Winner: Biography/Autobiography of the Year - Specsavers National Book Awards 2012
The unabridged, digital audiobook edition of My Animals and Other Family, Clare Balding's wildly funny and deeply moving childhood memoir, read brilliantly by the author herself.
"I had spent most of my childhood thinking I was a dog, and I 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. As her father is 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.
My Animals and Other Family is a funny, brave, tender story of self-discovery.
©2012 Clare Balding (P)2012 Penguin Books Ltd
I was expecting a lot from this book, and it certainly delivered - thoroughly enjoyable, laugh out loud funny in places and very involving - really really good and I highly recommend.
This is a lovely book to listen to as Claire Balding's voice is so easy on the ears. She tells her stories so calmly and really pulls you in. My only problem with this book is that I wished it was longer. I could listen to Claire's voice all day and I wanted to know more about her and her family. Excellent listen.
"Be prepared to cry buckets"
When I started listening to this book I was on a plane and had to turn it off lest I weep uncontrollably into my tissue. It is so lovely, Claire's reading is perfect, I could listen to her voice forever. There are wonderful stories of animals loved and lost, both funny and sad. I loved it so much I bought a copy of the talking book on disc for animal loving friends for Christmas.
This book was so unexpectedly great, made so much better by Clare reading it herself. Laugh out loud funny, desperately sad in parts and very moving - a great tale of her life growing up in Kingsclere with her family and animals. Highly recommended!!!
"Interesting and enjoyable - highly recommended"
I know of Clare Balding as a television sports presenter, as I'm sure many of us do. Her on-screen likability prompted me to purchase this audiobook. However, I had no idea about her unique upbringing as a race horse trainer's daughter. The book was superb; her stories were easy to relate to, interesting, open, and heartfelt. The writing and reading were easy on the ear. I'd especially recommend this to any of Clare's many fans, especially those who have a love of animals.
"Pleasant bedtime listening if you love horses!"
The clue is in the title: every chapter revolves around an animal - horse or dog - that has played a significant part in Clare's early life. Yes there is some autobiography linked to these animals, but if you're hoping for an indepth analysis of what makes Clare the person she is, you will be disappointed. It is nicely written and enjoyably read by the author but probably the fact of parents and sibling still being alive has made her pull her punches although the appalling misogyny of grandmother, father and brother does come through. Her own sexuality is only slightly and coyly dealt with at the end. It was good to fall asleep to but even as a horse lover there were times when I awoke and thought 'oh no, not another canter on the gallops on another (expletive deleted) horse!'
"Charming, funny and entertaining"
Claire is well on her way to becoming a national treasure and this book is another step on the way! As I am female, an animal lover, an enthusiastic horse rider and besotted dog owner, this book appealed strongly to me but I can see that if you don't understand these elements it probably will not have the same impact.
I loved the honesty in the telling of her family relationships and understand from personal experience that sometimes emotional connection may not get past the stiff upper lip!
Her warmth and humour came through strongly in her narration and. along with other reviewers, I very much hope that Claire will find the time to continue her writing.
Thank you Claire for letting us into your world.
"A wonderful listen"
I just loved it and didn't want it to finish. Its not like any other biography I have ever read as it flows along like a good novel should. Totally believable and wonderfully read in Clare's best easy-going presenting voice. She is a rare talent and her wealth of knowledge and understanding of what is mostly a man's world is excellent and makes you want to know more and more (but only read by Clare herself) I wonder if she will do another book as she gets older to include more up to date and relevant material. I expected a lot when I bought this book and it did not disappoint in any way. Thank you Clare I really enjoyed it.
"Wendy from Shropshire"
Oh, I didn't want this to end! What an excellent, well read listen. Couldn't wait to get in the car in the morning. Thank you Clare.
I have followed Clare's career and it was great to hear in her own words describe her early years using the clever thread of the animals that have shared her life. I managed to finish it over a long weekend as her story telling and wonderfully written prose just carried me along.
Thanks Clare - it was great!
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