Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed the 2012 film adaptation of Great Expectations and shared the background of an incident that showed up in The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. Anne told the story of her fifth-great-grandmother who was born in Shrewsbury in 1765 — the post includes the woman’s portrait painted by George Romney in 1790.
I read a couple of James Herriot books when I was a kid, although in the Reader’s Digest Condensed versions. I don’t think I fully understood at the time what that meant. When I was an adult, I’d occasionally read a book and realize that the plot was familiar but the presentation completely different from what I remembered. Eventually, it dawned on me that “condensed” meant that the book had been rewritten and streamlined with fewer details, characters, and events.
Wikipedia has the list of Reader’s Digest Condensed volumes for the US, from 1950 to 1997. James Herriot showed up four times.
All Creatures Great and Small appeared in Volume 5 in 1973 (I was 11). That was the first year that there was a Volume 5. Before then, the four volumes of each year were labeled with the seasons.
The next year we got All Things Bright and Beautiful in Volume 5 of 1974. I waited anxiously for Mother to finish reading all five stories in that volume so I could have my turn at reading the story about the animals. James Herriot inspired me to want to be a veterinarian, briefly.
By the time that The Lord God Made Them All showed up in 1981, I was away at college. Although, I might have picked it up during a school break for a quick read. I’m not sure that my parents were still getting the Reader’s Digest Condensed books by the time that Every Living Thing appeared in 1993.
At age 11 and 12, the animals were the biggest appeal. Less obviously, I absorbed a fascination for the beauty of Yorkshire.
I watched the first two series of the latest adaptation using my PBS Passport (a benefit of supporting my local PBS station). Each series had six episodes plus a Christmas special. Two more series are in the works.
I’m really enjoying the characters. Mrs. Hall, the housekeeper, is a strong, resilient woman who handles the shenanigans of a household for three adult men and their busy veterinary practice as well as the comings and goings of various friends, family members, and romantic interests. Then there are the animals — a spoiled Pekinese, a flock of hens, and countless sheep, horses, and cows.
The series is filmed on location in the Yorkshire Dales with the village of Grassington standing in for the fictional Darrowby. Masterpiece posted an Armchair Travel Guide with beautiful photos and lots of information.
I would love to visit every place on their list, but I’m particularly fascinated by the hiking opportunities and the last site that is mentioned in the article, the World of James Herriot:
a museum housed at 23 Kirkgate in Thirsk; it’s where the author of All Creatures Great and Small lived, worked and wrote his stories. The site is a fully restored time capsule with many of the original home furnishings, dispensary equipment, and memorabilia displaying items related to James Herriot’s writing career.
Have you seen this series or read the books? What did you think?