Country-Vet. Living: Book I

If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot

First Line: “They didn’t say anything about this in the books, I thought, as the snow blew in through the gaping doorway and settled on my naked back.”

It’s 1937 and rookie veterinarian James Herriot has just partnered with the eccentric (but established) Siegfried Farnon in the quaint English countryside of Darrowby. What happens when they get a midnight call for a cow with milk fever? Is there any hope for a champion horse with a torsion? Better yet–how does one treat the irksome “eversion of the uterus?”

Because Herriot continually faces literal life-and-death situations, each chapter is its own mini-adventure. The episodes are emotional and wonderfully comedic. Herriot introduces characters (humans and animals alike) that are distinct. The typical clients are gritty farmers skeptical of his qualifications, yet there’s also Mrs. Pumphrey–a wealthy widow who personifies and spoils her dog Tricki. Thus, Herriot’s work bonuses range from free suppers and slabs of butter, to elaborate party invitations and expensive brandy.

Herriot’s home life is equally engaging. Hilarity abounds when Farnon’s younger brother Tristan comes to stay. There’s trouble with the bill notifications, escaped chickens, and prank phone calls. What’s not to love?

I’m thrilled to say that Herriot’s adventures continue in seven other collections. Each has a permanent place on my “to-read” list, because, as Herriot reflects, “If you decide to become a veterinary surgeon you will never grow rich, but you will have a life of endless interest and variety.”

I think the same goes for reading about a country vet.

Bottom Line: Here’s your chance to job shadow one of the world’s most rewarding careers–all from the comfort of your armchair.