An Armful of Animals Paperback – 1 Sept. 2018
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I read his 3 previous books back to back and chuckled at the antics and scrapes that Paul the young vet got up to. Think all creatures great and small but a more modern version.
Well then came the authors memoir “ An armful of Animals”. Malcolm’s early experiences in Africa as a child gave him the inspiration to become a vet.
Malcolm’s encounters with snakes, ants and parrots give his story an exotic edge. His love for his dog poucher had him helping to put the dog back together after a severe mauling by a wild beast. I cried real tears when I read that whilst still only a child Malcolm had to leave his faithful hound behind when his family came back to the uk. Poucher saved Malcolm’s mother’s life and the story makes scary reading.
After being a qualified vet for only one year Malcolm sets out to operate on his other childhood pet, the African grey parrot.
The operating table being his mother’s Formica topped kitchen table, Malcolm sets about removing the tumour that is preventing the bird from eating and is threatening to choke it.
The love that Malcolm obviously has his own pets has meant that his compassion for all gods critters is spilled out across the pages of this beautifully written book.
Birds, cats, dogs, horses, camels, snakes.........They all feature and have all been treated by Malcolm’s healing hands.
A must read if like me you love wildlife, pets and the countryside.
Persuaded by all the 5 star reviews I took a chance on this one, and am so glad I did.
It’s very funny and it’s well-written, free of any mawkish sentimentality or gruesome scenes. The style somewhat reminds me of Gerald Durrell.
We meet a range of unusual animals, including the rapidly-growing anaconda thrashing around in a basket and escaping into the rhododendrons, and the owners of these creatures, ranging from delightful and eccentric to almost intolerable. It’s all related in a light-hearted way, and story flows freely like a chuckling stream. I found it most enjoyable and shall be reading more from this author. It kept me smiling from start to finish.
A change in his father’s military posting results in the family’s return to England. Malcolm trains as a vet, and it is his career at a thriving animal hospital which is the focus for the majority of stories.
One of the facets I love most about this book is the breadth of emotions the author conveys in his observations on both humans and animals. His descriptions of beautiful scenes and horrifying situations are vivid and eloquent. Some of his veterinary cases are incredibly moving, while others made me laugh my head off. I also had to giggle at the anecdotes involving his work colleagues.
Malcolm Welshman is one of those skilled authors who can write with style and poignancy. His humour, humility and great love for all creatures shines through, the combination of which makes this a superb book, and especially so for animal lovers.
Malcolm draws on his memories of growing up and holidaying in Africa and includes stories of his own pets as well as from veterinary Practice. From a hamster with a magnetic personality to elephants, handfuls of snakes, a lame camel, cheeky talking parrots, lions, monkeys and more, all contributing to the joyful melee.
There are gardening tips too: a novel method of stopping badgers from digging up the lawn and what to do with starling chicks when they fall out of their nests!
However, it’s not just about the animals! The author’s wry observations of humanity range from the awkward know-it-all client (infuriatingly usually correct) to the charmingly-eccentric chatty twin sisters and the mishaps of their farm animals.
If you find the antics of a vet’s life interesting and amusing, especially with some of the more exotic species he encounters, this is essential reading! I’m still laughing at the timely inappropriateness of the talking parrot’s remarks!
Top international reviews
The author is as at home in the middle of the Sahara Desert as he is in Bournemouth and as comfortable – well almost! – with a poodle as with a python, with a cat as with a camel, with the familiar starling as with a tarantula with a fungal infection.
Welshman’s An Armful of Animals reads as if James Herriot had gone international and added a frolicsome and quirky sense of humour in the process.
I devoured An Armful of Animals in one sitting and still have that warm sense of being thoroughly beguiled and delighted by an expert story-teller and devoted animal-lover.
I thoroughly enjoyed a plethora of "new" words for me, such as "atimicasser", "turves", "duiker". And just what are "loose boxes"? They each contributed to the whimsical energy exuding from these tellings.
I loved the variety of themes, from superstitions to marking one’s territory, which related directly to a problem solved in our own family. Isn’t that what makes storytelling so wonderful and such a connective medium? We can all relate to parts, and get perspective, and hopefully, some humor, in retrospect. Storytelling, to me, is our way to share our values, and in AN ARMFUL OF ANIMALS, that rings so true. Respect, love, acceptance…all in there.
And then there’s the long-suffering wife, a perfect grounding constant. Well done!
Some pet owners tried his patience and I can picture them as I read his words. One lady who insisted on home visits and tended to be very opinionated, diagnosing in a know-it-all manner makes me chuckle as I write. "Her torpedo eyes and scouring-pad grey hair." She had to take her cat in to see him a few days later, her diagnosis was incorrect. Poor kitty was on the mend after he found the real problem.
I believe Malcolm's patients received excellent care and compassion. Perhaps they did know how fortunate they were, as animals can sense these things. They know when someone is trying to help them. (Maybe not the camel?) But even with the spitting camel, he was worried about his patient and relieved to see him limping along at the end of the camel train the next day. His last patient in the book and the words he chose to end it convince me they knew they were special to this vet who eased their pain.
I recommend this book to all who enjoy a great read. You won't go wrong when you choose An Armful of Animals.