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VINE VOICEon 10 September 2009
This is the best autobiography I have ever read. Beautifully written, compelling, and heart-breaking. I was moved to tears again and again as I read of McKenna's pain at losing beloved friends and family, and treasured animal friends as well.

For Born Free fans, this book has plenty of "behind the scenes" content. We learn how certain scenes were filmed, anecdotes from during the filming, and the fates of the lions used in the film. But Born Free is only a small part of McKenna's story. She writes at length of her theatre and television exploits, though this is never tedious and always interesting. Sometimes her work in television took her to extraordinary places, such as the Himalayas, and her descriptions of these are rich and vibrant.

The chapters on McKenna's work for Zoo Check, the organisation that later became the Born Free Foundation, are the ones that haunt me the most. Until reading this book, I had seen zoos as a necessary evil; now I see no reason for them to be necessary. McKenna's stance on zoos is staunch and unrelenting, as she writes of the many terrible zoos she visited, and the disturbed animals captive in them. "Don't you think a year of freedom is better than twenty in captivity?" she asks, after writing of the success of releasing into the wild three dolphins that had previously lived in aquariums in England.

Her passion for Nature, and her pain at seeing it raped so by humankind, is overwhelming. It is almost unbearable to read her words, of greed and ceaseless human cruelty. In the book are several of the poems she has written, and the one that stood out the most for me was one that talked of the seasons, then, the last two lines read: "They're cutting all the trees, Soon we won't know what the season is". I won't ever forget those words.

Much of the book is devoted to McKenna's passion for animals and nature, that's true, but no one should ever accuse her of loving them at the expense of humans. She writes lovingly of two African children she "fostered" (she gave them financial support, and sometimes visited them with gifts to help the family), and of the Gurkha campaign, which she was a staunch supporter of (I say "was" because that campaign's purpose has been fulfilled; indeed, McKenna writes this triumphantly, and it must have been one of the very last parts of the book written, considering how recently the campaign was won).

I recommend that every animal lover out there reads this. But there is a real tragedy to this book: those who need to read it the most will never, ever read it.
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on 21 May 2013
as soon as i started reading this book the pages started falling out making it impossible to carry on reading it
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on 1 October 2013
I originally bought this book in paperback form and only got to page 12 before a chunk of it fell out. I was so disappointed as I had looked forward to reading this book. I returned it to Amazon and to give them their due, they immediately gave me a refund. I then went onto the Born Free Foundation web-site and contacted them about this problem. They told me that they too had had this problem with the paperback and had returned all the affected copies. I then decided to buy the hard-copy as all the funds would go to the Born Free foundation and when I read this book I was entranced. It is beautifully written, kept me enthralled, made me shed a few tears, but also made me smile. Virginia McKenna is a very special person (as was Bill Travers) - even though I never met them I love them both. I only wish I had their strength of character to do more for this world.
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on 9 September 2012
The Life in My YearsThe Life in My Years is excellent - well worth ordering. Virginia McKenna tells her story beautifully; informatively regarding the animals in their wild state and in detail the programme she and her husband Bill started, and which is continuing today.
Also interesting was her recount of her life with her family, and her life as an actress.

I ordered a paperback copy and the very minute I opened I was aghast at the handful of pages that came out. I am so careful with all of my books so it was not due to bad handling; I feel it has to be a problem that the publishers/printers should be informed of.
I am certain Miss McKenna would not be happy about this if indeed it is happening with all paper-back purchases.

I have finished the book - and a super read it was, but sadly more pages fell out during the course of my read.
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on 20 May 2011
I bought a copy of this book for my Mother at Easter. As soon as she opened it the opening pages fell out. Sent it back to Amazon and got another one very quickly. The final pages in this new book fell out. Very poorly made, such a shame and now having sent that one back I never got to read it myself. However my Mother did and loved it - an amazing woman and an amazing life.
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I live overseas and find Amazon very useful for buying books in English. I ordered this hard back, signed copy and when it arrived I was very satisifed. THe only problem was that I didn't recieve it until May 27th longer than expected but this is proberble due to postal service in the country I am residence in. I havn't had a chance to start reading yet but first glance at the book it is all and more than I expected . A great access to my private library. A little expensive but worth it for me.
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on 1 October 2009
I am going to see Virginia McKenna at the Cheltenham Lit Festival soon and bought this book to read beforehand. The book is varied in that it jumps from subject to subject and does not follow an expected timeline starting at her childhood and coming up to date. Instead there are many chapters relating to various subjects - her films, theatre work, family, friends and her wildlife rescues. In some ways I liked this but in others I might have preferred the story of her life stated in order of happening. Alternatively, the way it is presented makes it easy to pick up and put down soit doesn't matter if you forgot what happened beforehand. Ms McKenna is obviously a vey caring and sensative person and I can't wait so meet her in person to see how she comes across in the flesh.
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on 1 September 2009
Firstly, let me say that I love and admire Virginia. She has had, and probably is still having, a wonderful life. She has done so much for animals and loves them deeply, as I do myself. However, the book was a disappointment, as I kept getting distracted by the continual bad punctuation, and grammatical errors. Also, I found she would fast forward and mention places and people that I had yet to learn about, so it could be a bit confusing at times.
Apart from that, it is a lovely book. It just needs a bit of editing.
This is the first time I have come across this in any book, so it is a bit puzzling.
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on 2 June 2017
I'm a big fan of Virginia McKenna and this is such a great book.
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on 27 May 2015
Of course this is NOT written by Joanna Lumley. It is a most moving collection of memories by the great Virginia McKenna; she who played Joy Adamson in Born Free, the story of Elsa and her cubs.
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