All Things Bright and Beautiful Analysis
by James Herriot

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Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

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In All Things Bright and Beautiful, James Herriot gathers together a series of loosely related episodes detailing his life from the time of his marriage in 1941 to his call to military service in 1943, with an occasional flashback to his courtship of Helen Alderson. Originally published in England as two separate books, All Things Bright and Beautiful has no overall structure or climax. The episodes, which are not in strict chronological order, can be read separately, although Herriot seems to expect that his readers have read All Creatures Great and Small (1972), which explains his relationship with Siegfried and Tristan Farnon.

For the most part, Herriot focuses on people and animals, pointing out their strengths and eccentricities. Unlike his partner, Siegfried Farnon, he values pets and small animals, even epileptic dogs and cows with mastitis. Often the people of Yorkshire hinder Herriot’s work, insisting that they know more about animals than he does. He encounters farmers who will only call him as a last resort and unqualified country folk who pass themselves off as animal doctors.

Several chapters in the book treat Herriot’s attempts to gain the confidence of others. He seems to want to emulate the refined animal surgeon Granville Bennett, who always maintains his composure and can appear sophisticated even in a snow-storm. Although he has been in Darrowby for two years, Herriot believes that he is still earning the trust of those around him, as with the case of an artist who does not want him to operate on his dog. Throughout the book, he comes to appreciate seemingly unlikable people, such as Mrs. Donovan, who interferes with his practice, and the arrogant student Richard...

(The entire section is 425 words.)