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The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of My Father

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With full access to his father's papers, correspondence, manuscripts, and photos, Wight has created a fitting and affectionate tribute to the well-loved vet and author of "All Creatures Great and Small". of photos. With full access to his father's papers, correspondence, manuscripts, and photos, Wight has created a fitting and affectionate tribute to the well-loved vet and author of "All Creatures Great and Small". of photos.


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With full access to his father's papers, correspondence, manuscripts, and photos, Wight has created a fitting and affectionate tribute to the well-loved vet and author of "All Creatures Great and Small". of photos. With full access to his father's papers, correspondence, manuscripts, and photos, Wight has created a fitting and affectionate tribute to the well-loved vet and author of "All Creatures Great and Small". of photos.

30 review for The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of My Father

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manybooks

    A glowing and appreciative homage to the late great Alfred Wight (who penned the absolutely delightful All Creatures Great and Small series under the pseudonym of James Herriot) by his son and fellow veterinarian James Wight, and while the author might not possess the same power of penmanship that his father had, The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of my Father truly provides a sweet and loving human portrait, whilst also showing fans of the series instances and anecdotes not covered in the novels A glowing and appreciative homage to the late great Alfred Wight (who penned the absolutely delightful All Creatures Great and Small series under the pseudonym of James Herriot) by his son and fellow veterinarian James Wight, and while the author might not possess the same power of penmanship that his father had, The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of my Father truly provides a sweet and loving human portrait, whilst also showing fans of the series instances and anecdotes not covered in the novels (about Alfred Wight's childhood and his university studies, his parents and their respective families, as well as interesting and welcome informational nuggets regarding some of the many clients/animals presented and depicted in the All Creatures Great and Small novels, what is truth, what is fiction, what has been combined from separate incidents, even occasionally multiple characters who have been merged merged into one entity). Highly recommended, but with the caveat that the narrative of The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of my Father does definitely at times move a bit slowly, choppily and even haltingly (and while this did not and does not bother me personally all that much, I do nevertheless think it should at least be mentioned as a so-called heads-up for potential readers, who might indeed and yes rather wrongfully expect that Jim Wright has been blessed with the same writing and especially storytelling capabilities his late father).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    Alfred Wight. James Herriot. One a real person's name, the other that person's fictional alter ego. Son Jim Wight does a splendid job on this biography, and I am so happy to have read it. I loved it all, from beginning to sometimes surprising middle to tearful end. The book is a loving, respectful portrayal of a man who was much more complex than I ever suspected. He was curious about many things, extremely observant of human nature, considered writing his hobby rather than his reason for being (an Alfred Wight. James Herriot. One a real person's name, the other that person's fictional alter ego. Son Jim Wight does a splendid job on this biography, and I am so happy to have read it. I loved it all, from beginning to sometimes surprising middle to tearful end. The book is a loving, respectful portrayal of a man who was much more complex than I ever suspected. He was curious about many things, extremely observant of human nature, considered writing his hobby rather than his reason for being (and he wrote all of his books in the evenings after work while family life and the tv roared in high gear all around him). He worried about life more than anyone ever thought he did, he loved his dogs as much as any of his clients loved theirs, and he tended to get glassy-eyed whenever mathematics was the topic of conversation or study. He loved football (soccer) and reading and music. And he was just a regular guy his entire life, even after he became famous. James repeatedly says how bemused his father always was about the way the public loved him and his books. I know I treasure all my Herriot titles, and (surprise surprise) I am now going to re-read the whole cycle. I could not possibly stay away, not after spending the last few days with everyone in Skeldale House!