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THE REAL JAMES HERRIOT by Jim Wight

THE REAL JAMES HERRIOT

A Memoir of My Father

By Jim Wight

Pub Date: March 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-345-42151-5
Publisher: Ballantine

A heartfelt account of the life of Alf Wight, veterinarian author of the bestselling James Herriot books, by his son.

The younger Wight, who worked alongside his father in theYorkshire practice familiar to millions through books, movies,

and television, has created a loving, unsentimental portrait of his well-known father. He draws on the elder Wight’s letters to his

parents and his wife, his unpublished writings and unwritten oral narratives, the recollections of friends and colleagues, and his

own memories. Instead of turning Alf Wight's life story into a warm Herriot tale, his son acknowledges the health problems that

plagued him at veterinary school and later cut short his time in the RAF, the deep depression he experienced in 1960, and the

prostate cancer that took his life in 1995. But it is his working life, both as a veterinarian and as a writer, that the author focuses

on, and the details here are rich. Particularly gratifying for Herriot's fans are the full-length sketches of the real-life counterparts

of such fictional characters as Siegfried and Tristan Farnon—Donald and Brian Sinclair—and their long relationship with the

famous author. Wight complicates such relationships still further by introducing the actors and actresses who portrayed Herriot,

his wife, and his colorful colleagues in the movie and television versions. (At one point Donald Sinclair, unhappy over his

portrayal as Siegfried in the film, threatened a lawsuit, but friendship prevailed.) Yorkshire farmers are here too, although Wight

makes clear that the way of life Herriot depicted so well has now vanished. Wight also reveals, using excerpts from an early

unpublished novel and from later published stories, how long and hard his father worked at becoming a writer.

A thoroughly satisfying biography—believable, entertaining, and filled with engaging characters. Sure to be relished by

Herriot's many fans. (8 pages b&w photos)