3.5 stars This is a memoir from Clare Balding as told through memories of key animals, primarily horses and dogs, in her life Her father is a trainer in the horse racing industry, and has a mostly benign neglect for his daughter and son, her mother is somewhat frazzled by the children and helping to manage their business, and their grandmother is horrified by their wildness and poor manners Their unusual upbringing includes receiving a pony from the queen, knowing that the horses come first with their father, and thinking that the seasons are flat racing and jumping rather than spring, summer, autumn, and winter She learns important lessons from the dogs and horses in her life, and eventually becomes a jockey Clare s encounters with the royal family continue, including an incident where she almost ran Princess Anne off the track during a race She also chronicles some of her struggles at boarding school and the difficulties of being a female jockey This was a forthright, sometimes humorous, and clear look at the racing industry from an inside perspective and the unconventional life of an English girl. A really good read Autobiography s are clearly only generally interesting to those who have a direct understanding of the celeb sports star etc, but I genuinely think that this book will reachthan just those who are aware of Clare Balding and or horse racing.She writes this in a wonderfully honest and open manner, which from someone who has found herself at times to be at very close hand to royalty and celebrities is very refreshing Whilst there s no scandal within it there are some hilarious etiquette foul ups that are dealt with in a truly human way I loved every second of the book, never found a dull moment to be found and discovered a person who, despite her upbringing and opportunities, really did strike out for herself ultimately and chose her own path into adulthood Hugely recommended read and I defy anyone to not outwardly laugh at moments when you really hope no ones watching or listening..I don t do 5 stars, I do today 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 Her Father A Champion Trainer, She Shared Her Life With ThanThoroughbred 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 QueenShe 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 PlayThe Running Family Joke Was That Women Ain T People Clare Had To Prove Them Wrong, To Make Her Voice Heard But First She Had To Make Sure She Had Something To SayMy Animals And Other Family Is A Funny, Brave, Tender Story Of Self Discovery A joy from beginning to end I laughed plenty, I cried twice, I remembered a million things about horses and horse racing that I d forgotten I knew, and when it was finished, I could have read it all over again This book achieves the best things about autobiography by not pushing you through every last comic incident of the writer s life, but by guiding you through what was important and notable to them as they grew up The book ends when Clare is 19, and I dearly hope writes another I d love to read the same deftly handled, brilliantly written approach to her broadcasting career.Most importantly, Balding is as fluid, fascinating and professional a writer as she is a presenter A very comfortable and pleasant afternoon s read I can well imagine returning to More please. Now I dont normally go for biogs, preferring fiction but something about this book made me want to read it I loved how each chapter was seperated into each different pet or horse Clare knew growing up It had me laughing and crying in many places She tells her story so well, which is easy to read and understand I m horsey but not that interested in Racing, but I understood what she was on about and could easily visualise the races or mishaps Clare got herself into growing up She evoked fond memories I have, especially as I was a fearless tom boy growing up too who would get myself in lots of trouble sometimes involving a pony or friend.Such a memory she has remembering so many things she did even that or she had such aeventful and interesting growing up than I did Maybe that is why I cant remember much of my childhood because not a lot happened Such a good storyteller and because of this I m making My Animals and Other Family my Book of the Month for October.Taken from my blog www.rosiereview.wordpress.comFollow me on Twitter rosiereview I should probably preface this review in saying that I have absolutely no interest in sport and most certainly not for horse racing, the decision to read this book was made purely out of fascination and intrigue yet it becomes the first biography I have chosen to review here, to receive five stars.First of all, Balding s take on the technical writing of a biography is completely unique She devotes each chapter of the book to a different dog or horse present in her life until later adolescence Whilst this device could be somewhat unusual to most readers, I feel it adds individuality and believability whilst giving true meaning to the book s title.Scoring a huge plus is the fact that in a world of conservatively written memoirs, Balding s is overtly honest and open We learn about her difficult boarding school education, teetering on the edge of expulsion and an obscenely strict and isolated upbringing Whilst being shunned for being a girl and generally being left to fend for oneself from such a young age would have been a traumatic time for most children, it wasn t for Balding Instead she discovered a prowess for horse riding, and discovered her inherent competitive streak which is a delight to read of.Clare s personality is infectiously warm and endearing and this tome expertly reveals how this came to be She describes her formidable grandmother s reaction to the birth of a girl as It s a girl, nevermind, keep trying before dumping the basketed child on the floor This constant debouching over her gender no doubt has spurred Balding on to become one of the UK s best known and well loved broadcasters, all before