All Things Bright and Beautiful

All Things Bright and Beautiful

by James Herriot

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Two years ago when we published James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small, we called it a "miracle between covers." In the first major review of the book, Alfred Ames said: "If there is any justice, All Creatures Great and Small will become a classic of its kind. The publishers call it a miracle--not too strong a word for a book that offers something for everyone: gusto, humor, pathos, information, romance, insight, style. It is vicarious living with one of the happiest and most admirable of people, a veterinary surgeon in the Yorkshire dales who can write superlatively well."

James, the miracle worker, has done it again. All Things Bright and Beautiful is precisely the warm and joyful sequel that readers all over America have been asking for. James is now married, and he and Helen live on the top floor of Skeldale House, while his former boss, now partner, Siegfried lives downstairs with Siegfried's brother Tristan. James continues the rich and rewarding day-to-day life of a small-town veterinarian, and we journey with him across the dales meeting a whole new cast of unforgettable characters--humans, dogs, horses, lambs, parakeets--all of them drawn with the same infinite fascination, affection, and insight that have made Herriot one of the most beloved authors of our time. This is the most loving book of the year to have--or to give.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780808505198
Publisher: Turtleback Books
Publication date: 07/28/1998
Series: All Creatures Great and Small Series , #2
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 4.34(w) x 6.98(h) x 1.17(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

James Herriot (1916-1995) is the bestselling author of memoirs including All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All, and Every Living Thing. At age 23, Herriot qualified for veterinary practice with the Glasgow Veterinary College, and moved to the town of Thirsk in Yorkshire to work in a rural practice. He would live in, work in, and write about the region for the rest of his life. Though he dreamed for years of writing a book, his veterinary work and his family kept him busy, and he did not start writing until the age of 50. In 1979, he was awarded the title Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Read an Excerpt

All Things Bright and Beautiful

By James Herriot


Copyright © 1974 James Herriot
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-2791-6


As I crawled into bed and put my arm around Helen it occurred to me, not for the first time, that there are few pleasures in this world to compare with snuggling up to a nice woman when you are half frozen.

There weren't any electric blankets in the thirties. Which was a pity because nobody needed the things more than country vets. It is surprising how deeply bone-marrow cold a man can get when he is dragged from his bed in the small hours and made to strip off in farm buildings when his metabolism is at a low ebb. Often the worst part was coming back to bed; I often lay exhausted for over an hour, longing for sleep but kept awake until my icy limbs and feet had thawed out.

But since my marriage such things were but a dark memory. Helen stirred in her sleep—she had got used to her husband leaving her in the night and returning like a blast from the North Pole—and instinctively moved nearer to me. With a sigh of thankfulness I felt the blissful warmth envelop me and almost immediately the events of the last two hours began to recede into unreality.

It had started with the aggressive shrilling of the bedside phone at one a.m. And it was Sunday morning, a not unusual time for some farmers after a late Saturday night to have a look round their stock and decide to send for the vet

This time it was Harold Ingledew. And it struck me right away that he would have just about had time to get back to his farm after his ten pints at the Four Horse Shoes where they weren't too fussy about closing time.

And there was a significant slurr in the thin croak of his voice.

"I'ave a ewe amiss. Will you come?"

"Is she very bad?" In my semi-conscious state I always clung to the faint hope that one night somebody would say it would wait till morning. It had never happened yet and it didn't happen now: Mr. Ingledew was not to be denied.

"Aye, she's in a bad way. She'll have to have summat done for 'er soon."

Not a minute to lose, I thought bitterly. But she had probably been in a bad way all the evening when Harold was out carousing.

Still, there were compensations. A sick sheep didn't present any great threat. It was worst when you had to get out of bed facing the prospect of a spell of sheer hard labour in your enfeebled state. But in this case I was confident that I would be able to adopt my half-awake technique; which meant simply that I would be able to go out there and deal with the emergency and return between the sheets while still enjoying many of the benefits of sleep.

There was so much night work in country practice that I had been compelled to perfect this system as, I suspect, had many of my fellow practitioners. I had done some sterling work while in a somnambulistic limbo.

So, eyes closed, I tiptoed across the carpet and pulled on my working clothes. I effortlessly accomplished the journey down the long flights of stairs but when I opened the side door the system began to crumble, because even in the shelter of the high-walled garden the wind struck at me with savage force. It was difficult to stay asleep. In the yard as I backed out of the garage the high branches of the elms groaned in the darkness as they bent before the blast.

