Luann's Reviews > The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of My Father

The Real James Herriot by James Wight
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's review
Dec 31, 08

bookshelves: 2008, adult, biography, nonfiction
Recommended for: James Herriot fans
Read in December, 2008

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.


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Reading Progress

12/21/2008 page 1
12/24/2008 page 18
4.85% "It hasn't caught my interest yet. I'm hoping it will soon."
12/25/2008 page 76
20.49% "I'm learning all about his early days in school. I need to add some Wodehouse to my TBR list."
12/27/2008 page 120
32.35% "He just met "Helen," his future wife!"
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