Every Living Thing Essay - Critical Essays

James Herriot

Every Living Thing

Herriot’s veterinary practice has provided him with a wealth of anecdotes about the animals, clients, colleagues, and neighbors he has encountered over the years. His latest collection starts almost literally with a bang — a huge draft horse collapses in reaction to Herriot’s first injection of an antihistamine in conjunction with his old remedy for allergic rashes. Fortunately for Herriot, the horse experiences an amazingly quick recovery, demonstrating the unpredictable nature of veterinary science in adapting new medicines to age-old problems.

EVERY LIVING THING includes accounts of life in the 1950’s, when Herriot and his family moved out of Skeldale House into their own residence, complete with improved heating and extra bedrooms. The family revels in their new radio/record player — equally likely to be playing Herriot’s classical music or Jimmy and Rosie’s Elvis songs. The children enjoy assisting Herriot on his rounds and he welcomes the free time provided to him as a result of hiring two veterinary interns, John Crooks and Calum Buchanan. Although Herriot is somewhat dismayed at having to relinquish his title as “the yoong man,” he enjoys the camaraderie of the new assistants, particularly the eccentric Calum, whose own menagerie of pets includes a huge dog and a tame badger named Marilyn.

As always, Herriot’s stories are capable of moving the reader to laughter and to tears. From his amusing encounters with the pampered Tricki Woo to the heart-wrenching story of his attempts to befriend two wild kittens, Herriot knows how to convey the warmth, drama, and universality of life in the Yorkshire dales.