09/09/2006

My Family and Other Animals (by Gerald Durrell)


'My Family and Other Animals' is the autobiographical account of Gerald Durrell's family moving to Corfu when he was ten, and the years they spent there. His interests, even at that age, were primarily related to animals - encompassing the entire animal kingdom, including insects and reptiles. He was an avid collector, and delighted to find mentors able to help him. Some of the book features his expeditions around the island, to discover a variety of beasts, many of which he took home to study.

However the main appeal of the book is in the characters and conversations of Gerry's family - three older siblings, and their long-suffering mother. Larry, the oldest, is literary-minded, and invites a succession of poets and artists to stay, sometimes without much notice. Leslie, a couple of years younger, is much more action-orientated, and particularly keen on shooting. Their sister Margo is rather flaky, but usually delighted with any small and sweet animals. Misunderstandings ensue, and a great deal of humour comes through.

The book also gives a good account of Corfu life in the 1930s, before the tourist industry took over. There's a little colonialist snobbery inherent, but I didn't find it too grating (Gerry talks casually about 'peasants' - although he considers most of them his friends) but overall it's a delightful account. I first read it as a school textbook when I was about fourteen, but even that didn't spoil my enjoyment. I read it again about ten years later, and recently indulged once more. Highly enjoyable, recommended to anyone.

No longer in print as a single book, although it's widely available second-hand, but is excellent value as part of the 'Corfu Trilogy', also including the sequels 'Birds, Beasts and Relatives', and 'Garden of the Gods'.

1 comment:

Little Girl Lost said...

Hi Sue,
I just published a review of My Family and Other Animals in my book blog, and was searching around for reviews by other bloggers, when I found your blog. And what an adorable blog it is! I loved your book reviews!Following you now.
Would you like to come over and read my review? My blog is fairly new, but I’m working hard on it. The review is at http://riversihaveknown.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/my-family-and-other-animals-a-review/
Please also read the other reviews as well and leave your comments. And if you like the blog, please please follow!
Thank you!