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My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding
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My Animals and Other Family (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Clare Balding

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876138,736 (4.27)9
Member:silvercowrie
Title:My Animals and Other Family
Authors:Clare Balding
Info:Viking (2012), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 257 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:non-fiction, autobiography, read 2013

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My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding (2012)

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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Who is Clare Balding & why the heck should any of us care? She's a BBC sports presenter, was an amateur jockey, & grew up with race horses. I still don't really care, but her autobiography is told through her interactions with the more memorable horses & dogs she knew & it was excellent. There were quite a few & they're real animals - people to her (as they are to me), but animal people. She captivated me in the first chapter with our similarities growing up on a farm. She learned to walk with the help of her dog & drank out of the same water dish occasionally. (My dogs are all good at eating off my fork & always finish off my milk. They're not really begging, just attentively waiting for me to share.) Kids can do far worse than a loyal dog as a role model. I had one, too.

There was some skipping around in time due to the way the story was presented, but each chapter was well laid out & the animal characters made them hold together well. The joys, love, & loss were very real. From outward appearances, we have nothing in common, yet she is obviously a kindred spirit.

Her father was one of the top race horse trainers in England, even had some of the Queen's horses, so she met a lot of interesting people in intimate detail & had a lot of great riding opportunities, not to mention a love for all things equestrian. Her story provides a great personal view of that life, although I was a bit lost with her education. Their grades & such are far different than ours.

The only downside was her constant references to how her family put her down, yet she never seemed inclined to get back at them. It was a rather ugly thread that seemed too lopsided & undermined the veracity of her story somewhat. Not a huge deal.

If you want the bare facts of who she is now (this book concentrates on her early life into college) the Wikipedia page fleshes it out.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clare_Balding
( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Very interesting. I knew practically nothing about her before. ( )
  rhiand | Apr 28, 2014 |
I enjoyed this autobiography much more than I anticipated and should have realised that the always-prepared and topic-thoroughly-researched Ms Balding would take the same approach to her writing.

This was a joy to read, I loved learning more about the racing world and sympathised with every animal story detailed. As ever with these things, Ms Balding has worked hard to 'suddenly' become a national treasure and it was nice to read her back-story. Each chapter flows nicely and all the little odds and ends you wonder about [as you're reading] are tied off. ( )
  floriferous | Jun 30, 2013 |
I am not much of a reader of autobiographies, but this was a gift, so I gave it a go and enjoyed it much more than I expected to.
Clare doesn't write a chronological tale, but gives each chapter the title of an animal she has known, all dogs or horses and uses that animal as a focus for the chapter. This means the narrative has some chronology, but is not a then-I-did-this and then-I-did this sort of story.
She concentrates on funny stories about herself and her family and happily shows herself in a poor light. She led a privileged and happy life and seems to acknowledge that as much as she can. Her life is so different from my own, all pony clubs, stables, large dogs and happy families, so it was interesting to read about her life and I now know much more about racing than I ever did before. ( )
  Tifi | Feb 10, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clare Baldingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heeley, GillIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.

Anatole France
Dedication
For Alice
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The first face I can remember seeing was Candy's.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670922900, Paperback)

I had spent most of my childhood thinking I was a dog, and suspect I had aged in dog years. By the time I was ten I had discovered the pain of unbearable loss. I had felt joy and jealousy. Most important of all, I knew how to love and how to let myself be loved. All these things I learnt through animals. Horses and dogs were my family and my friends. This is their story as much as it is mine'. Clare Balding grew up in a rather unusual household. Her father a champion trainer, she shared her life with more than 100 thoroughbred racehorses, mares, foals and ponies, as well as an ever-present pack of boxers and lurchers. As a toddler she would happily ride the legendary Mill Reef and take breakfast with the Queen. She and her younger brother came very low down the pecking order. Left to their own devices, they had to learn life's toughest lessons through the animals, and through their adventures in the stables and the idyllic Hampshire Downs. From the protective Candy to the pot-bellied Valkyrie and the frisky Hattie, each horse and each dog had their own character and their own special part to play. The running family joke was that "women ain't people". Clare has to prove them wrong, to make her voice heard - but first she had to make sure she had something to say. My Animals and Other Family is a funny, brave, tender story of self-discovery.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:50 -0400)

Clare Balding grew up in a rather unusual household. Her father a champion trainer, she shared her life with more than 100 thoroughbred racehorses, mares, foals and ponies, as well as an ever-present pack of boxers and lurchers. Here, she describes how she learned some of life's toughest lessons through the animals.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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