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    It was with hesitation that I purchased and eventually picked up this book to actually read. James Herriot is one of my favorite authors of all time. I grew up reading him in middle school, and he's my fall back author for when I'm feeling totally depressed and crapped out. So his books are very meaningful to me, and I was hesitant to discover any back story. This biography was written in chronological order by his son. It probably could have benefited from another format. When the author begins It was with hesitation that I purchased and eventually picked up this book to actually read. James Herriot is one of my favorite authors of all time. I grew up reading him in middle school, and he's my fall back author for when I'm feeling totally depressed and crapped out. So his books are very meaningful to me, and I was hesitant to discover any back story. This biography was written in chronological order by his son. It probably could have benefited from another format. When the author begins talking about the great-grandparents, it's purely derived from letters and distant documentation - not meaningful relationships, so it comes across as clinical and dry. When we finally get to the Herriot side of things, it's titillating but there's a lot withheld. Wight's significant encounter with depression is talked about but I feel like his son was trying to protect his father, so he never is at liberty to actually disclose those tough details. And there's shockingly little about Wight's wife - almost as if she declined to be involved. The ending is tough - do I really want to know what happened to my dear friends? Wight dying painfully of cancer, Donald intentionally overdosing, and Brian dying of disease. Painful, and I almost wish I didn't know just so that I could make believe Herriot's snapshot in time was eternal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    James Herriot was always an author I really liked, so it's interesting to have some background information and a few backstories of people (and animals) who became characters in his books. Jim Wight does not quite have the flair of his father, but occasionally he tells a story or quotes a letter and that certain something shows through. In a way the biography seems to be a way of making up for the fact that Jim feels he did not recognize or acknowledge his father's writing talent enough. I think James Herriot was always an author I really liked, so it's interesting to have some background information and a few backstories of people (and animals) who became characters in his books. Jim Wight does not quite have the flair of his father, but occasionally he tells a story or quotes a letter and that certain something shows through. In a way the biography seems to be a way of making up for the fact that Jim feels he did not recognize or acknowledge his father's writing talent enough. I think he gives a fair portrait of Herriot (real name: James Alfred "Alf" Wight) and some perceptive insights into what made the man tick. It's interesting to have backstories of some of the originals behind Herriot's more remarkable characters. All the same, it was a bit disappointing to know that the names of Alf's colleagues were not really inspired by Wagnerian opera!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    This book was a very interesting insight into the beloved author and "World's most famous vet". It seems Herriot was every bit as likable in reality as he seems to be in his famous semi-autobiographical books. Herriot's son, Jim Wight tells us proudly of Herriot's successes and unflinchingly of his struggles, which given his very private nature were often completely internalized. As a side bar it is also delightful to have some knowledge of the men on whom Tristan and Sigfried Farnon are based a This book was a very interesting insight into the beloved author and "World's most famous vet". It seems Herriot was every bit as likable in reality as he seems to be in his famous semi-autobiographical books. Herriot's son, Jim Wight tells us proudly of Herriot's successes and unflinchingly of his struggles, which given his very private nature were often completely internalized. As a side bar it is also delightful to have some knowledge of the men on whom Tristan and Sigfried Farnon are based and indeed it sounds like their portrayal in print is mostly spot-on. Right up-front, Wight tells us that he was reluctant to pen a biography about his famous father because he doesn't really consider himself a writer. While it is true that he writes in a different style than his dad, his biography is accessible and interesting to read. For me, he really hits his stride about thirty pages in. In a couple of places, Wight seems to inadvertently fall into the trap of recounting stories we've already heard told so masterfully in Herriot's canon. I feel these time are unfortunate because they don't play to Wight's strengths as an author. And a couple of times, Mr. Wight comes off a tad defensive in tone over some details that I would suppose the misunderstanding of which has been a source of irritation. But these are very minor flaws, and I am grateful that he has shared with us his unique perspective on the life of his father. I believe Mr. Wight provides a wonderfully succinct and insightful epitaph to his father's career as an author on Page 238: [Herriot:] felt compelled to describe the old Yorkshire he had grown to love -- a way of life that was fast disappearing -- and he wanted to preserve it for others to enjoy. And thank god he did! Herriot was always a little bemused by the interest that we Americans showed in his stories about his far-away rustic agricultural community. I must admit I'm bemused by his bemusement! But he supposes at one point the drive behind our attraction to his beloved Yorkshire. He says, in essence that he supposes we are drawn by the quiet, slow-paced, old fashioned ways that contrast so sharply with the face-paced, industrialized lifestyle which most Americans live. It is an accurate supposition, I think. What a remarkable man. What remarkable stories. What a remarkable legacy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    LibraryCin

