I did not have pets growing up but longed for one to call my own. Maybe that’s what drew me to James Herriot’s books. I’ve read his books several times over the years and last year, when PBS Masterpiece relaunched the series, I was all in. (For my review, click #AllCreaturesGreatandSmall Book and #PBSMasterpiece Review). I loved the series from the get-go and listened to the original audiobook last year. Now the first two books in the collection can be found narrated by Nicholas Ralph, star of the current TV series. I gladly burned an Audible credit to listen to the second volume in the series.
“All Things Bright and Beautiful (Amazon) is the beloved sequel to Herriot’s first collection, All Creatures Great and Small, and picks up as Herriot, now newly married, journeys among the remote hillside farms and valley towns of the Yorkshire Dales, caring for their inhabitants–both two- and four-legged. Throughout, Herriot’s deep compassion, humor, and love of life shine as we laugh, cry, and delight in the portraits of his many varied animal patients and their equally varied owners.”
Unlike the TV series, James and Helen married at the end of All Creatures Great and Small, so there’s a married James Herriot in this volume. The stories of the young newlyweds are sweet, and usually James is the butt of the joke. The story of trying to buy furnishings for their little apartment is comical, and just shows that he should stick to treating animals and leave the shopping to someone else. He rarely says anything derogatory about his wife, other than to describe her as “big”, which just reflects the time in which these stories were written and the times about which they are told.
While I enjoyed listening to the original All Creatures Great and Small, I think I enjoyed listening to Nicholas Ralph’s interpretation of Herriot’s work more because he so embodies the young Scottish veterinarian turned Yorkshire vet. He gives the same measured performance with his narration as he does to his acting on TV. The fictional town of Darrowby and the surrounding communities are so charming, as are the people portrayed. Some of the stories in the book have made their way onto the small screen, and I can’t wait to watch all the episodes this season (I’m a little behind on viewing because of the Olympics and the fact that Masterpiece also chose to air David Tennant’s Around the World in 80 Days at the same time as All Creatures Great and Small. Too much good TV to watch lately!)
As always, the Sigfried and Tristan stories are great, and are part of the continued charm of the television series, but there are plenty of other stories to make you smile, laugh and yes, even cry. The gamut of emotions one goes through while reading or listening make this volume just as enjoyable as the original book.
For more reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com
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