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Did not live up to the hype
on 1 December 2013
There is no doubting the fact that Clare Balding is a top bird; I like her as a television presenter, and she comes across as a thoroughly nice woman on her Twitter feed. I like celebrity autobiographies too and when this one was so highly praised and was such a big seller, I thought I would enjoy reading. I like animals, but I am not obsessed by them and do not currently own any. I also enjoy a day at the races once in a while, but I am certainly not a horsey person. About a quarter of the way through this book I realised that I may not be the sort of person that this book will appeal to.
I spent my early childhood in Berkshire so at least I recognised some of the places described in the book. It is well written and parts of it are very amusing (the breakfast sausage unintentionally launched in the direction of The Queen is a particularly hilarious anecdote). However, despite the warm-hearted intentions, I could not ignore the underlying sadness of Clare Balding’s childhood. She clearly has fond memories of growing up, but I'm not convinced that being brought up by dogs and horses is preferable to having attentive parents.
Initially, the device of building each chapter around recollections of a particular dog or horse seems original and endearing but by the time I was half-way through the book I found it irritating. For my personal taste, this book dealt with the first 16 years of the author's life in rather too much detail and then just as her life began to get interesting, the book finished. I would love their to have been more chapters about her experiences at university and her early career rather than the brief summary contained in the epilogue. Perhaps there will be another installment?