My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell 1956
My interest in Durrell began on our trip this fall when we landed in Corfu, a large island off the Greek and Albanian coast in the Ionian Sea. There, in the main park of the town, were statues of Gerald and Lawrence Durrell. The brothers were brought to Corfu by their widowed mother in 1935 when Gerald was 10 and they lived in various villas for four years before returning to war-time London. Gerald’s book is delightful and laugh-out loud funny in parts as he relates the story of his three siblings and their mother as they discover the challenges but mostly joys of this fantastic island. The ten year old Gerald’s main occupations were entertaining Larry’s friends who were writers, poets, artists, and other Bohemians of the ’30’s and exploring Corfu’s natural history with his friend, the natural scientist Theordore Stephanides. The book is not strictly accurate (e.g. there’s no mention of Larry’s wife!) but we are treated to delightful anecdotes about how Gerald’s scorpions, tortoises, snakes, magpies, black-backed gull, owl, and other creatures disrupted the household much to Gerald’s delight. The youngest Durrell went on to become a spokesperson and activist for animal and nature conservation establishing a humane zoo on the Isle of Jersey and forming a foundation that continues to this day. This is a grand story which has been adapted to TV and cinema. The book would make a perfect gift for the young, budding naturalist in your life. It’s also would provide a delightful interlude for us adults!