When Monty Don's golden retriever, Nigel, became the surprise star of BBC's Gardeners' World, inspiring huge interest, fan mail and even his own social media accounts, Monty Don wanted to explore what makes us connect with animals quite so deeply.
In many respects Nigel is a very ordinary dog - charming, handsome and obedient, as so many are. He is also a much loved family pet. He is also a star. By telling Nigel's story, Monty relates his relationships with other special dogs in his life in a memoir of his dogs past and very much present.
Witty, touching and life affirming, Nigel: My Family and Other Dogs is wonderfully heartwarming. Monty Don is a great writer coming out of the garden and into the hearts and homes of every dog lover in the UK.
'I have always had a dog or dogs. I cannot imagine life without them. I am just as much a fan of Nigel as any besotted viewer. In the book I explore why we love dogs and what they mean to us emotionally and domestically. I look back on all the dogs in my life - all of which I have loved deeply and which have been an essential part of my life. So, this is the book of Nigel - but also the book of all our dogs in every British family and a celebration of the deep love we feel for them.' (Monty Don)
What made the experience of listening to Nigel the most enjoyable?
I have quite recently discovered Don's show (the Gardeners' World), and I fell in love with that world of his garden, and his dogs. I was really glad to see his book available on Audible, and I do not regret spending a credit on it. Listening to the stories of family, dogs, gardens told by Monty himself was a special treat. I love how open and honest he is about his life, and he talks about some very personal and painful moments without ever going melodramatic or self-pitying. As a reader, and as a fan of his show, I respect that a lot.
He looks at his life and at lives of the dogs with the eyes of a gardener, who has seen fleeting seasons come and go, who daily deals with bitter losses and then hope.
The story of Nigel is told through the story of Monty's garden, and to fully enjoy the book, you have to watch the show at least once, and you have to love gardens (otherwise quite a large chunk of the book might seem boring, I guess).
I found this book utterly lovely, touching, and full of hope.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Nigel again? Why?
I will listen to Nigel over and over, and already have. I went through a terrible trauma — my mother and husband were both killed in tragic accidents months apart — and lost the will to live. I got a dog for company and moved to the country to isolate myself from the world. I started watching Gardeners' World, and seeing Monty working in his gardens each week with Nigel by his side comforted me. I began to buy Monty's various books and learned how gardening helped him get through many traumas of his own. He quickly became a huge inspiration to me. Because of him, I have a dream again, a single dream ... the dream of having a garden. Hearing him talk about gardening, especially how he created his own gardens from nothing but a patch of weeds, keeps me motivated to make my dream a reality, so when I heard he was releasing this book, I was really excited and bought it as soon as it came out. I thought being able to put it on any time I wanted would sort of be like having Monty here as a personal coach, motivating me, and that's exactly how it feels for me when I listen to it. I'm not getting anywhere fast, there are so many hurdles and it's difficult to tackle them entirely alone, but at least I have hope of getting SOMEWHERE, and that means everything to me. So I listen to this frequently, to keep the fire burning. Baby steps, baby steps....
What did you like best about this story?
The way Monty chose to alternate current times with stories from his past rather than just telling the story in a strict linear chronology. When jumps in a timeline aren't done well, it can be jarring and disjointed, but he handles the transitions so smoothly and elegantly, not only does it feel completely natural, but it feels like this is the way it NEEDED to be told.
Which character – as performed by Monty Don – was your favorite?
I loved Monty's voicings of Nigel's thoughts. Nigel is very stoic and serene on the show, but I was so pleased to discover he's absolutely hilarious in private. I wasn't expecting that at all! I found myself giggling and rewinding those parts quite a few times.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Each time Monty told the stories of how he'd lost each of his past dogs, especially Red. As he was reliving those memories, I could hear the catch in his voice as he was fighting back tears, and I found myself crying, too. For anyone who's ever lost a beloved companion, we all know that hard day is going to come eventually. It's a bond we all share, going into it knowing the price we're going to have to pay one day. As painful as it is, there's a certain kind of comfort in hearing other people's stories of goodbye and knowing we're not alone in our grief.
