le 7 février 2014
Although the proud owner of the paper version (and the whole series as well) I had to purchase the Kindle edition to be able to read some parts anytime anywhere. It is the very first book in the series, I think it's best to start with this one to understand the setting and witness James's first introduction to his new boss and the Yorkshire Dales countryside and farmers. Absolutely hilarious, I remember laughting out loud in a train carriage years ago, unable to help it... The beautiful setting makes you dream, you feel empathy with the main characters, you get to know the everyday life of a rural veterinary surgeon in the 1920s... A must-have if you're looking for a funny book. Also for vet students interested in their trade history. Delighful!
When this book was published in the States in 1972, it caused a sensation. Critics and publishers alike called it “a miracle” and, for once, they were right. Its success prompted its author to write two sequels and several other books, and in time everything Herriot-related created a kind of industry, including an excellent TV series. Recently, a stage adaptation premièred in 2010, and late last year a BBC drama called “Young James Herriot” started airing on TV, based in part on a biography written by his son. With all these derivative projects, it pays to remember that the original books are still exceptionally good and worth rediscovering.
Set in the late thirties onwards, these hilarious anecdotes (loosely based on real-life events) relate the adventures and misadventures of a city-bred, newly-qualified vet who settles down to his first paying job in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales, where life is tough, men are tougher, money is short, and animals are mostly viewed as commodities and crops. James Herriot gets properly stuck in and finds that being a good vet is only part of the job. Siegfried Farnon, his jovial but mercurially unpredictable boss, requires careful handling, the local farmers would test the patience of a saint, and when Siegfried's younger brother Tristan comes home to help with the practice, tensions between the brothers soon escalate until James is unwittingly caught in the middle of some pretty serious domestic warfare. As if his life weren't already full, romance beckons but the path of true love is, as always, strewn with difficulties. The narrative is delightful, a perfect mix of humour and moving realism as the young vet's initially diffident and hostile clients gradually begin to accept the outsider (and a Scot to boot) and his difficult and often uncomfortable work starts to bring its own rewards. A heart-warming book suitable for absolutely everyone.