This is my chapter by chapter review of 'if only they could talk', the book that launched my fascination of the one and only James herriot.
Ch.1. The opening chapter starts with the best hook paragraph I have ever read "They did'nt say anything about this in the books I thought, as the snow blew in through the gaping doorway and settled on my naked back" , he then goes onto descibe in painstaking detail a bad calving with dour Mr dinsdale and the indomitable know-it-all uncle who owns a farm in listondale and who's own cattle is seen to by the amazing vet Mr broomfield. James then describes a battle of wits between the two of them with the cow struggling in the middle. It seems that uncle with his vast experience must surely come out the winner and indeed 2 hours into the battle james is all but beat, but the miracle of life wins through, the cow calves and it would seem uncle has been thwarted but he does get the last dig in when Mr dinsdale says "how about a drink", james absolutely shattered says "yes please" but Mr dinsdale meant a drink for the cow, when james sheepishly agrees that a drink would be beneficial for the cow uncle pipes up with the immortal line "Mr Broomfield doesnt believe in giving a drink after calving, says it chills the stomach". The first chapter is a wonderful start and sets the tone for the rest of the book.