Every Living Thing by James Herriot
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a joy to discover I had one more unread book to read by legendary vet and author James Herriot! I thought I'd read this one back when I was downing these books like they were water, but I guess I missed it. Many of the stories are familiar, but I realized that's probably because they were used in the tv series, all the episodes of which I've seen a couple times over.
Every Living Thing has all the wonderful goodness of the first four books in the series. Plenty of veterinarian triumphs and failures with that human-to-animal and vice versa connection ever present in Herriot's work. The remote English windswept countryside comes to living-breathing life as a backdrop to the well-described trials and tribulations of the vet, the farmers he served and the cows, horses, dogs, cats, sheep, etc etc etc that so enveloped their lives.
Once I realized I hadn't read this one before I really started to get into it. After all, this is probably the last Herriot book I'd ever read. I've loved them so very much that I wanted to learn more about his world. I went online and found the town of Thirsk, UK, which I'd once driven through in search of the veterinarian practice where he worked. I didn't find it then, back in ye olden pre-smart phone days, but I found it now on Google Street View, which even allows you to step inside the house and have a look around! I also read a Wiki page to two about Herriot and his books, and came to find out that many of the characters I suspected were completely fictional were actually real! Of course the names have been changed, but I was surprised that they were actual people, because the way Herriot portrayed them, they seemed too ridiculous to be true. I'm thinking mainly of "Mrs. Pomphrey". I learned the sad news that back when I originally read these most of the people, including the writer himself, were dying of old age, ailments and accidents. Bummer.
But always, Herriot balanced the happy with the sad, and Every Living Thing strikes that balance perfectly. It's a great finish to a great series!
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