Those are the sad bits, though. There are many moments of pure joy. Nigel's passion for peas and frustration when Monty takes too long finishing breakfast tickled me.
Any additional comments?
If you don't know who Monty is, that doesn't matter. If you don't know who Nigel is, it doesn't matter. If you have ever loved a dog, are into gardening, or love all things English, you'll enjoy this book.
As a combined dog lover and gardening enthusiast, I just simply loved it. It's only flaw is, that it is much too short.
Would you consider the audio edition of Nigel to be better than the print version?
Haven't read the book and probably wouldn't read through so many dog details
Who was your favorite character and why?
Which scene was your favorite?
Monty with Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
Nigel is already on film, every week in Gardener's World
Any additional comments?
Monty Don has a wonderful narrator's voice. Calm and he actually can speak English that can be understood
If you love dogs and you don't need to be a keen gardener to enjoy this book
It's full of interesting stories of the dogs in the authors life some very funny and others sad on his feelings when a dog died
This is one book I will listen to again a beautiful flower in the long grass
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is a charming book on many levels; a peon to the adorable Nigel, the golden retriever who stars on Gardeners World. Beautifully written and read by Monty Don, it describes Nigel's life to date, how the garden at Longmeadow has evolved in his life time (and earlier), and tells the stories of many of the other dogs that Monty has owned from boyhood. The writing is wonderfully fluent even if Monty uses a lot of cliches, and he describes the landscape with vivid clarity. I found it to be rather tragic however; given that Monty is pushing his sixth decade, he's owned a lot of dogs, particularly the large dogs who rarely live beyond 12 years. To my dismay he describes their ageing years and deaths in a lot of detail and his grief at their passing. I found this unbearably sad, and wish this part of the book had been reduced. I wouldn't re-listen due to this and I'm surprised at reviewers who said they listened to the book with their children (whom I expected to be traumatised!). But perhaps I'm too sensitive.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
being a golden retriever owner I found myself laughing along to monty describing the antics of his golden.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Anyone who has ever owned dogs will love this book and it will strike a cord with the great joy they bring and deep sorry when their time come. Brilliant
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Monty's voice is a pleasure to hear. His passion for his dogs and garden shine through. Very enjoyable.
Absolutely loved it. Was expecting a nice book all about Monty Don's superstar dog, Nigel but this book was so much more. I learnt so much about Monty and Nigel's wonderful relationship and life together but also all about Monty through his previous doggy companions and how they shaped his life.
This book was an absolute joy to listen to and I've repeated chapters over & over again to help me relax and cope with my depression. Learning about Monty's struggles & how his relationships with the K9 members of his family has helped with his depression really touched me and made me feel not so alone in my struggle and also affirmed how dogs are such great companions and teachers to us.
I personally could listen to Monty read this book all day, every day as he writes and narrates so beautiful.
Thank you so much Monty and Audible for bringing such a beautiful book to life for me to enjoy over and over again.
And of course thank you to Nigel, Nellie and all the other dogs in both Monty's and my own life who have been the greatest teachers to us humans.
Thank you Monty for sharing your family and stories with us and for being such a brilliant storyteller.
A beautiful and sensitively written book about Monty's relationship with his dogs. I loved it from start to finish and would highly recommend listening to it. The added bonus of listening to the audio book is Monty's calm and reassuring voice adding an extra layer to the story.
Loved every second of this book... Funny... but at times absolutely heart breaking... a real insight.
This is just a lovely book to listen to, I'm not going to say it's exciting and action packed but just a beautifully written and narrated book. I'm so glad Monty narrated this book it just wouldn't have been the same with anyone else. I drive about 1000 miles a week in a car and I need easy to listen to books to enable me to concentrate on the road and this is just the book. Sometimes because of Monty's soothing book I have to stop because I can feel myself getting too relaxed. I guess being a Gardeners world and Monty Don fan helps.
I recommend this book 100%
Thanks for a great well written and honest book Monty and off course Nigel.
What a wonderful book,it made me laugh,smile and cry.Reminding me of the truely special relationship we have with our canine companions. Thank you Monty