Incidentally, the card in the picture below was painted by my mother before her Macular Degeneration became too advanced.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
All in all, a cute story. Gerald Durrell, about twenty years after the fact, hearkens back to a segment of his childhood that was spent on the island of Corfu. The year is 1935 and WWII is gathering like storm clouds on the horizon but you won't get any hint of that in this story.
When he is ten years old, Gerald's family, which includes his widowed mother, brothers Larry and Leslie, sister Margo and a dog named Roger pack up and move to the island of Corfu.
You must erase from your mind the overcrowded tourist-stricken Corfu of today and imagine a virgin island with old world charm.
Uh, and also old world primitivism. After finally finding a villa with indoor plumbing or at least a bathroom that doesn't require a trip to the beach, the Durrells settle in.
We soon are acquainted with peasants and villagers, all who are friendly and hospitable. As an example, Gerald, one afternoon finds himself far from home and ravenous so he simply wakes up a friendly neighbor (by sending his dog barking like a maniac to the man's porch) who immediately shares his own repast of cheese, grapes and wine with him.
Gerald enjoys the people, enjoys his eccentric family (because he is equally eccentric), the peculiar people his mother assigns to tutor him (Theodore a diffident scientist in love with puns and corny jokes, Katelvsky, owner of many birds and even larger owner of romantic fantasies of which he plays the hero saving a lovely lady, and Peter, alas, Peter did not last long due to his "inappropriate interest in sister Margo- and her equally inappropriate interest in Peter) and most of all the animal life.
Gerald's story flows back and forth like a warm Mediterranean tide between his adventures in capturing animals (magpies, a ferocious seagull, a lumbering turtle, a large assortment of insects) and his family and friends.
His stories are told with charm and with the innocence of childhood, which is no small accomplishment since Durrell was no longer a child when he wrote the story.
For people interested in a time long past as well as natural history this is an enjoyable little read.
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