City Girl, Country Vet

Cathy Woodman
September 2012, Fiction
Hyperion Voice, $15.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 1401341713

Grade: B
Sensuality: Subtle

One of the blurbs about this book states “Emily Giffin meets James Herriott in this charming and original tale of adventure, mishap, and romance centered around a vet's practice in the English countryside.” Honestly, that is a pretty accurate assessment since the book is part chick lit and animal well-being.

London veterinarian Maz Harwood did everything Mike’s way. Meeting him a few months after his divorce and working for him at Crossway Vets all were big warning signs but the attraction between them was immediate and mutual. Mike needed to take it slow in order to spare his ex-wife’s feelings and Maz eagerly consented. But instead of being rewarded for her patience and understanding she is stunned when after four and a half years together, Mike decides that he is still in love with his ex-wife. Now she needs to find a a new place of employment.Her best friend and former classmate Emma has the perfect solution.

After completing veterinarian school Emma moved back to Talyton, a small town in Devonshire. She turned her family home into Otter Veterinary Clinic. While she loves her town, setting up a practice there has been very stressful, especially since her relationship with the other animal clinic, Talyton Manor Vets, is contentious. Also it has been three and a half years since her last day off. So it is easy to understand why her husband finally laid down the law. She is looking for someone to take over her practice so they can take a six-month vacation, and who better than her best friend. Maz is not excited about leaving cosmopolitan London for a rural community- or the six month time frame, but she owes Emma and would do anything to help her friend.

Straightaway Maz discovers that this assignment is not a piece of cake. Emma left out numerous pertinent facts about the practice. Frances the secretary–receptionist has taken bossiness and imperiousness to a whole new level. And the townspeople's distrust of strangers is apt to put the business under before Maz gets the chance to prove herself.

Her first impression of Alex Fox-Gifford, one of the rival vets, reaffirms her dismal view of the masculine gender but as she gets to know him better, she can't deny his attractiveness. Still, they are rivals of a sort.

The romance is of the light variety. Reading the book I was slightly disappointed in the amount of time spent exploring the relationship. However I have just discovered that this book is part of a series. Viewed in that light, the limited time makes more sense.

Although I do enjoy first person narrative, in this scenario it does limit the intensity of emotions or feelings. While many affecting things happen, often I felt more like an outsider looking in on the story rather than being involved. Still through Maz’s eyes you get an excellent viewpoint of the English countryside, and the occupants of Talyton. One of the reason I enjoyed the book so much is the snapshot view of British culture. As an example, as the heroine is passing two men one calls out “Mornin', my lover,” a West county turn of phrase and which is unique even to Maz.

Since the author is a qualified veterinarian much of the book encompasses difficulties and complications in treating animals and dealing with the humans who own them. As an animal lover I found the insights into veterinarian medicine humorous, touching, sad and heartwarming. There are some scenarios that mimic real life but they are lightly handled without too much detail. And there are some truly uplifting moments as animals conquer their infirmities and ailments. I suspect that if you find yourself glued to the television watching Animal E.R. then you will enjoy City Girl, Country Vet too.

-- Leigh Davis

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