Monday 12 May 2008

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 suspect.

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 pics.

It was my birthday on Thursday and I was lucky enough to get some books. 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 a friend. I think I did pretty well for books for my b/day. :-)

Recent buys. 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 so I'm looking forward to trying him. Natural Flights of the Human Mind was a 'ReadItSwapIt' exchange 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.


DesLily said...

well... you shouldn't have to use a library for a while! LOL.. I love seeing when anyone gets books, around here it's called a little "book porn" hehe.. I hope you enjoy all of the books!!!!!

Cath said...

Hi Pat. I can't resist the library either, no matter how many books I own. Sad case that's me. *Extra* sad tonight as I had to have a tooth extracted this afternoon and am feeling rather sorry for myself. Thanks again for the lovely virtual b/day card!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your treasures with us and a very happy belated birthday to you!! Hope your next year is full of great reading!

I also visited the dentist today, so I am there with you in spirit. The numbness is wearing off and I'm beginning to ache a bit.

Susie Vereker said...

Hello from a newish blogger (an author beginning with V!)

It's ages since I read Gerald Durrell - thanks for reminding me about him. I also loved his brother's Esprit de Corps etc.

Am now resolved to re-sort my books so I can find all these treasures more easily.

monix said...

Belated birthday greetings, Cath. Your family obviously gave you the best kind of day with all those books.

I don't think I own any Gerald Durrell books, although I am sure I read some many years ago - I must have been using the library, too. You have whetted my appetite and he's going on my wishlist.

Cath said...

Thanks, Kay, that's very nice of you.

I hope your gums are feeling better now? Mine are still a little achey but I am able to eat properly once again.

Hello, Susie, welcome to my blog. Nice to meet an author who begins with 'V'. Your books sound fascinating so I'll probably be getting them at some point.

Gerald Durrell is well worth a revisit. I knew his books were excellent but somehow it was still a surprise to discover *how* good they are. Have fun reorganising!

Thanks, Maureen. Yes, my family know exactly what I like.

This copy of My Family is going spare if you would like it? It's a good copy but no illustrations, sadly. I've just won a hardback copy on eBay. E.mail me at with your address if you're interested, if not ignore me. :-)

Eloise said...

A belated happy birthday! Looks like a good haul, especially the Just Williams.

Cath said...

Thanks, Eloise.

Yes, I'm really pleased with the Just William books. I'd forgotten how wonderfully funny they are and think I appreciate them more now than when I was young.

Nan said...

A late, though heartfelt, Happy Birthday, Cath!

Cath said...

Thanks, Nan, that's very kind of you.

Nan said...

I don't know if you get notifications of comments on old postings, but I remembered you liked Gerald Durrell and I've just watched the first episode of The Durrells on ITV and I wonder if you've seen it. One of the most perfect programs Tom and I have seen. Lovely in every way.

Cath said...

Nan: Yes, I do get notifications of comments on old posts. We love The Durrells as well, such beautiful TV to sit and relax to on a Sunday evening. The cast is perfect.

Robert Eggleton said...

I tried to email you but it bounce back.