Sunday 12 January 2014

Book review : My Animals and Other Family - Clare Balding

When I recently received a copy of My Animals and Other Family from the BritMums book club, I was intrigued by the "autobiography of the year" and "number one bestseller" accolades and wanted to see what I'd think. I have to admit, I didn't really know anything about the author so I was most impressed when Madhouse Daddy wandered past and, despite being French, said "oh, is that Clare Balding?". Clare has been a horse racing presenter on TV for 18 years and was lead presenter for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games but she's also appeared on numerous other TV programmes, which is why she looked familiar to me, even if I have very little interest in sport.

I initially thought I wasn't going to like Clare much. She comes from a very privileged background where having the Queen popping in for a cooked breakfast (and to check up on her horses, kept by Clare's champion-trainer father) and carving up Princess Anne on a race track are nothing out of the ordinary - would her upper class life really strike a chord with me? - but I was soon won over by her down-to-earth and totally honest way with words. She doesn't try to sugar things up, revealing the high and low points of her life and sporting career, including a few less than glorious moments when she was growing up, and this makes her seem really approachable, despite her life being nothing like mine.

Rather than using different moments in her life to break up the chapters, Clare works her way through the different pets - horses but also dogs - that she owned and loved, as a child, then a teenager and into adulthood. She has some lovely stories to share, some funny and some touching, and she's a great storyteller. As well as showing how the other half live, she also reveals that, boarding school high jinks, professional racehorses and royal visits aside, teenagers are the same wherever they are. It's a heartwarming read, full of great life lessons with lots of laugh-out-loud moments.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (11 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241959756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241959756
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.6 cm

Disclosure : I received the book from Britmums Book Club on order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : Marina - Carlos Ruiz Zafon


  1. i thought the same as you to start with - that i'd have nothing in common so i wouldn't enjoy it but ended up finding it a fab read! x

  2. Hi there,
    If you enjoyed Clare's book, I think you might enjoy my book Seriously Mum, What's an Alpaca? Here is the link If you would be interested in reviewing my book, I can send you a copy by email. My email is and my twitter is @AlpacaBook

    1. Hi Alan, I can only review paperback copies I'm afraid xx


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