The Wonderful World of James Herriot – will delight fans both old and new – book review –

Who can resist the rural charms and wry comedy of James Herriot’s much-loved books which have delighted readers for generations and been adapted for both film and television?

The Wonderful World of James Herriot
The Wonderful World of James Herriot

Born in 1916, Herriot was the pen name of James Alfred ‘Alf’ Wight, an English vet whose tales of veterinary practice and country life in Yorkshire – including All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, and Every Living Thing – became international bestsellers.

The perfect gift for fans of the TV hit All Creatures Great and Small, The Wonderful World of James Herriot is a charming collection of classic stories from Herriot’s books with insights into his life and work from his children, Rosie Page and Jim Wight.

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Herriot grew up in Glasgow but after qualifying as a veterinary surgeon, he took up a position as an assistant in a North Yorkshire practice where he remained, with the exception of his wartime service in the RAF, until his death in 1995.

He wrote many books about Yorkshire country life, including some for children but he is best known for his memoirs which began with If Only They Could Talk. And this charming collection is filled with the astute observations and boundless humour which helped Herriot capture the spirit of the Yorkshire Dales.

His working years saw rural communities on the cusp of change, before tractors and machines had taken over and modern medicines and antibiotics transformed veterinary work. And along the way, a beloved cast of characters emerges, from the squabbling veterinary brothers Tristan and Siegfried to Herriot’s hapless courtship and eventual family life with Helen Anderson.

But it’s the animals which are at the heart of Herriot’s stories. Whether he’s dodging a raging bull on a risky artificial insemination assignment, becoming pen pals with Tricki Woo the spoilt Pekingese, or the inevitable trials and tribulations of lambing season, there’s never a dull moment in Herriot’s company.

At times moving and often laugh-out-loud funny, The Wonderful World of James Herriot is rooted in the countryside, the animals and the people that he loved and will delight fans both old and new.

(Macmillan, hardback, £22)