In the 1972 semi-autobiographical novelization of 1930s rural Yorkshire, “All Creatures Great and Small”, we meet a young James Herriot at the very start of his career. In the book, the story’s setting has been moved from Thirsk to Darrowby, a fictional village, composited by some of Thirsk’s neighboring towns and civil parishes. In the book, we follow Herriot through his first few years in veterinary practice. We see how the people of the Yorkshire Dales take him in as a newly qualified vet, and join him through the trials and tribulations, but also in his triumphs. Throughout the book, we learn of the deep friendships and bonds Herriot makes in Darrowby, and get a glimpse into what life was like as a practitioner in the 1930’s.
From the opening chapters, the book presents us with a varied arsenal of humorous and endearing characters. From the dynamic between the characters of Skeldale House, such as Herriot’s partner Siegfried Farnon’s strained relationship with his brother, to the dialogues between Herriot and the local farmers, we encounter many absurd and amusing situations. As a Norwegian, something I found particularly interesting about the dialogues was the similarities between the Yorkshire dialect and many Norwegian terms, like “jur” instead of udder, “ney” for no, and “beck” when talking about a stream or a brook. Herriot has managed to capture the tone of the village in his writing, helping you as a reader really be able to envision the characters almost entirely by the way they interact with the protagonist.
As of writing this, I only have a few chapters left to read, but one thing I am certain of is that when I’m finished I have to see the 1970’s series based on the author James Alfred Wight’s books. If you haven’t already read the book as a part of the book club, I highly recommend picking up a copy. This is an easy and cozy autumn read, that all veterinary students should have on their bookshelves.
What did you guys think of the book? Have any of you read it previously? I’d love to get your take on it! Leave a comment down below, or over on the @vettobe Instagram, and leave a like below if you’re enjoying the book club recommendations so far.