All Creatures Great and Small - by James Herriot
"a must-read for animal lovers, especially aspiring veterinarians"
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot is a must-read for all animal lovers, especially aspiring veterinarians. It is a compilation of stories from Herriot's own adventures when he was fresh out of medical school, working as an assistant in the Yorkshire region of England. This is close to the extent of the plot line. The book begins with roughly the beginning of his apprenticeship when he applies for the job of assistant to Mr. Siegfried Farnon, a young man who has just bought the veterinary practice from an older gentleman. The book progresses in chronological order spanning somewhere around a two year time period. During this time frame Herriot works very hard and proves himself to his boss Farnon. Each chapter is a story of his doctoring of farm animals and pets. There is also loose background plot, which ties the story together, regarding his life and the characters and events that surround it.
Herriot cares for all kinds of animals including a lot of cows, sheep, pigs, and horses. The stories' moods vary from humorous to heartrending to jubilant. In addition to Farnon and Herriot, there are intermediate characters, such as Tristan, who take part in the action for a portion of the book and countless characters who appear only once. These are hardly the least in importance, however. Each of these characters is unique and Herriot's portrayal of them is outstanding. Some of the characters are outgoing and funny, others are melancholy and more reserved, and some are just outright unintelligent.
Herriot's magnificent storytelling doesn't end at his characters. He writes of all the animals with great care and love, and a passion to be jealous of. You may be thinking, Stories about nursing sick cows and birthing horses cannot in any way possible be entertaining. But you would be very wrong. The stories are enthralling. One of my favorites is of Mrs. Pumphrey who forcibly generates a relationship between her spoiled dog, Tricki Woo, and his Uncle Herriot. Tricki Woo writes letters to Uncle Herriot and also invites him to parties. This is just one example of the many of his charming stories. They are perfect for light, feel-good reading, and if you want more this is only the first in the series!