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Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen, Anna Quindlen

All Things Bright and Beautiful

All Things Bright and Beautiful - James Herriot Dogs, cows, horses, sheep, cats and more die, while others are saved, some miraculously so in this continuation of James Herriot's series based on his experiences as a vet in the Yorkshire Dales of Northern England.

The gorgeous Yorkshire Dales...

The vast and windswept Yorkshire Dales...

This time around the country vet deals with drunk farmers, gets drunk on the job himself, has his Christmas spirit dashed and renewed all in one day, laments the disappearance of horses from farms, puts up with a snobby intern, and gets called up for service in the war raging in Europe.

(Herriot seeing a couple patients.)

Herriot gives us victories as well as his embarrassing defeats, the latter of which strengthens our love and attachment for the good doctor. The narrative is loose enough for Herriot to drop in things like past veterinarian calls and memories of pre-married life and coming up short in the eyes of his father-in-law.

Like a classic British sitcom, tried and true comedy is leaned on and recurring characters (such as Mr. Pickersgill the know-it-all who knows nothing and Clancy, a massive dog with a temper to match his size) make an appearance. These things may not be what we came for, but they are part of the package and without them the book wouldn't feel whole.

If the chapters sometimes seem like short stories, it's because they essentially are. Some are true, some are fabricated for sheer pleasure, and all are based on Herriot's (pen name) long career through out the 20th century, a time of change in the veterinarian and UK farming industry. There's no real overarching plot, just a sort of "life goes on" storyline that vaguely keeps the narrative going. The real draw for readers comes from the subject matter and Herriot's keen observations and great ability to spin a highly enjoyable yarn.