When I opened it I was pleased and surprised to see a copy of Clare Baldings autobiography My Animals and Other Family. I am not usually a biography, or non-fiction, fan but I love a free book.
At the beginning of February the unthinkable happened. My book broke :-( my kindle of four years and many books screen was broken. I had just started A Casual Vacancy for the third time and was starting to get into it when this happened. That evening I reached for the nearest book on my bedside table and reached this.
I quickly whizzed through it. Balding has used her family pets, dogs and horses, as a way of structuring her life story. This means each chapter is focused on one animal but also it's relation to Balding's life, her mothers dogs being her guardians as a baby, her fathers racehorses helping to secure a short lived racing career and puppies causing mischief with her younger brother.
Balding's family history is intriguing, links to Robin Hood, New York polo society and royalty are quietly mentioned and talked of so normally you forget the significance. This is a modest book through and through with no hint of silver spoons despite the wealth and privilege many associate her with.
Balding sounds like she was a bit of a tear away when younger, but in such a fun and forgivable way. It really warmed me to her reading this book. I finished reading during the Winter Olympics and tweeted a picture of L waving at Balding on the front cover. The highlight was, despite working and not knowing who we were, she tweeted back.
Instantly my favourite news reporter and commentator.
I would recommend this book to some one who wants something fun and easy to read, the structure of the narrative in disconnected chapters makes it the perfect book for mums like me who can not read for great lengths of time before falling asleep or being interrupted. It is laugh out loud but also deeply personal. I really related with a the childhood conflict of wanting to be liked but also true to yourself.
It's a fabulous auto biography.