thoughts on books: my family and other animals

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell is such a fun book! It’s easy to see why it has been adapted in TV shows and movies, but I think the book is better than the adaptations. It’s hard to capture that level of craziness on the screen. The eccentric family and their friends and neighbors create a very interesting and enjoyable read. Is all of it true? Well, I’m thinking there is some exaggeration here and there!

I confess that I wish I had an adventure like moving to Corfu when I was growing up. My childhood was good … but perhaps not the most exciting in the world. It would have been lovely to have moved to a beautiful island and soaked in another culture. It would have been eye-opening to break out of my traditional and safe life to experience something completely different. Though, I have to say, I’d want fewer insects in my adventure but just as much laughter.

The descriptions of the animals living not just on the island but in every room of their house were fantastic. Gerry’s love of animals – all animals – and desire to know more about them was really wonderful, though we might go about it differently today. He caught animals and brought them home so that he could study them. Today, we would probably encourage leaving the animals, reptiles and insects in their homes! He was so passionate about them even at a young age. It’s amazing how free he was to explore … in the context of today’s world it’s almost unbelievable.

What was always interesting about the Durrells was that they seemed to be so engaged with each other and with life. The family members all have interesting personalities and bring something speacial to the table. The book has been described as hilarious, with laugh-out-loud funny moments – from my perspective, those are not exaggerations. Although his brother Lawrence (Larry) was the serious author in the family, Gerry is a wonderful storyteller. His descriptions put the reader right there with them on Corfu. I loved reading about them, though I’m not sure I would have wanted to live next door to them – some of the wildlife (and certainly their aromas) must have strayed a bit from their enclosures! This is a fun one that I will read again.

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