After last year's Olympics, Clare Balding is one of my favourite broadcasters - this moment sealed the deal (plus her double act with Mark Foster!). I was drawn to her because she seemed like a woman who was succeeding without compromising herself. That impressed me. Oh, and she didn't take anything too seriously!
My Animals and Other Family is the story of Clare's formative years and early career as a jockey. Born and raised in rural England life revolved around her family's racehorse stables, where humans came second to animals. Left to her own devices, Clare learnt many of life's lessons through animals, and each chapter focuses on a specific dog or horse that she shared her childhood with.
Throughout the book, Clare describes the personalities of the animals beautifully, you can feel the true connection she had with each dog or horse, and how important each one was. As an animal person this is something I can truly understand - each of my animals has had it's own unique personality and quirks that have shaped our relationships and the impact that animal has had.
Submerged in horse racing her whole life, Clare slips in to racing terminology throughout this book, and I found myself googling terms like furlong on a regular basis. If the book hadn't been written with such charm this might have been annoying, but Clare's comfortable style assured me that this way of speaking was just part of her. It was nice to have such a genuine insight in to someone's personality.
I have to admit, I wish this book has told me more about how Clare developed her career as a broadcaster. However, the sensitive insight in to what made the woman who she is was a really interesting read. One I would definitely recommend.