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If Only They Could Talk (1970)

de James Herriot

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7091424,836 (4.08)25
'I grew up reading James Herriot's book and I'm delighted that thirty years on they are still every bit as charming, heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny as they were then.' Kate Humble Fresh out of Veterinary College, and shoulder-deep in an uncooperative cow, James Herriot's first job is not panning out exactly as expected . . . To a Glaswegian like James, 1930s Yorkshire appears to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But even life in the sleepy village of Darrowby has its challenges. On the one hand there are his new colleagues, Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, two brothers who attract a constant stream of local girls to whom James is strangely invisible. On the other he must contend with herds of semi-feral cattle, gruff farmers with incomprehensible accents and an overweight Pekingese called Tricki Woo . . . Heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure, If Only They Could Talk is a book for all those who find laughter and joy in animals, and who know and understand the magic and beauty of Britain's wild places.… (mais)
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I remember watching the original series based on the James Herriot books when I was little, and the recent remake - bland and somewhat unconvincing, more Tumblr farmcore than pre-war Yorkshire - inspired me to revisit the show and finally start on the books. Neither thrilled me, I have to admit.

The adaptations try to knit Herriot's professional memoirs into a soap opera but both are far too repetitive to sustain my interest for long. Herriot - real name Alf Wight - was a vet who moved to the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930s and joined an irascible but lively 'vitnery' called Siegfried and his younger brother Tristan (Donald and Brian Sinclair), also training to join the practice. Apart from quirky cameos from Mrs Pumphrey and Tricki Woo, the first book in the series consists of James sticking his arm up the bottoms of various cows, pigs and horses while receiving laconic commentary from blunt Yorkshire farmers. That's it, that's the book, and the show.

Some of the 'episodes', which were translated very faithfully to the small screen until James Herriot ran out of books, are sad - a horse with torsion in severe pain, and the poor old man with his dog who made me cry - but mostly Herriot was relying on Siegfried bellowing at Tristan and adventures with wayward animals. Great for the first few chapters and then reading became a chore.

I'll wait another ten years and then pick up the rest of the series. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Sep 22, 2021 |
Very funny memoirs of a vet in 1930s Yorkshire. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Aug 10, 2021 |
I love All Creatures Great and Small, the tv series, so thought I should read the books, so I started with this first one. What a delight to read and enjoy again! If you love animals, then you must read these books. They are warm and a wonderful rendition of 1930's Yorkshire. We can all use a little walk down memory lane in these trying times, and I can think of no better place to start then with Herriot's memoirs. Thanks to my Brit TV fan club for turning me onto these stories. ( )
  Romonko | Mar 5, 2021 |
The first in the series, and the best. The episodes are naturally connected into a story of Herriot’s initial year in the Darrowby practice.

(Unless you buy the current Amazon Kindle edition, which for some inexplicable reason lacks the final chapter, which makes it like ... like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band suddenly cut off at the end of Good Morning Good Morning.) ( )
  Stravaiger64 | Feb 17, 2021 |
This was a bit too G-rated for me. It isn't bad, just really bland. ( )
  breic | Nov 28, 2020 |
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'I grew up reading James Herriot's book and I'm delighted that thirty years on they are still every bit as charming, heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny as they were then.' Kate Humble Fresh out of Veterinary College, and shoulder-deep in an uncooperative cow, James Herriot's first job is not panning out exactly as expected . . . To a Glaswegian like James, 1930s Yorkshire appears to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But even life in the sleepy village of Darrowby has its challenges. On the one hand there are his new colleagues, Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, two brothers who attract a constant stream of local girls to whom James is strangely invisible. On the other he must contend with herds of semi-feral cattle, gruff farmers with incomprehensible accents and an overweight Pekingese called Tricki Woo . . . Heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure, If Only They Could Talk is a book for all those who find laughter and joy in animals, and who know and understand the magic and beauty of Britain's wild places.

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