The consolation of animals

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Big Pig, Little Pig: A Tale of Two Pigs in France. By Jacqueline Yallop. Fig Tree; 240 pages; £14.99.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and Books. By Alex Preston and Neil Gower. Little Brown; 200 pages; £25.

DO PEOPLE really know the animals they love? The question gnaws at a pair of memoirs published this month: “Big Pig, Little Pig”, Jacqueline Yallop’s account of raising two porkers in rural France, and “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”, a meditation by Alex Preston on a lifelong obsession with birds. Both authors are lecturers in creative writing and each has produced three novels. They are beady-eyed observers of their chosen creatures, the landscapes they occupy and their historical importance to humans. Their stories, however, are strikingly different.

Ms Yallop’s tale begins on her 40th birthday, as she and her husband put the finishing touches to a pig shelter near their house in Aveyron, a rugged part…Continue reading

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