her early forties.I simply cannot sing the praises of this book highly enough It is eloquently written, beautifully illustrated by Gill Heeley and completed by a smattering of rare family photographs Overall, the book is somewhat fairytale like in nature and I implore that anyone looking to read a slightly different, edgier and exciting biography should put their opinions on sport and racing aside and pick up this fantastic memoir you will not regret it. Despite being around on Five Live and Channel 4 for a number of years, Claire Balding came into her own as a broadcaster during the London 2012 Olympics when her heart on the sleeve, down to earth honesty and connection with people shone through One could therefore have almost predicted that an autobiography would swiftly follow Whilst My Animals and Other Family is entertaining, with her trademark no frills style, this account of her formative years, at school and around her Father s stables, held together by tales of family dogs and horses, somehow lacks something and left me wantingbut in an unsatisfied, is that it sort of way Surfing on the crest of a popularity wave, no doubt the Saturday night family entertainment show will be nextoh, right, yes, there you go then Just a bit too formulaic for me to be bowled over, I m afraid. I have always admired Clare Balding, a sports presenter for British television I know her from the racing coverage the BBC used to carry, but she has since gone on to do all sorts of events, including the Olympics and Paralympics I have always admired her a lot She comes across as an intelligent, knowledgeable and most of all genuine human being I decided to listen to this book on Audible It makes sense to me to listen to memoirs narrated by the author and I had a lot of fun with this one.Clare tells stories of her childhood with a lot of warmth and good humour All the chapters are named after animals, dogs and horses, that have played a part in her life She paints a vivid picture of growing up with a father, who is a race horse trainer, and a grandmother who thinks women are second class citizens Everything, from her first pony to being caught shop lifting at boarding school to becoming an amateur jockey, is told with enthusiasm and often you can almost hear her smile at the memories There were definitely some laugh out loud moments and some sad moments and I lived them with Clare as she told me about them These tales of the first twenty years of her life are probably most interesting to those who know and like her, but if you like horses, you might like it regardless If you do not, well, maybe this one is not for you If you do decide to pick this one up, I thoroughly recommend listening to the audio book, as I did She knows how to tell those stories Who is Clare Balding why the heck should any of us care She s a BBC sports presenter, was an amateur jockey, grew up with race horses I still don t really care, but her autobiography is told through her interactions with thememorable horses dogs she knew it was excellent There were quite a few they re real animals people to her as they are to me , but animal people She captivated me in the first chapter with our similarities growing up on a farm She learned to walk with the help of her dog drank out of the same water dish occasionally My dogs are all good at eating off my fork always finish off my milk They re not really begging, just attentively waiting for me to share Kids can do far worse than a loyal dog as a role model I had one, too.There was some skipping around in time due to the way the story was presented, but each chapter was well laid out the animal characters made them hold together well The joys, love, loss were very real From outward appearances, we have nothing in common, yet she is obviously a kindred spirit Her father was one of the top race horse trainers in England, even had some of the Queen s horses, so she met a lot of interesting people in intimate detail had a lot of great riding opportunities, not to mention a love for all things equestrian Her story provides a great personal view of that life, although I was a bit lost with her education Their grades such are far different than ours.The only downside was her constant references to how her family put her down, yet she never seemed inclined to get back at them It was a rather ugly thread that seemed too lopsided undermined the veracity of her story somewhat Not a huge deal.If you want the bare facts of who she is now this book concentrates on her early life into college the Wikipedia page fleshes it out.http en.wikipedia.org wiki ClareBa For the benefit of non Brits, Clare Balding is a TV and radio broadcaster who became a national treasure during London 2012, anchoring C4 s Paralympic coverage as well as working for the BBC at the Olympics, most notably at the Aquatics Centre Checkout YouTube for her wonderful interview with Chad le Clos dad after his son beat Michael Phelps to win gold for South Africa.Anyway, this memoir of her childhood proves that Clare can write just as well as she can present Her father was a successful trainer of racehorses who in 1971 won the Derby with Mill Reef If asked were there any other events of note in that year , her dad would likely overlook the fact that Clare was also born Both she and her younger brother learnt that their place in the pecking order was behind the horses and dogs The Queen was an occasional breakfast guest, and as a young jockey Clare nearly killed Olympian Princess Anne in a race.It is both funny and moving, and very, very well written I ve always admired Clare Balding for her consummate professionalism as a broadcaster, being knowledgeable and well prepared, as well as for being out as a gay woman After reading this I now admire her turn of phrase and also her tenacity Hugely enjoyable, I d recommend this to anyone.
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- 258 pages
- My Animals and Other Family
- Clare Balding
- 09 May 2017 Clare Balding