Driving from the town I managed to slip back into my trance and my mind played lazily with the phenomenon of Harold Ingledew. This drinking of his was so out of character. He was a tiny mouse of a man about seventy years old and when he came into the surgery on an occasional market day it was difficult to extract more than a few muttered words from him. Dressed in his best suit, his scrawny neck protruding from a shirt collar several sizes too big for him, he was the very picture of a meek and solid citizen; the watery blue eyes and fleshless cheeks added to the effect and only the brilliant red colouration of the tip of his nose gave any hint of other possibilities.

His fellow smallholders in Therby village were all steady characters and did not indulge beyond a social glass of beer now and then, and his next door neighbour had been somewhat bitter when he spoke to me a few weeks ago.

"He's nowt but a bloody nuisance is awd Harold."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, every Saturday night and every market night he's up roarin' and singin' till four o'clock in the mornin'."

"Harold Ingledew? Surely not! He's such a quiet little chap."

"Aye, he is for the rest of t'week."

"But I can't imagine him singing."

"You should live next door to 'im, Mr. Herriot. He makes a 'ell of a racket. There's no sleep for anybody till he settles down."

Since then I had heard from another source that this was perfectly true and that Mrs. Ingledew tolerated it because her husband was entirely submissive at all other times.

The road to Therby had a few sharp little switchbacks before it dipped to the village and looking down I could see the long row of silent houses curving away to the base of the fell which by day hung in peaceful green majesty over the huddle of roofs but now bulked black and menacing under the moon.

As I stepped from the car and hurried round to the back of the house the wind caught at me again, jerking me to wakefulness as though somebody had thrown a bucket of water over me. But for a moment I forgot the cold in the feeling of shock as the noise struck me. Singing ... loud raucous singing echoing around the old stones of the yard.

It was coming from the lighted kitchen window.


I looked inside and saw little Harold sitting with his stockinged feet extended towards the dying embers of the fire while one hand clutched a bottle of brown ale.

"AND THE FLICKERING SHADOWS SOFTLY COME AND GO!" He was really letting it rip, head back, mouth wide.

I thumped on the kitchen door.

"THOUGH THE HEART BE WEARY, SAD THE DAY AND LONG!" replied Harold's reedy tenor and I banged impatiently at the woodwork again.

The noise ceased and I waited an unbelievably long time till I heard the key turning and the bolt rattling back. The little man pushed his nose out and gave me a questioning look.

"I've come to see your sheep," I said.

"Oh aye." He nodded curtly with none of his usual diffidence. "Ah'll put me boots on." He banged the door in my face and I heard the bolt shooting home.

Taken aback as I was I realised that he wasn't being deliberately rude. Bolting the door was proof that he was doing everything mechanically. But for all that he had left me standing in an uncharitable spot. Vets will tell you that there are corners in farm yards which are colder than any hill top and I was in one now. Just beyond the kitchen door was a stone archway leading to the open fields and through this black opening there whistled a Siberian draught which cut effortlessly through my clothes.

I had begun to hop from one foot to the other when the singing started again.


Horrified, I rushed back to the window. Harold was back in his chair, pulling on a vast boot and taking his time about it. As he bellowed he poked owlishly at the lace holes and occasionally refreshed himself from the bottle of brown ale.

I tapped on the window. "Please hurry, Mr. Ingledew."

"WHERE WE USED TO SIT AND DREAM, NELLIE DEAN!" bawled Harold in response.

My teeth had begun to chatter before he got both boots on but at last he reappeared in the doorway.

"Come on then," I gasped. "Where is this ewe? Have you got her in one of these boxes?"

The old man raised his eyebrows. "Oh, she's not 'ere."

"Not here?"

"Nay, she's up at t'top buildings."

"Right back up the road, you mean?"

"Aye, ah stopped off on t'way home and had a look at 'er."

I stamped and rubbed my hands. "Well, we'll have to drive back up. But there's no water, is there? You'd better bring a bucket of warm water, some soap and a towel."

"Very good." He nodded solemnly and before I knew what was happening the door was slammed shut and bolted and I was alone again in the darkness. I trotted immediately to the window and was not surprised to see Harold seated comfortably again. He leaned forward and lifted the kettle from the hearth and for a dreadful moment I thought he was going to start heating the water on the ashes of the fire. But with a gush of relief I saw him take hold of a ladle and reach into the primitive boiler in the old black grate.