    3.75 stars “James Herriot” was the pseudonym of a veterinarian, James “Alf” Wight, who became an author after decades of veterinary practice in the countryside of England in the mid-20th century. This biography was written by his son. Instead of, like Herriot’s books, a focus on the animals, this book focuses on Alf and the people in his life – his family, lifelong friends, veterinary partners, and more – starting with his life in the country and his vet practice, then switching to writing books, 3.75 stars “James Herriot” was the pseudonym of a veterinarian, James “Alf” Wight, who became an author after decades of veterinary practice in the countryside of England in the mid-20th century. This biography was written by his son. Instead of, like Herriot’s books, a focus on the animals, this book focuses on Alf and the people in his life – his family, lifelong friends, veterinary partners, and more – starting with his life in the country and his vet practice, then switching to writing books, which he also really seemed to enjoy. I’ve only read a couple of Herriot’s books, but I’ve really enjoyed them. This biography is very good, as well, and of course, there have to be a few animal stories thrown in – not only of a few of the patients, but also of Alf’s own pets. It’s been a bit too long for me to remember the “characters” in Herriot’s books to compare them to the real life versions of those people, but I still quite liked this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    You think you know James Herriot by reading All Creatures Great and Small and all the other books he wrote, but, you haven't really known him until you see him through his son's eyes. Jim Wight has written a marvelous memoir of his dad. If one can have said of himself that he refused to let fame go to his head, that his family was the most important thing he had, and that his love for his work showed in every word he wrote, he lived a good life. James Alfred Wight, James Herriot, lived a good li You think you know James Herriot by reading All Creatures Great and Small and all the other books he wrote, but, you haven't really known him until you see him through his son's eyes. Jim Wight has written a marvelous memoir of his dad. If one can have said of himself that he refused to let fame go to his head, that his family was the most important thing he had, and that his love for his work showed in every word he wrote, he lived a good life. James Alfred Wight, James Herriot, lived a good life. He's left an excellent example of manhood for generations to follow.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Willa Guadalupe Grant

    I wish I had not read this book. Not because it was not well written, though his son certainly lacks his father's flair, but because it was TMI. I had LOVED James Herriot's books, I read them again & again & laughed myself sick over them. The reality of the man's life was quite different. If you like and/or admire James Herriot's books I strongly urge you not to read this biography. I wish I had not read this book. Not because it was not well written, though his son certainly lacks his father's flair, but because it was TMI. I had LOVED James Herriot's books, I read them again & again & laughed myself sick over them. The reality of the man's life was quite different. If you like and/or admire James Herriot's books I strongly urge you not to read this biography.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Dawe

    This book well captures the spirit of "The Real James Herriot," Alf Wight, in its humour and sentimentality. It was often hilarious, and offered a candid look into Mr. Wight's life as both vet and author. My only complaint is that some sentments were oft repeated creating a longer book than neccessary. This book well captures the spirit of "The Real James Herriot," Alf Wight, in its humour and sentimentality. It was often hilarious, and offered a candid look into Mr. Wight's life as both vet and author. My only complaint is that some sentments were oft repeated creating a longer book than neccessary.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Luann

