read_warbler (read_warbler) wrote,

My Family and Other Animals

I seem to be on a bit of a Gerald Durrell kick at the moment. Heaven knows why - I seem to get these weird flights of fancy from time to time. And, to tell the truth, I can't remember whether I've read this book before or not. I'm getting it confused with the TV series, I'm sure.

Anyway, everyone knows that My Family and Other Animals is about Gerald Durrell's childhood on Corfu. His family move there when one of his older brothers suggests it during a bad winter in England. I think they had just moved home from India and all seemed to be suffering from the usual winter ailments. So off they went, ten year old Gerald, his widowed mother, two older brothers, Leslie and Lawrence (the famous author), and Margo, his sister. The book is almost like a series of short stories as various adventures are retold, many of them to do with Gerald's animal collecting habits and some of the dire repercussions that result from said habit. But also there is much about his family, new friends made on Corfu and about the island itself.

I kept having to remind myself that this was Corfu in the 1930s because this is a book that makes you want to rush off there; which would be silly as I believe it's not like this any more. How sad. Durrell had such powers of description that it truly sounds like heaven on earth. Anyway, this is a gem of a book. The family are the stars of the show, Gerald's rather vague mother, stuck-up Lawrence, gun-crazy Leslie and Margo who falls in love with Gerald's tutor and has to be parted from him. Spiro, the Greek who adopts the family, is also great fun, I forgot that he was played by Brian Blessed in the series - talk about perfect casting. I did find myself slightly horrified at the animals Gerald took from the wild to make pets of. But I reminded myself that this was 1935 and people felt differently about such things back then. And it *did* lead to a lifetime's work with endangered species on his behalf, so it was an ends to a means.

Excellent read, funny, wonderfully evocative, perfect. I'm busy collecting more of his books now and especially want the next two 'Corfu' books. I'm also replacing this copy of 'My Family' as I don't like the cover and want an illustrated version.

And now time for some book porn!

Birthday gifts. The boxed set is the first ten 'Just William' books by Richmal Crompton, from my eldest daughter. The Robin Hobb is from my youngest daughter and the Debbie Macomber and Sophie Kinsella from nakeisha. I think I did pretty well for books for my b/day. :-)

Two new Gerald Durrells - especially pleased with that illustrated hardback which turned out to be a 1st. edition. The Peter Lovesey is an author new to me, recced by fondofbooks, so I'm looking forward to trying that. Natural Flights of the Human Mind is a ReadItSwapIt swap book. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a fictional book about the Holocaust. Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield I bought because I've never read anything by this author and a lot of people rate her. These last two are both charity shop buys as are the two Gerald Durrells.
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