"AND THE WATERS AS THEY FLOW SEEM TO MURMUR SWEET AND LOW!" he warbled, happy at his work, as he unhurriedly filled a bucket

I think he had forgotten I was there when he finally came out because he looked at me blankly as he sang.

"YOU'RE MY HEARTS DESIRE, I LOVE YOU, NELLIE DEAN!" he informed me at the top of his voice.

"All right, all right," I grunted. "Let's go." I hurried him into the car and we set off on the way I had come.

Harold held the bucket at an angle on his lap, and as we went over the switchbacks the water slopped gently on to my knee. The atmosphere in the car soon became so highly charged with beer fumes that I began to feel lightheaded.

"In 'ere!" the old man barked suddenly as a gate appeared in the headlights. I pulled on to the grass verge and stood on one leg for a few moments till I had shaken a surplus pint or two of water from my trousers. We went through the gate and I began to hurry towards the dark bulk of the hillside barn, but I noticed that Harold wasn't following me. He was walking aimlessly around the field.

"What are you doing, Mr. Ingledew?"

"Lookin' for t'ewe."

"You mean she's outside?" I repressed an impulse to scream.

"Aye, she lambed this afternoon and ah thowt she'd be right enough out 'ere." He produced a torch, a typical farmer's torch—tiny and with a moribund battery—and projected a fitful beam into the darkness. It made not the slightest difference.

As I stumbled across the field a sense of hopelessness assailed me. Above, the ragged clouds scurried across the face of the moon but down here I could see nothing. And it was so cold. The recent frosts had turned the ground to iron and the crisp grass cowered under the piercing wind. I had just decided that there was no way of finding an animal in this black wasteland when Harold piped up.

"She's over'ere."

And sure enough when I groped my way towards the sound of his voice he was standing by an unhappy looking ewe. I don't know what instinct had brought him to her but there she was. And she was obviously in trouble; her head hung down miserably and when I put my hand on her fleece she took only a few faltering steps instead of galloping off as a healthy sheep would. Beside her, a tiny lamb huddled close to her flank.

I lifted her tail and took her temperature. It was normal. There were no signs of the usual post-lambing ailments; no staggering to indicate a deficiency, no discharge or accelerated respirations. But there was something very far wrong.

I looked again at the lamb. He was an unusually early arrival in this high country and it seemed unfair to bring the little creature into the inhospitable world of a Yorkshire March. And he was so small ... yes ... yes ... it was beginning to filter through to me. He was too damn small for a single lamb.

"Bring me that bucket, Mr. Ingledew!" I cried. I could hardly wait to see if I was right. But as I balanced the receptacle on the grass the full horror of the situation smote me. I was going to have to strip off.

They don't give vets medals for bravery but as I pulled off my overcoat and jacket and stood shivering in my shirt sleeves on that black hillside I felt I deserved one.

"Hold her head," I gasped and soaped my arm quickly. By the light of the torch I felt my way into the vagina and I didn't have to go very far before I found what I expected; a woolly little skull. It was bent downwards with the nose under the pelvis and the legs were back.

"There's another lamb in here," I said. "It's laid wrong or it would have been born with its mate this afternoon."

Even as I spoke my fingers had righted the presentation and I drew the little creature gently out and deposited him on the grass. I hadn't expected him to be alive after his delayed entry but as he made contact with the cold ground his limbs gave a convulsive twitch and almost immediately I felt his ribs heaving under my hand.

For a moment I forgot the knife-like wind in the thrill which I always found in new life, the thrill that was always fresh, always warm. The ewe, too, seemed stimulated because in the darkness I felt her nose pushing interestedly at the new arrival.

But my pleasant ruminations were cut short by a scuffling from behind me and some muffled words.

"Bugger it!" mumbled Harold.

"What's the matter?"

"Ah've kicked bucket ower."

"Oh no! Is the water all gone?"

"Aye, nowt left."

Well this was great. My arm was smeared with mucus after being inside the ewe. I couldn't possibly put my jacket on without a wash.

Harold's voice issued again from the darkness. "There's some watter ower at building."

"Oh good. We've got to get this ewe and lambs over there anyway." I threw my clothes over my shoulder, tucked a lamb under each arm and began to blunder over the tussocks of grass to where I thought the barn lay. The ewe, clearly feeling better without her uncomfortable burden, trotted behind me.

It was Harold again who had to give me directions.

"Ower 'ere!" he shouted.