    Jim Wight has written a moving tribute to his father, James Alfred Wight, known as James Herriot to millions of fans around the world. At times it felt too long and detailed, but then he would catch my interest again with a funny or interesting story that hadn't been shared in any of the James Herriot books. In places it was quite reminiscent of the autobiographies of Dick Francis and Roald Dahl who shared some similar experiences - especially during the war. In fact, Dick Francis is mentioned s Jim Wight has written a moving tribute to his father, James Alfred Wight, known as James Herriot to millions of fans around the world. At times it felt too long and detailed, but then he would catch my interest again with a funny or interesting story that hadn't been shared in any of the James Herriot books. In places it was quite reminiscent of the autobiographies of Dick Francis and Roald Dahl who shared some similar experiences - especially during the war. In fact, Dick Francis is mentioned several times and is even in one of the pictures. He says: “Dick Francis, author of many best-selling books about the world of horse racing, was one of the most famous people Alf got to know well and he was probably one of his favourites – a modest and charming man with whom he kept in touch throughout their almost parallel climb up the ladder of fame.” I particularly enjoyed the personal memories shared by Wight about his father and others well-known from the books. He quoted from diaries and letters written by his father and even included a few love letters Alf wrote to his wife. There are also 16 pages of family photos. It was very interesting to find out what bits were real in the books and what had been changed. Mostly only the names of the people and the settings were changed. The stories James Herriot told in his books were all based on actual events. The last paragraph in the book says: "James Herriot, the unassuming veterinary surgeon who enthralled millions, was no fictional character. There was a man I knew, who possessed all the virtues of the famous veterinarian - and more. A totally honest man whose fine sense of humour and air of goodwill towards others ensured that he was respected by all who knew him. A man on whom, after his death, a Yorkshire farmer delivered his final verdict: 'Aye, he were a right decent feller.' That man was James Alfred Wight." If you are a James Herriot fan, I highly recommend this book. Now I need to go find a copy of James Herriot's Yorkshire.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Moses

    Jim Wight tells his father's story with humor, compassion, and candor. Although I was mortified when I first learned that 'James Herriot' was not the real name of the author who had since childhood enthralled me with beautifully written stories of the strong bonds between the human and animal worlds, I realize now that this was a selfish attitude--I did not want 'James Herriot' to protect himself and his friends from the inevitable media coverage that resulted from his multi-million book sales, Jim Wight tells his father's story with humor, compassion, and candor. Although I was mortified when I first learned that 'James Herriot' was not the real name of the author who had since childhood enthralled me with beautifully written stories of the strong bonds between the human and animal worlds, I realize now that this was a selfish attitude--I did not want 'James Herriot' to protect himself and his friends from the inevitable media coverage that resulted from his multi-million book sales, I wanted his real name so that he would in fact be the man I read about. I realize now that his rejection of the public approach chosen by many authors only shows that he was a far more real person, and that his stories came just as much from his memories as they did from his heart. Jim Wight's biography is not truly surprising--I would have worried, had it been. We KNOW James Herriot from his books; this just fleshes out the story a bit, and in that Jim Wight succeeds admirably. From the irrepressible antics of 'Siegfried' and 'Tristan' to his own unique mind, James Herriot's stories thrilled us, and Jim Wight brings that man into the realm of hard truth. Highly recommended.

