My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding is a funny, brave, tender story of self-discovery
'I had spent most of my childhood thinking I was a dog, and 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 more than 100 thoroughbred 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 Queen.
She 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 play.
The running family joke was that "women ain't people". Clare has to prove them wrong, to make her voice heard - but first she had to make sure she had something to say.
'Moving, funny and larger than life' Michael Morpurgo
'Magical, enchanting, riotously eccentric' Daily Mail
'Funny and moving, James Herriot meets David Sedaris' The Times
'Forthright, thoughtful, funny . . . reads like a Jilly Cooper novel' Sunday Times
'Funny and unexpectedly wise. Balding has lots of good stories to tell. It is impossible not to admire her honesty Mail on Sunday
'She can do anything. If there were four more Clare Baldings, we'd have our empire back. Six, and we'd be colonising the Moon. And there would be crumpets and ashtrays for everyone' Caitlin Moran, The Times
'The reading equivalent of snuggling by the fire with a labrador' The Guardian
'A funny, affectionate memoir' Independent on Sunday
'Charming, refreshingly self-depreciating, funny and moving. Balding tells it with immense flair' Daily Express
Clare Balding is an award-winning broadcaster and writer. She became the face of the BBC's racing coverage in 1998, and now works across a wide range of sports for television and radio. She has been a lead presenter for the Olympics, Paralympics, Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games. For more than twelve years, she has hiked across the countryside for the BBC Radio 4 series Ramblings.
Clare has presented Countryfile, Britain's Hidden Heritage, Britain By Bike, Crufts, and Famous & Fearless, and has appeared on QI, Have I Got News for You and Sport Relief. She has been voted RTS Sports Presenter of the Year and Racing Broadcaster of the Year. She lives in West London with her partner Alice, their wayward Tibetan Terrier Archie and a cat who couldn't give a damn called Itty. My Animals and Other Family is Clare's first book.