Monday, November 17, 2014

Revisiting James Herriot

Yesterday afternoon as I snuggled down under my warming throw with a cup of hot cocoa, I picked up James Herriot's Yorkshire Revisited. I'm not a particularly nostalgic person, but James Herriot can bring out some rampant nostalgia in me.

I read all four of Herriot books at least twenty-five years ago after we first were introduced to him through PBS's All Creatures Great and Small series which aired every Sunday evening. So I always equate watching the shows with Sunday nights. That's why I picked up his Yorkshire Revisited yesterday - on Sunday.

James Herriot was author Alfred Wight's pen name and preferred to remain anonymous and secretive about the actual places he described. I suspect he didn't want to spoil these favorite vistas with the possibility of increased visitation from his readers.

Jim Wight, Alfred's son, writes the introduction to this picture book. From the first paragraph, he has composed a couple of most beautiful sentences.

"I gazed at the view with feelings of pleasure mixed with deep appreciation. I have stood here on many occasions, and familiarity with the surrounding scenery has done little to dampen the surge of excitement it generate in me." 
And then, Wight the senior -- writing as James Herriot in All Things Bright and Beautiful,
"I hadn't thought it possible that I could spend all my days in a high, clean-blown land where the scent of grass or trees was never far away; and where even in the driving rain of winter I could snuff the air and find the freshness of growing things hidden somewhere in the cold clasp of winter. My work consisted now of driving from farm to farm across the roof of England with a growing conviction that I was a privileged person."
For these reasons, I moved the first book in the series, All Creatures Great and Small, into my Winter Reading Challenge. I've decided it's time to revisit these wonderful books.

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