  12. 5 out of 5

    April

    I grew up reading and rereading James Herriot's books. Learning about the man behind the story from his son was great. Although Jim Wight is not the author his father was, he does a job that is just fine. We learn more about Alf (James Herriot's real name) and his life. We learn that the stories he wrote are based on real life, real character that Alf and the people around him knew and experienced. We learn that Alf's life was not always as great as he led us to believe. We learn about his journ I grew up reading and rereading James Herriot's books. Learning about the man behind the story from his son was great. Although Jim Wight is not the author his father was, he does a job that is just fine. We learn more about Alf (James Herriot's real name) and his life. We learn that the stories he wrote are based on real life, real character that Alf and the people around him knew and experienced. We learn that Alf's life was not always as great as he led us to believe. We learn about his journey to and through authorship. He's an interesting person. Fun to read for anyone who want to know more about the world's favorite vet.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Perhaps 3 stars if you are not a fan of James Herriot’s books. I found it endearing that the book was slow to start. You could see the confidence in his son’s writing increase as the book progressed. Empathetically and reverently written, this is the holy grail for lovers of the James Herriot series of books. I loved it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I am going to refrain from giving this a rating for now, as I didn't read the entire book. Sadly, I'm setting this book aside. It seems overly detailed and I wasn't appreciative of hearing about all the 'drinking' party exploits that went on during Wight's vet school years. Maybe the biography gets better as the book progresses but it isn't holding my attention currently. I am going to refrain from giving this a rating for now, as I didn't read the entire book. Sadly, I'm setting this book aside. It seems overly detailed and I wasn't appreciative of hearing about all the 'drinking' party exploits that went on during Wight's vet school years. Maybe the biography gets better as the book progresses but it isn't holding my attention currently.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beverly Hollandbeck

    What's not to love? The biography of a warm, intelligent, sensitive, observant man who gave the world warm, intelligent, sensitive, and observant stories from his veterinary practice in the mid-twentieth century, this detailed picture was written by is son, who follows in his father's steps in recording a life well-lived. It was a joy to read about the real people behind Herriott's tales. What's not to love? The biography of a warm, intelligent, sensitive, observant man who gave the world warm, intelligent, sensitive, and observant stories from his veterinary practice in the mid-twentieth century, this detailed picture was written by is son, who follows in his father's steps in recording a life well-lived. It was a joy to read about the real people behind Herriott's tales.

  16. 4 out of 5

    PJ

    This came highly recommended by my brother and I was not disappointed. It took me a little while to get into it as the first part talks about his childhood and college years. I was more interested in learning about his vet years and marriage and family. I wanted to find out about the REAL man behind the pseudonym "James Herriot". This book and its author did not disappoint. Jim Wight knew his father better than anyone else and he describes him with so much love and respect and honesty. It was go This came highly recommended by my brother and I was not disappointed. It took me a little while to get into it as the first part talks about his childhood and college years. I was more interested in learning about his vet years and marriage and family. I wanted to find out about the REAL man behind the pseudonym "James Herriot". This book and its author did not disappoint. Jim Wight knew his father better than anyone else and he describes him with so much love and respect and honesty. It was good to the very end. I'm glad I did not close it too early. He even described his father's death and memorial in detail with love and compassion. Great book for anyone who loves James Herriot's work.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christie Bane

