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Friday, 19 July 2013

Review: Vet on the Loose.

Vet on the Loose
Gillian Hick

I wanted to like this book. 
I love James Herriot and was delighted by the prospect of finding his female counterpart. Unfortunately I just couldn't warm to Gillian Hick, it seemed to me that she had a perpetual axe to grind. Farmers were misogynistic idiots, pet owners were either bimbos who shouldn't have been let anywhere near an animal or just plain unpleasant. 
While I understand that the 'lady vet' no doubt met a lot of rotten clients who should never have been able to look after another living thing, it seems strange to me that those were the cases she chose to write about. Surely there must have been some more upbeat stories she could have related??? It just seemed a little unbalanced; too much of the bad stuff that had happened and not enough of the good. 
The whole 'when's the real vet coming?' gag was funny... for the first few stories, but it got old pretty quick. After a while it started to sound less like humour and a lot more like bitterness. Which again, I can understand, but it didn't make for fun reading.
The thing is that when you read James Herriot, however obnoxious the owner/farmer is being to him, James always paints himself in a ridiculous light. He's always inadvertently made a fool of himself in some way and THAT was why it's so funny. You feel for him because you know that he knows what he's talking about, it's just that something he's done is making him look silly. Like the story where he's trying to deliver a calf and the cow is in difficulties. Everything's going wrong, the farmers are losing patience: yet what is James worrying about??? The fact that he added and over generous helping of his landladies bath salts to his bath water, and now with all his exertion, he's giving off a strongly feminine scent!!!
You really feel for James Herriot, but you can't help but laugh at him just the same. 
I never felt that with Gillian Hick. I didn't feel sorry for her: her stories were a thin layer of humour, that by the end of the book, had pealed away to show an underlying thread of resentment. Like I said, it's understandable, just not very entertaining. I kind of came away with the idea that she didn't really like her job at all.
Obviously this is all just my personal opinion and, like all opinions, it might be completely different to yours. So by all means, give the book a try. ;-D

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