Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Lord God Made Them All, James Herriot includes a series of narratives that recount his veterinary practice from just after World War II until the early 1960’s. Although this general time frame does somewhat limit his book, time is not truly an ordering force in this autobiography, the chapters of which typically consist of one or more cases that complement or complete a theme. This structure is interspersed with accounts of his veterinary work with an exporting company, which all begin with an identifying date from the early 1960’s. Herriot’s final chapter does overtly treat what has been a subliminal message throughout the book: The postwar years when his two children were growing up were the best years of his life.

One recurring feature of the book is its reference to changes that have taken place since the episodes recounted. At the same time that Herriot describes an encounter with an old farm woman named Grandma Clarke that took place in 1952, for example, he notes that he and his wife are preparing to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary. Herriot also breaks his chronology two more times in references to his son and daughter by revealing their careers as adults. These overt reminders of the present as in opposition to the past serve to lessen the distance between the reader and the writer, further personalizing these short narratives.

The book repeats the structure of telling stories about other people and...

(The entire section is 492 words.)