing about farming or the problems of being a rural vet and I've never been to Yorkshire in my life. What is it about these books that gives them such universal appeal?
I think the key is that Alf Wight (who adopted the name James Herriot in the vain hope of remaining anonymous) was a truly modest man. Lacking the kind of ego that would have kept his thoughts focused on himself, he was free to concentrate on others. And he never tried to present himself as a heroic figure. When he relates a situation in which he looked like a first-class fool, he tells it with gleeful gusto. He lived an interesting, varied life, but he always saw himself as a simple country vet doing the best he could for his clients and neighbors.
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL introduces the reader to the very young, very unsure Scotsman, just graduated from college and transported to the strange (to him) world of the Yorkshire Dales. We see him as he moves in with the eccentric Farnon brothers and deals with their vagaries. We follow him as he begins to develop a bit of confidence in his skills and learns to love the people he's serving. Some of them, anyway. There are cranks and no-goods in any community and he never hesitated to include them in his stories.
His romance with beautiful Helen Alderson and their marriage is woven into his story seamlessly as it should be. Successful marriages start when two people fit into each others's lives. His new wife accepted his commitment to his patients and the disruptions it would cause in their private lives. They were WWII generation young folks and they expected to work and sacrifice.
ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL sees his life as a young married man and the birth of his children. ALL THINGS WISE AND WONDERFUL continues the story of the young family, with more tales of farmers and townsfolk.
The author was a man who believed in seeing the best in people. His only stipulation was that they care about their animals. He was as happy treating the aged dog of an old man who couldn't pay as he was being served breakfast by a nobleman. Probably no profession other than a policeman sees a wider variety of people than a vet. And, like cops, vets see us when our defenses are down.
These are wonderful books. If you are new to them, congratulations. If you're renewing an acquaintance with old friends, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Alf Wight is long since with the Angels, but his books continue to make people laugh and cry. What an enviable heritage!