    This book is the life story of “James Herriot”, whose real name was Alf Wight, written by his son, and it was a seriously delightful book. James Herriot has to be one of the most beloved authors in history, and the delightful thing about this book is that it shows the person behind the books was just as good as the books! Alf Wight as he is described in this book was a kind, funny, hard-working man who stayed humble even when he (finally) became very successful. He loved his work, he loved his fa This book is the life story of “James Herriot”, whose real name was Alf Wight, written by his son, and it was a seriously delightful book. James Herriot has to be one of the most beloved authors in history, and the delightful thing about this book is that it shows the person behind the books was just as good as the books! Alf Wight as he is described in this book was a kind, funny, hard-working man who stayed humble even when he (finally) became very successful. He loved his work, he loved his family, and he loved writing. According to his son, the stories were all either true, or else heavily based on true stories with just a few details changed. James Wight writes like his father! That was really surprising. Not exactly like, of course, but enough like. He has the same open, inviting, amused tone. I don’t know if he’s written anything else or not, but I’m going to find out! One last thing. I read this book at the same time I was reading Prairie Fires, the biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura Ingalls Wilder came off as boring and slightly annoying, while Alf Wight came off even more interesting than I would have expected — and a decent human being as well! (Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter Rose, by the way, is even worse than her mother, a manipulative egomaniac with really bad judgment.) I used to want to go visit all the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites, but that urge has kind of dissipated after reading the book, while my previously non-existent desire to visit James Herriot’s Yorkshire is now burning strong. Goes to show how powerful a good book can be!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Having loved James Herriot’s books for many years, I was quite interested to read this memoir about his life, written by his son, Jim Wight. The author seems to have inherited his father’s writing abilities and tells the story of Alf Wight’s life with skill and good humor. In some ways, this book is a loving tribute to a father from his son and that tells you as much about Alf Wight as does the content of the book. It was particularly interesting to read about how Alf Wight ended up being a publ Having loved James Herriot’s books for many years, I was quite interested to read this memoir about his life, written by his son, Jim Wight. The author seems to have inherited his father’s writing abilities and tells the story of Alf Wight’s life with skill and good humor. In some ways, this book is a loving tribute to a father from his son and that tells you as much about Alf Wight as does the content of the book. It was particularly interesting to read about how Alf Wight ended up being a published author. As with many authors, the journey was full of discouragements, rejections and times when he seemed to stall out completely. If not for the encouragement of his wife and the providential reading of his book drafts by just the right people, his manuscripts may have stayed in his desk drawer. In one case, an American publisher was looking for an author to boost his sales and having been given a copy of one of Herriot’s books (already published in England under a different title), he was uninterested and set it aside. His wife picked it up at one point, read it and told her husband “You’ve got to publish this book! If you don’t, I’ll kill you!” Ha ha! Well, he read the book and took his wife’s advice and the rest is history. Herriot became beloved in America, as well as in England. His celebrity was well deserved, but he shunned the attention for the most part, always insisting that he was nine parts veterinarian and only one part author. We are all thankful for that one part.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kim Hampton

    A beautiful tribute to veterinarian and author James Herriot by his only son. James Alfred Wight was the real name of the man who would become the most famous vet in the world and bring Yorkshire to life for fans all over the world. It was fascinating to get a glimpse of his life from the person who probably knew him best.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    I was curious to hear about the actual life of James Herriot (aka Alf Wight), a writer who has brought me so much pleasure over the years (as much for his poignant portraits of 1940s & '50s Yorkshire, a vanishing corner of the world, as for his funny anecdotes and wonderful depictions of animals). But his son really can't write for beans. It was amazing how refreshing it was to come upon long passages from Herriot's books, like little oases scattered in a desert of dull prose. The most gratifyin I was curious to hear about the actual life of James Herriot (aka Alf Wight), a writer who has brought me so much pleasure over the years (as much for his poignant portraits of 1940s & '50s Yorkshire, a vanishing corner of the world, as for his funny anecdotes and wonderful depictions of animals). But his son really can't write for beans. It was amazing how refreshing it was to come upon long passages from Herriot's books, like little oases scattered in a desert of dull prose. The most gratifying part was hearing that Herriot really was the modest, kindly, wry guy who comes through in the books. He kept being astonished at his own success and continued to go out in the freezing cold to deliver calves in filthy barns well after his books had made him a wealthy man. Also it was fun to hear about the people who formed the basis for the characters in the books, like his erratic boss, who threatened to sue him at one point after Herriot had become a multi-best seller. All in all, I would only recommend this book to another diehard fan like me. I read the whole thing, but if you want to know James Herriot you'd do better to pick up ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL. Now that's a great book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    have been a fan of James Herriott books all my life watch films, tv series and was saddened by Alf Wight death. This book could onlty have been written by someone very close to him and was apt this was written by his son. I was eager to read this and what a story, with so many surprises too, I always thought he was born in Glasgow but he was a macham (born in Sunderland) although he lived and studied in Glasgow. The book fills in the gaps and gives the reader a greater understanding of this vet fi have been a fan of James Herriott books all my life watch films, tv series and was saddened by Alf Wight death. This book could onlty have been written by someone very close to him and was apt this was written by his son. I was eager to read this and what a story, with so many surprises too, I always thought he was born in Glasgow but he was a macham (born in Sunderland) although he lived and studied in Glasgow. The book fills in the gaps and gives the reader a greater understanding of this vet first and writer second. He practiced in a time before antibiotics and technology. It was aparent that it was not plain sailing for Alf (Herriot) to get his books published and I am sure now the publishers who rejected the vet books are still reeling from this. A wonderful insight into a wonderful man, family, Yorkshire and a great loss to the world of books. Well written and a joy to read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    There are two authors on the top of my personal favorites list. One is Sebastian Barry and the other is James Herriot. I devoured everything JH wrote in my younger years, so when we planned our four week return to England, I just had to visit his house/surgery in adorable Thirsk. It was such a moving experience for me. I was one of the Americans who loved his stories about animals and people with a passion. I laughed and cried my way through the books by this beloved writer. It's only fitting hi There are two authors on the top of my personal favorites list. One is Sebastian Barry and the other is James Herriot. I devoured everything JH wrote in my younger years, so when we planned our four week return to England, I just had to visit his house/surgery in adorable Thirsk. It was such a moving experience for me. I was one of the Americans who loved his stories about animals and people with a passion. I laughed and cried my way through the books by this beloved writer. It's only fitting his son should tell the story of his Dad. His admiration and love soak the pages. There are some surprises in this book; they made me appreciate and love (JH) even more. Now I must read his books again. Yorkshire was just as gorgeous as he said it was. I highly recommend The World of James Herriot for anyone in the area. It's an interesting time capsule of the 1940-50s if you're a fan or not. IF you're a fan, it's an absolute must! So is this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    CindySR#snowday!

