20/02/2009

The Garden of the Gods (by Gerald Durrell)

I first came across Gerald Durrell when one of his books was required reading at my secondary school when I was about thirteen. Thankfully that didn't put me off - indeed, it inspired me to read several more. I have mixed feelings about many of his books that focus primarily on his life as a naturalist, but come back to others to re-read at regular intervals.

'The Garden of the Gods' is the third of Gerald Durrell's semi autobiographical accounts of his life in Corfu as a child. It's no longer available on its own, but has recently been republished along with the earlier books, 'My Family and Other Animals' and 'Birds, Beasts and Relatives' as part of the 'Corfu Trilogy'.

As with the other two in the series, this is a series of anecdotes about Durrell's family - his long-suffering mother, his poetic brother Larry and his various friends, his gun-toting brother Leslie, and his sister Margo - and also his own passion as a naturalist, even at the age of twelve. He describes several of his expeditions alone, or with others, to observe both land and sea-life, sometimes collecting specimens for further study at home, much to the disgust of his family.

I assume the descriptions of his animal collecting trips are accurate, since he made detailed records at the time. However, I can only imagine that the conversations and anecdotes of family life are somewhat embellished, with plenty of artistic license.

Since I am not all that interested in the worlds of reptiles or sea creatures, I rather skimmed over those sections which took up a fair proportion of the book. I much prefer the descriptions of family life, even if they are somewhat apocryphal.

I didn't think this was as much fun as the first two books, but thought it worth reading all the same. If you don't want the whole trilogy, this volume can often be found second-hand.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 20th February 2009

No comments: