An Armful of Animals
- Author: Malcolm D Welshman
- Release Date: 1 September 2018
- Pages: 290 – Paperback and Kindle Edition
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- My award – 5 Stars
Malcolm D. Welshman has had a lifetime filled with exciting encounters with animals. As a lad in Nigeria, he is attacked by soldier ants and terrified by a snake in his treehouse. His treasured companion, Poucher, an African bush dog, prevents him and his mother from being savaged by baboons.
Once qualified as a vet Malcolm has to attempt life-saving surgery on his beloved parrot. On a road trip across the Sahara, there is a tussle with a lame camel and the operation on an ostrich gored by an antelope.
Settling back in West Sussex in England, he tackles a cow that’s got stuck in a tree, wily cats and battles with cunning badgers and baby bats. He shares all these fascinating experiences in this gently humorous memoir that will guarantee to tug at the heart strings while bringing a smile to your face. Anyone who loves animals will be enchanted and enthralled.
‘An Armful of Animals’ is the latest book from retired vet turned best-selling author, Malcolm Welshman. This time he opens his casebook and intertwines tales from his surgery and travels with reminiscences from childhood. We meet his parents, an assortment of colleagues and neighbours along with the marvellous Maxeen, his loving wife who has been at his side throughout many an adventure.
The structure of the book is straightforward with each chapter devoted to a different time and place, usually with a bit of background and some lovely scene-setting to drop the reader into each particular situation.
We first meet Polly the parrot (no marks for originality there, Malcolm) whom is purchased from a street market in Ibadan and watch as a touching relationship develops between boy and bird. It is testimony to the writing skill that we hold our breath as many years later, Polly becomes gravely ill. This necessitates Malcolm, by then a newly qualified vet, operating on his own cherished pet to save her life.
Many of the outcomes are uplifting and positive but not all have a happy ending. The stories are sometimes poignant, occasionally a little sad but always fascinating. The author dips into his past with snapshots of time spent in Nigeria and later Kenya, before returning to England to take up practice in West Sussex, where he managed to fill his home with a succession of waifs and strays.
He also introduces us to an eclectic bunch of pet owners and reminds us of the dangers of doing favours for friends. In addition, he touches on his own difficulties in a frank and honest manner which will give heart to some readers; although I suspect many may prefer an alternative coping mechanism!
The author cleverly uses many literary devices; including colourful descriptions of both places and people, similes and metaphors along with gentle, often self-deprecating humour. These ingredients make the individual stories flow into each other and without doubt, shining through every encounter is the love and dedication Malcolm feels for all species of animal. The pictures painted of the Stockwell twins and their truculent Jersey, along with Miss MacTaggart and her verbally offensive parrot, were priceless.
From malodorous smells in the bedroom to urinating on the lawn, if you like animals and enjoy a heartwarming read, then this book is for you. It would make a wonderful Christmas stocking filler. I congratulate the author on another excellent offering and have no hesitation in awarding a well-deserved five stars.
About the Author
Malcolm is a retired vet and author of three fictionalised novels about the life of a young vet in his early days in practice. In September 2011, the eBook of the first, Pets in a Pickle, reached number 2 in Kindle’s bestseller list. The following year, Barnes & Noble in the US chose Pets in a Pickle as its Free Friday selection from their Nook books. As a result the eBook got 68,000 hits and 450 reviews, over half of which were 5*.
The third novel in the series, Pets Aplenty, was a finalist in the People’s Book Prize 2015.
His latest memoir, published September 2018, relates, through a series of very personal and heartfelt anecdotes, how animals that have influenced his life from a youngster in Nigeria through to his early years as a vet, starting with Nigel the newt.
Malcolm also writes features for national newspapers such as The Daily Mail, and magazines such as Dorset Life, Parrots Magazine and Cat World. The People’s Friend has run two series each of 30 stories, entitled ‘Tales from Prospect House’.
In addition, his writing and plethora of animal anecdotes, has enabled him to participate as a guest speaker on cruise ships with a tally of 44 engagements worldwide to-date.
His website is: http://www.malcolmwelshman.co.uk