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The Wonderful World of James Herriott: A Charming Collection of Classic Stories    by James Herriott order for
Wonderful World of James Herriott
by James Herriott
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2023 (2023)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's a real treat for fans of All Creatures Great and Small and the Yorkshire Dales - biography tidbits from the life of the real James Herriott (James Alfred Wight)) interspersed with related excerpts from the best of his stories. Drawings and family photographs enrich the presentation.

In their Introduction, Alf Wight's children, Jim Wight (a veterinarian who worked alongside his father) and Rosie Page (a family doctor) talk of accompanying their father on farm visits as children. They tell us that though Alf always dreamed of writing, he only achieved literary success in his fifties. It never went to his head. They share memories of their dad's practice partner, Donald Sinclair, immortalized as Siegfried Farnon. Their favorite Herriott stories are featured in this volume.

They're some of my favorite stories too, but what makes them so special to re-read is their connection to, and comparison with, real life events. For example, Alf joined (and then ran) Donald's practice in Thirsk (the real Darrowby) in 1940, when Donald joined the RAF. Alf was himself called up in 1942. His wife Joan wasn't actually a farmer's daughter. We also learn more of the real Tristan (Brian Sinclair), and of both brothers' reactions to their depictions in the stories.

Though the Epilogue is sad, given that so many beloved Herriott characters have passed away, I found it a delight to read The Wonderful World of James Herriott and re-immerse myself once more in the North Yorkshire landscape. This volume would make the perfect gift for any series fan.

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