When I reached the barn I cowered thankfully behind the massive stones. It was no night for a stroll in shirt sleeves. Shaking uncontrollably I peered at the old man. I could just see his form in the last faint radiance of the torch and I wasn't quite sure what he was doing. He had lifted a stone from the pasture and was bashing something with it; then I realised he was bending over the water trough, breaking the ice.

When he had finished he plunged the bucket into the trough and handed it to me.

"There's your watter," he said triumphantly.

I thought I had reached the ultimate in frigidity but when I plunged my hands into the black liquid with its floating icebergs I changed my mind. The torch had finally expired and I lost the soap very quickly. When I found I was trying to work up a lather with one of the pieces of ice I gave it up and dried my arms.

Somewhere nearby I could hear Harold humming under his breath, as comfortable as if he was by his own fireside. The vast amount of alcohol surging through his blood stream must have made him impervious to the cold.

We pushed the ewe and lambs into the barn which was piled high with hay and before leaving I struck a match and looked down at the little sheep and her new family settled comfortably among the fragrant clover. They would be safe and warm in there till morning.

My journey back to the village was less hazardous because the bucket on Harold's knee was empty. I dropped him outside his house then I had to drive to the bottom of the village to turn; and as I came past the house again the sound forced its way into the car.


I stopped, wound the window down and listened in wonder. It was incredible how the noise reverberated around the quiet street and if it went on till four o'clock in the morning as the neighbours said, then they had my sympathy.


It struck me suddenly that I could soon get tired of Harold's singing. His volume was impressive but for all that he would never be in great demand at Covent Garden; he constantly wavered off key and there was a grating quality in his top notes which set my teeth on edge.


Hurriedly I wound the window up and drove off. As the heaterless car picked its way between the endless flitting pattern of walls I crouched in frozen immobility behind the wheel. I had now reached the state of total numbness and I can't remember much about my return to the yard at Skeldale House, nor my automatic actions of putting away the car, swinging shut the creaking doors of what had once been the old coach house, and trailing slowly down the long garden.

But a realisation of my blessings began to return when I slid into bed and Helen, instead of shrinking away from me as it would have been natural to do, deliberately draped her feet and legs over the human ice block that was her husband. The bliss was unbelievable. It was worth getting out just to come back to this.

I glanced at the luminous dial of the alarm clock. It was three o'clock and as the warmth flowed over me and I drifted away, my mind went back to the ewe and lambs, snug in their scented barn. They would be asleep now, I would soon be asleep, everybody would be asleep.

Except, that is, Harold Ingledew's neighbours. They still had an hour to go.


