Wednesday 3 November 2021

Book Review: All Creatures Great and Small Series by James Herriot

If Only They Could Talk by James Herriot book cover

When the newly qualified vet, James Herriot, arrives in the small Yorkshire village of Darrowby, he has no idea of the new friends he will meet or adventures that lie ahead. 

From the author whose books inspired the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, these unforgettable memoirs chronicle James Herriot's years as a country vet, with the signature storytelling magic that has made him a favourite the world over. These are books for those who find laughter and joy in animals, and know and understand the magic of wild places and beautiful countryside.

The All Creatures Great and Small series is a much-loved classic, a staple of the bookshelf in homes across the country for decades. These books have also been a staple throughout my own life, from bedtime stories to comfort reads. And in 2021, they were definitely overdue for a revisit and an enjoyable reread. 

The original series comprises of seven books - If Only They Could Talk, It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet, Let Sleeping Vets Lie, Vet in Harness, Vets Might Fly, Vet in a Spin, and The Lord God Made Them All. Each follows James Herriot, a vet living and working in rural Yorkshire during the 1930s and 40s. From his early days in practice to his family life and stint in the RAF, these semi-autobiographical tales are brimming with humour and a clear love of people, nature, and animals. 

Whether it is the humorous or the heartbreaking, each volume is packed with dozens of short, contained stories that represent just a small snapshot of Herriot's working life. From the old to the new, each story is beautifully crafted and carries a timeless appeal that has secured the series' popularity for so many years. 

Of course, though, it isn't just about the animals. Herriot's stories are peppered with characters as rich and diverse as the animals they keep, and his descriptions of the beautiful Yorkshire countryside clearly show his love for the county. While things have undoubtedly changed a lot in the decades since these books were set, the Herriot stories harken back to a simpler lifestyle and an altogether different way of life. 

This isn't the first time I've read the books and I'm sure it won't be the last, either. There's something that just keeps drawing me back to the world of James, Helen, Siegfried and Tristan. 

Rating: 5 stars

The complete James Herriot boxset is available to buy now.

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Have you read the James Herriot books? Let me know in the comments below! 


  1. I remember reading the All Creatures Great and Small books years ago. I think my dad had the whole collection. x