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Vet on Call: My First Year as an Out-of-Hours Vet Paperback – 3 Mar 2011
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"Affectionate, funny ... so sweet-natured that it makes you want to hug him" (Daily Mail)
"A mixture of hilarity and heartbreak told with great charm and insight" (The Bookseller)
"I read it cover to cover in one day. Like any good writer, he achieves the right mix of humour and pathos to keep us interested, and his pacing is second to none - hence why I couldn't stop reading, even at the end of the chapter!" (dogsinthenews.co.uk)
"The people's vet" (Clare Balding)
"A fantastic vet" (Joanna Page (Stacey from Gavin and Stacey))
About the Author
Marc Abraham BVM&S MRCVS is veterinary advisor to the Kennel Club of Great Britain, and has judged a range of charity dog shows including Battersea Dogs Home and The Mayhew Animal Home and is also the resident vet on ITV's This Morning. He also regularly gives pet advice on BBC Breakfast and other TV shows. His series My Pet Shame with Joanna Page is on Sky One and in 2010 he also presented Crufts with Clare Balding on More 4. He also writes a column for national canine newspaper Our Dogs and has a monthly phone in as resident vet on BBC Sussex Radio. He is co-founder of www.thepet.net and his own website is www.marcthevet.com. In 2007, Marc was voted 'the UK's Favourite Vet' by the British public, in the form of the Petplan Special Recognition Award.
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As a writer, though? No. This is a terrible book. It's badly put together with careless continuity (at one point Ruth has a mug of tea, the next sentence it's changed to a bottle of water), and some of the anecdotes are left unfinished so we never find out what happens (the couple with the yorkie, for example). His sentence structure is appalling, and sketchy use of grammar makes it difficult to understand at times who is doing what and to whom. There seems to have been a half-hearted effort - in spite of it nominally being autobiographical - to make it up-to-date and having taken place in the last year or so, when clearly it must have been longer ago given Marc's blossoming TV career.
The thing is that I really wanted to like this book; I love a good animal anecdote and a heartwarming and/or tragic pet story. I've even given it two stars for effort. I think I could have loved this book, in fact, if it had benefited from more judicious editing and proof-reading. In its current form, however, it is best avoided. I want to try his new book just to see if the editing situation has improved... But I'm not sure I can cope with the disappointment if not.
But that's not to say that the book is dull - in fact, I read it cover to cover in one day because I couldn't put it down. Marc successfully weaves ongoing sagas around little vignettes of encounters with miscellaneous clients, as well as telling the story of his own struggle to adjust to his new nocturnal lifestyle. He includes enough information about his personal life to flesh out his `character' and give his reader a real sense of who he is, but without divulging too much.
Along the way, he includes some advice on good pet care, and how not to buy a car!
There are also a few brief glimpses into the more negative sides of being a vet, including a tragic accident which leads to the death of a horse. Marc is not afraid to focus on the realities of his year in emergency surgery, rather than just romanticising it. Like any good writer, he achieves the right mix of humour and pathos to keep us interested, and his pacing is second to none - hence why I couldn't stop reading, even at the end of the chapter! That said, it is the kind of book that you could dip in and out of between busy times if you needed to.
Unlike James Herriot, these are the stories of what it is like to be a modern vet. Because of this, I personally would have liked to have found out what happened to the work experience student Marc takes under his wing; does he decide that veterinary practice is for him? This volume does a pretty good job of portraying - albeit briefly - a modern family, too, in the form of snippets of telephone conversations and emails from his well meaning but nagging parents.
This book also precursors Marc's current role as a campaigner for animal issues: when he refuses to carry out surgery to give a German Shepherd a fake testicle just to help it do well in the show ring, you know he is a man of solid principles. And he genuinely cares about his patients (and their owners) too, which is demonstrated when he performs a caesarean on a gerbil against all the odds, because he recognized that she was more than `just an animal' to the lady who cared for her. (As an aside, Marc is also a very nice guy when you meet him in person, and his favourite breed of dog is the Borzoi.)
What this book will not tell you is how Marc went from lowly out of hours vet to the man in the blue scrubs gracing our television screens, but I'm sure that'll be covered in the next volume. I, for one, hope there will be many many more.
Well worth reading - 5*!
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