Excerpted from All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot. Copyright © 1974 James Herriot. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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All Things Bright and Beautiful 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
CharlesNRupert More than 1 year ago
James Herriot details again, in his second of four anthologies, the hectic life of the Yorkshire country vet. On an artfully written trip down memory lane, Herriot takes the reader to visit once again his days with his veterinary partner Siegfried, but also to his suit and marriage of his wife Helen and all the way to his earliest days involved in WWII. Again, Herriot recalls case upon case from a quiet old man with a ewe only yet half-lambed, to a calving he only half remembered through the haze of alcohol, to his various small animal patients which he held so much dearer. Herriot’s, and his patients’, perseverance becomes a theme throughout the novel as time and again, with some heart and a little luck, they may recover suddenly and inexplicably from a fatal disease or debilitating wound or break. In Herriot’s case, nowhere else is the theme as prevalent as in his suit of Helen, which doomed by the universe to make him only a fool; however, his refusal to give up eventually proves to himself and the world at large that he is indeed worthy of her, despite his wealth (or lack thereof) and seeming lack of potential in his field. I absolutely love this and each of Herriot’s other works as-well. He is able to grab his readers with the comedy and warmth of his stories, then suddenly wrench out their heart with a tragedy which he will remember oh-so-well. Every single page simply mandates that it be turned and the reader continue through the heartwarming and terrifying emotional rollercoaster Herriot provides. One of my favorite parts of Herriot’s novels that makes them so unique, is that he is able to explain each disease of an animal and it’s cure so well that the reader can well understand the plight or ease he may face in treating it, and yet so concisely that it does not impede the story’s progress and thrill. The only complaint that I may ever have about his novels, in fact, may be that, on occasion, the language Herriot uses in dialogue can require some deciphering. And though this may be his way to insert accents and increase the authenticity of the setting, it can become frustrating to read the same two lines five or six times in order to understand some farmer’s aimless babblings. I personally believe that there is no reason that one should not read this, or any of Herriot’s other three novels from the series. Whether you need a non-fiction novel for school, or simply want some light-hearted relief, Herriot provides the answer to these and more in this and each work he produced. Beyond Herriot’s other works, however, I would most recommend Troubling a Star, by Madeleine L’Engle and the Lost Years of Merlin epic by T.A. Barron. Neither of these works have I recommended for any specific relation to Herriot’s novels, rather, merely because they are the only works that I have found as generally appealing.
lifebuilder4him More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with these books as a child and young teenager through my Grandmother. She began bringing them home when I was young and we loved them together for years.
Now she has past on but she gave all here original hardback copies to me and I will treasure them always.
I have begun giving them to my daughter who desires to be a veterinarian.
For all ages this series of books is wholesome, funny, heart-warming and captivating. I will always have a deep love for the characters of this series and feel that I know them as if we were truly family.
I would that all would look back to simpler times through this series and enjoy the wonderful writing and share in the tales of Yorkshire.
EdnaMole More than 1 year ago
All Creatures Great and Small is one of my favorite books of all time. So I was anxious to see whether the follow-up book, All Things Bright and Beautiful would be as good as the first. I was not disappointed! These books are immensely enjoyable to read. You can definitely feel Mr. Herriot's love for his profession and for Yorkshire. The stories and characters are very entertaining and you find yourself smiling throughout the book. I highly recommend this book to all animal-lovers and anyone who wants to imagine a very different life from the hustle-bustle of today.
DaveLaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
collection of anecdotal animal storuies from the life of James Herriott (Alf Wight). Often hilarious, sometimes poignant the stories bring to life the world of pre-world war 2 rural Yorkshire. I have often laughed out loud at some of the stories and I would strongly recommend to anyone who wants a "happy" read.
kurtankenybeauchamp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Again, another charming set of stories from James Herriot. I liked this one and didn't find the stories to be as repetitive as the last volume. I still think this is one of those things best read a chapter per night to the little ones in the house. But, as we don't have any little ones just yet, that will have to wait.
sylvester2u on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I discovered Herriot's books several years ago. He has since become my all time favorite author! I have collected all of his adult books in hardcover and purchased all of the childrens works for my children. Wonderful storyteller for animal lovers. You cannot go wrong with any one of his books.
kurtankeny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Again, another charming set of stories from James Herriot. I liked this one and didn't find the stories to be as repetitive as the last volume. I still think this is one of those things best read a chapter per night to the little ones in the house. But, as we don't have any little ones just yet, that will have to wait.
love2readallday More than 1 year ago
Read this book long ago and am going to read it again. Used to read his stories to my mother as she lost her eyesight. Was a bright spot in our days.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book and wonderful peek into the lives of those who lived and farmed in the Scottish Highlands.
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James harriot demonstraits the work of a true writer when he wrote this book. Please snuggle up somewhere and get lost in the world of old english vets.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
These are the kind of books that teach you good moral values and you don't even know it. You get done reading & you just want to be a better person. They are enjoyable, easy, entertaining reading. You will laugh & cry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My favorite veterinarian does it again with another great book about serving animals and God in his own special way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In ¿All Things Bright and Beautiful,¿ James Herriot describes life as a veterinarian in England. He goes in to great detail about the stories of the animals he saves and about the hardship that his job brings. When he talks about the visit he makes to the farmers houses, he explains in detail about what he does to the animals and about he thinks they are feeling and how he feels when he is working. He talks about what the farmers are like. Most of them do not treat him with very much respect: they take him for granted. At the end of the book, he explains how the times are changing and old remedies for sickness in livestock where being taken over by these new vaccines and veterinary practices are going to be changed forever. Herriot writes the book from his own experiences which is more interesting because that way the author makes the reader feel closer to the book. Herriot almost puts the reader in his shoes. Readers feel every ounce of depression when the animal does not make it, all the excitement when the animals do make it we even feel tired and cold when Herriot gets up in the middle of the night in the middle of the winter to help an animal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Herriott's books are all incredible. This one fills out the bouquet of wonderful stories. His imagery and way with words paints a picture as vivid as all outdoors of the people and animals in Yorkshire and other areas of Great Britain. Get comfy and just slip into a good book, this one is the fine cognac of all good animal books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Picks a nest and set a talc rock in it with a picture of an oak and the earth carved into the soft stone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She pads into the warrior's den and curls up in her nest, then falls asleep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*pads in and lays down, wishing Stormtail was with her.* ~Whitefoot