Friday, 12 August 2016

My Animals And Other Family by Clare Balding

My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding
First published by Viking in September 2012.
Winner of the Biography/Autobiography of the Year at the Specsavers National Book Awards 2012.

Where to buy this book:
Buy the audiobook download from Audible via
Buy the paperback from Speedyhen
Buy the audio CD from The Book Depository
Buy the paperback from Waterstones

How I got this book:
Bought the audiobook from Audible

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'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.'

Clare Balding was on TV a lot at the time I listened to this book because she was presenting the Commonwealth Games. I hadn’t considered that, but it was certainly an apt time to experience her book. I like Clare as a presenter because she is knowledgeable and comes across as a strong role model - no reliance on simpering or cleavage from her! However, I knew very little about her life before she began presenting mainstream sport. I had no idea she had been such a successful jockey for a time, nor that her family is so steeped in the world of horseracing.

Although this is very much a book about that world, I was pleased that I didn’t need to be a fan in order to understand it. While the result of a privileged upbringing, Clare is very down to earth about her childhood and adolescent experiences. I particularly liked that she doesn’t shirk from revealing actions that show her in a bad light as well as times when she shone. Her dawning awareness of the constant misogyny around her makes for an interesting theme and I am grateful that my teenage weight battles weren’t made such a stark focus as Clare’s were.

At one point Clare mentions that she enjoys listening to audiobooks and I believe this comes through in her narration as, not only is her story well written, but she does a great job of telling it too.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Clare Balding / Biography / Books from England

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