A moving memoir of a life spent in the company of animals—a veterinarian sheds light on the universal experience of loving, healing, and losing our beloved pets, and the many ways they change our lives.
These two themes—the ever-evolving state of veterinary medicine and the bond between humans and animals—are explored in a series of chapters, each centering around a single case. The author also weaves in tales of her personal life, such as how adopting a cat gave her a new insight into feline medicine, or the fact that moving in with her boyfriend forced her to balance her constant drive for working with the needs of a new relationship. Fincham-Gray, who also has an MFA in creative writing, has created a wonderfully introspective look at the role of the veterinarian.
As a teenager in England, Fincham-Gray was enchanted by the TV adaptations of James Herriot’s best-selling books, which made a vet’s life seem as easygoing as a country stroll. She’s grown up to write My Patients and Other Animals an engrossing, visceral counterpoint ... My Patients and Other Animals is at its best when the author is at her nerviest, removing the romantic sheen from her profession and replacing it with a more realistic and complicated portrait. If it’s sometimes tragic, it’s also consistently rooted in compassion.
She doesn’t always deliver on the personal introspection she’s reaching for in this memoir, but elements like her short profile of the pancreas, which, in part, describes the organ as 'pale and malevolent, hiding between the smooth, jolly pink intestines and the dense, bloody liver,' are memorably vivid.