All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: James Herriot

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

One of the first great adventures as an adult is our first job. That experience (at least from my perspective) forever stays with us, regardless of how long our resumes become.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name), James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) is a newly licensed veterinarian who is eager to prove his worth in 1930s England. He arrives at the home and practice of Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), hoping that Dr. Farnon will hire him.

Dr. Farnon is quite a character and would test the patience of the most understanding of people. He nearly goes home without a job, but the housekeeper, Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) convinces her boss to give James a chance.

He is also helped by Siegfried’s carefree and sometimes less than practical younger brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse). He is the yin to James’s yang in terms of temperament, perspective, and professional outlook.

Over the course of his employment, James becomes a respected veterinarian, appreciated by his colleagues and the community. Though he has the option of returning home to Scotland, he stays in Yorkshire. He is also infatuated with Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton). But Helen is spoken for. Hugh Holton (Matthew Lewis) is a local boy who is the son of the landed gentry. Eventually, Helen and Hugh go their separate ways, opening the door for James’s wish to become reality. When we last saw James, he had it all. A solid career, a fiance, and a future.

But World War II is on the horizon. He doesn’t know it yet, but everything that he knows is about to change.

To sum it up: James is an everyman. He doesn’t want much. He wants a career he loves, a family to come home to, and a place in this world to call his own. He has all that and so much more. But before he can get there, he has to go through a few growing pains along the way.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

A Duke by Default Book Review

Not everyone is born with the knowledge of what they want to do with their lives. Some travel on a figurative winding path before making this discovery.

The 2018 romance novel A Duke by Default, by Alyssa Cole, is the second book in the Reluctant Royals Series. At the age of thirty, New York City Socialite Portia Hobbs has yet to settle down, in both the professional and romantic sense. Feeling like she is a disappointment to everyone around her, Portia applies and is accepted for an apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland.

Tavish McKenzie does not help running his armory, especially from a woman like Portia. Even if she is willing to get her hands figuratively dirty in running the business. His first response is to give Portia busy work while fighting his attraction to her. Their relationship, both in and out of the office shifts when she discovers that Tavish is the heir to a dukedom.

Turning Tavish into a gentleman is the easy part. Dealing with the media onslaught and their burgeoning romance is another thing entirely.

I enjoyed this book. Cole writes in a way that combines the natural elements of the genre and modern narrative that does not feel predictable. Obviously, the reader knows how the story is going to end. Tavish and Portia are such interesting characters that I was immediately hooked. I also appreciated that Portia is not just looking for love, she just found it along the way of finding herself.

Do I recommend it? Yes

A Duke by Default is avaliable wherever books are sold.

Outlander Review

The narrative of a stranger in a strange land is one of humanities oldest stories.

Outlander (based on the books of the same name by Diana Gabaldon) premiered on Starz back in 2014. In post World War II Scotland, former British military nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is enjoying a second honeymoon with husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). Then somehow, she is sent back two hundred years in the past. In order to survive, she marries Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

Can she return to her own time and if she can’t, what changes must she make to adapt?

I am presently about 2/3rds of the way though the first season. Though I never read the books and cannot make any comparisons to the series, I am enjoying it. It has elements of the different genres that play well together to create a story that is engaging and very entertaining.

I absolutely recommend it.

Outlander is now streaming on Netflix.

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