Straight in at the deep end, Anna faces two tricky calvings, an emergency call-out to a frightened mare, lots of mad cats (and mad cat women) and one enormous dog with an injured leg and a threatening bark. Spirited and determined, Anna quickly finds her feet and falls in love with rural life, including Ebbourne's eccentric characters and their animals.
Disasters, dramas, farmers and friendship - and not to mention a whirlwind romance with a local Wildlife Trust worker - this warm and witty memoir offers a window into what working with animals and country life is really all about.
Comparisons with James Herriot are hard to avoid (especially as he is Anna’s hero) but this first book by Anna Birch comes out well to my mind. She has an engaging writing style which makes you feel as though you are there with her through her trials and tribulations of her first year in practice.
The action starts as soon as Anna arrives in the village of Ebbourne – two calvings are her
introduction to the story of the mixed practice she has joined, although confusingly, these are not chronological. She soon overcomes her initial uncertainties and finds her feet and her role in this rural community. Both the people and the animals are well depicted and Anna has an obvious love for both – and an ability to always see the funny side of things.
A vet’s life is certainly not all glamour – we see what a hard slog it can be and how much we owe to these dedicated people. We are presented with a rural community facing many changes and adapting to them and we learn how resilient people can be. Of course, there is sadness – it would not be true to life without - but overall this is an uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable read. It may well make pet owners think about their own animals too – the case of an obese animal springs to mind – and that can only be a plus.
I hope this will be a successful start to a series as I would love to read more of Anna’s life and see how the animals in her care progress.
I'd like to thank Alice at Virgin Books for sending me a copy of this book to review and Sarah for reviewing it for me.