    A loving tribute to a wonderful man. There are a few surprises to be gleaned from the real story, but he was the James Herriot we all know from the books. A must read for all his fans.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caralee

    I absolutely adore all of James Herriot's books, and I wanted to learn more about the man behind the pen name, Alfred Wight. This biography, written by his son Jim Wight, does a good job of shedding light on the life and times of his famous veterinarian father, his early years, his work, his literary career, and the Yorkshire region he loved so much. It was interesting to read the real backstories behind other beloved characters from his books as well, especially the one-of-a-kind Sinclair (aka I absolutely adore all of James Herriot's books, and I wanted to learn more about the man behind the pen name, Alfred Wight. This biography, written by his son Jim Wight, does a good job of shedding light on the life and times of his famous veterinarian father, his early years, his work, his literary career, and the Yorkshire region he loved so much. It was interesting to read the real backstories behind other beloved characters from his books as well, especially the one-of-a-kind Sinclair (aka Farnon) brothers, and the other people and animals Herriot brought to life so colourfully and memorably on the page. Alf Wight was a gifted storyteller who was able to craft hilarious, poignant, picturesque, and endearing stories, using simple but eloquent language, and one of his main gifts was that the reader is able to feel his personality shining through every word, and is left with an impression of a warm, compassionate, self-effacing, and humorous man for whom you cannot help but feel affection. In writing this biography, the author freely admits that he is a far less accomplished writer and reader than his famous father, which I'm inclined to forgive, but unfortunately this book is also lacking in his father's characteristic warmth. I believe that the author wrote this book primarily as a labour of love, but it's clear that he also used it as a medium for airing some of his own personal grievances as well, most notably about Donald Sinclair, toward whom the writer seems to harbor a fair amount of animosity, despite his attempts to soften this with rather faint and vague praise. The author also indulges in some personal political posturing, complaining bitterly about the Labour party and celebrating the election of a Conservative government, which I felt was quite unnecessary to the narrative. His father did not seem to mind paying taxes on his wealth nearly as much as his son appears to resent it, and in my opinion the author spends far too much time discussing and flexing about his father's finances, even when they were still very modest. I learned some new an interesting things about one of my favourite authors from reading this book, which I enjoyed, but in spite of my interest in the material, I found it difficult at times to engage and connect with the dry and repetitive delivery. I would have enjoyed this book more if there were more stories and remembrances of Alf as a husband and a father - not just the places they went, but the kind of funny family anecdotes that they will remember - to humanize him a bit more than the author does here. I also think the book would benefit from a little more editing to improve flow, pacing, and length. In all, however, I liked the book, and I would definitely recommend it to fans of James Herriot, the author, who want to know more about Alfred Wight, the man.

