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Vet in the Vestry
By Alexander Cameron

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Vet in the Vestry
By Alexander Cameron
St. Martins Press, (1989)
Large Print Book Club Edition
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - February 24, 2002

Alexander Cameron trained as a vet and added the title, MRCVS to his name. MRCVS stands for 'Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.' Thereafter he spent many years working as a country veterinarian treating just about every creature from cats to monkeys. Then, in the late 1950's his life took a drastic turn when he entered the seminary and became a Presbyterian Minister in the Church of Scotland. In Vet in the Vestry Cameron recounts his life as a vet, and the events and feelings that led him to enter the priesthood. He also offers insights into some of the unique situations that a country vet can find himself in when he becomes a 'country' minister and begins to administer to an entirely new breed of animal - humans.

This is a humorous and light-hearted book. It is, however, impossible not to make a comparison between this book and James Herriot's books, such as All Creatures Great and Small. Cameron was aware of this, and is quick to point that while there are many similarities between the books, he wrote his book before Herriot's books were published. In addition, some similarities are to be expected because both author's books are set in the same time period and the deal with the same subject - the vagrancies of life as a country vet. While I love Herriot's stories, I much prefer Cameron's writing style. Compared to Herriot, Cameron writes in more easy going manner, and his dialog is more conversational in nature.

While at times downright humorous, Vet in the Vestry also deals with some serious topics including death - both of humans and animals. Cameron candidly talks about his home life, his children, and the strain that both of his careers had on his family. More importantly, he frankly discusses the tremendous support that he received from his family as he left his growing veterinary practice that he had spent years building, to begin a new career. Although it is obvious that Cameron had a true calling for a life in the church, it is hard to read this book without feeling that, in many ways, he regretted giving up his veterinary career.

Vet in the Vestry is a charming book that is suitable for readers of all ages. Cameron is a witty writer, whose story will not only touch your funny bone, but also your heart.

Unfortunately, the large print edition of this book is currently out-of-print.

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