  25. 4 out of 5

    The Hobbit

    Very funny memories of Alfred Wight, the veterinarian who wrote as James Herriot, recounted by his son. Jim Wight describes his father's childhood in Glasgow, his years in veterinary school, and his work as Donald Sinclair's partner in Thirsk in Yorkshire, England. Jim identifies the real people who inspired the characters in his father's books. He explains why his father set the books in the Yorkshire Dales, 20 miles to the west of the surgery building in Thirsk. Jim's writings are as entertain Very funny memories of Alfred Wight, the veterinarian who wrote as James Herriot, recounted by his son. Jim Wight describes his father's childhood in Glasgow, his years in veterinary school, and his work as Donald Sinclair's partner in Thirsk in Yorkshire, England. Jim identifies the real people who inspired the characters in his father's books. He explains why his father set the books in the Yorkshire Dales, 20 miles to the west of the surgery building in Thirsk. Jim's writings are as entertaining as his father's and as funny. Since Jim became a veterinarian and worked next to his father and Donald Sinclair for several years, he is the perfect author to know the daily working of the practice and the personalities of the doctors, their clients, and their patients. A must read for lovers of the James Herriot's books or the TV series All Creatures Great and Small.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Eyre

    I was really looking forward to reading this book, but was seriously disappointed and barely managed to finish it. The author certainly has a chip on his shoulder! His dislike of Donald Sinclair/Siegfried Farnon was obvious throughout. He also seemed intent on reminding the reader every few minutes that he writing about his father, Alf Wight/James Herriot. Sorry but I don't have short term memory loss and the clue is in the title of the book. The author could also have used a decent editor to cu I was really looking forward to reading this book, but was seriously disappointed and barely managed to finish it. The author certainly has a chip on his shoulder! His dislike of Donald Sinclair/Siegfried Farnon was obvious throughout. He also seemed intent on reminding the reader every few minutes that he writing about his father, Alf Wight/James Herriot. Sorry but I don't have short term memory loss and the clue is in the title of the book. The author could also have used a decent editor to cut out all the repetition , which would have halved it! Reader beware, he cannot write a tale like his father.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike Reinking

    A Life Well Lived -and Well Accounted A very enjoyable biography of the real James Herriot - Alf Wight. His son Jim does an excellent job detailing the life of his father and the wonderful man that he was. Great stories recounting a very humble, happy, and generous vet.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jan J

    Loved it! I'm ready to go to Yorkshire! Loved it! I'm ready to go to Yorkshire!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kivrin

    I really enjoyed this personal story of the real-life James Herriot. There are lovely personal views of a man who really was as kind and warm as the character he created, but the book also addresses his struggles with finances and depression which make him even more real. The son is a good writer although I found the first third of the book was a little too full of details and slow, but the rest of the book was a great read that often moved me to tears and made me laugh just like his father's boo I really enjoyed this personal story of the real-life James Herriot. There are lovely personal views of a man who really was as kind and warm as the character he created, but the book also addresses his struggles with finances and depression which make him even more real. The son is a good writer although I found the first third of the book was a little too full of details and slow, but the rest of the book was a great read that often moved me to tears and made me laugh just like his father's books. Really, really recommend this one if you love Herriot's stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Asta

    Though I love James Herriot's books, and the film series made about his life, I did not find this book engaging enough to complete. Though I love James Herriot's books, and the film series made about his life, I did not find this book engaging enough to complete.

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