My childhood in Corfu shaped my life If I had the craft of Merlin, I would give every child the gift of my childhoodGerald DurrellCorfu, Greece, as seen through the eyes of Gerry Durrell, had me digging around for my passport What a breathtaking world when viewed through his eyes The animals and other creepy crawlies were enough to keep me reading, but when he delved into the riotously rich characters, I was captivated The island lies off the Albanian and Greek coast lines like a long, rust eroded scimitar That August, when we arrived, the island lay breathless and sun drugged in the smouldering, peacock blue sea under a sky that had faded to a pale powder blue by the fierce rays of the sun Birds, Beasts and Relatives is the second book in the trilogy Yes, I started with this book instead of the first one I should be banned from reading any series I always start somewhere in the middle Still, I had no trouble diving right in and polished off all 294 pages in the space of an afternoon I simply couldn t stop The writing is deliciously cinematic I could hear each character as I basked in the sights, sounds and smells of the island Gerry allowed me to accompany him on his daily ventures, watching him as he absorbed himself in the discovery of nature His free spirited escapades were to the vexation of his family, who wanted no part of the zoo he was building in his room I don t think it s a good idea for you to write this book, Gerry I second that, said Larry If you publish we ll sue you in a body Faced with such a firm and united family, bristling in their resolve to prevent me at all costs, there was only one thing I could do I sat down and wrote this book.The humor, intertwined with the family theatre, and the island natives intriguing ways had me rolling with laughter The characters are full of life and I feel that I know each of them personally.I will admit that the bugs on the cover gave me pause However, to my delight, it s not just about the creatures, and I learned about the beasts of the earth than I ever imagined This boy s curious mind had me interested as well It took me back to my youth when the world seemed magical It s something we lose as time marches on, and it s a shame Gerald Durrell s prose is gloriously vibrant, his dialogue on point I couldn t have asked for I left the last pages wrapped in the warm fuzzy glow of this family s splendid life.Heart warming, deep and hilarious, the story reminded me to see the magic in everyday things with a childlike curiosity and to laugh often As a result, I will forever be a fan of Gerald Durrell.I recommend Birds, Beasts and Relatives to readers of any age It s absolutely charming I loved this book two kept the magic going Makes me want to move to Corfu in those simpler times Gerry is 10 in this novel and spends all his time as a budding naturalist, exploring the island and brining home crazy pets The funniest parts were some of his animals escapades such as when he dissected a dead turtle on the porch, or dragged a bear into the house both had me cracking up.But as with the first book, what is magical about this book are just the descriptions of life in Corfu from the locals, to the zany characters that visit the family, to the simply peaceful descriptions of their life The sea played on the beach as though it were an instrument I lay and dozed for a time in the warm shallows and then, feeling heavy with sleep, I made my way back into the olive groves Everyone lay about disjointedly, sleeping round the ruins of our meal It looked like the aftermath of some terrible battle I curled up like a dormouse in the protective roots of a great olive and drifted off to sleep myself. It takes me awhile to finish Durrell s books They re not meant to be hurried through When I do finish I m a little sad, because I want him to just keep telling me and stories I was afraid this one might not measure up to the first one, My Family and Other Animals But this second one was every bit as enchanting and entertaining as the first The two books give an account of the years the Durrell family spent living on the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930s Gerry was the youngest in his family by a far margin, and was only about 10 years old when they moved from England to Greece He spent these years as a budding naturalist, roaming the island collecting specimens and pets of every variety insects, reptiles, birds, mammals, and sea creatures To his family s dismay, he brought most of these critters home to live in his indoor menagerie More often than not there were disastrous and or hilarious results.Meanwhile, Gerry s mother, sister, and brothers entertained a colorful variety of visitors both local and foreign Some of the zaniest parts of the book are these visitor escapades I must say, many of these characters were fun to read about but I don t think I d want them around for long A little too much of the wrong kind of excitement for me I envy Gerald Durell s idyllic youth in such a specatular setting These are two books I will read again. Like a gentle sea breeze, Gerald Durrell has created a setting that is meditative, soothing and pure pleasure His ability to share the humor and quirkiness of his family and friends with the idyllic beauty of Greece and its bountiful creatures is perfect The Angry Barrels , the last chapter in this second book of the trilogy, exemplifies the carefree, bountiful, pre war life the Durrell s have stumbled upon It is a beautiful portrait This is guilty pleasure reading for me and fulfills my need for all things Greek. Part Coming Of Age Autobiography And Part Nature Guide, Gerald Durrell S Dazzling Sequel To My Family And Other Animals Is Based On His Boyhood On Corfu, From To Originally Published In But Long Out Of Print, Birds, Beasts And Relatives Is Filled With Charming Observations, Amusing Anecdotes, Boyhood Memories, And Childlike Wonder Birds, Beasts and Relatives is the second of three books in Gerald Durrell s Corfu Trilogy All three books cover the five years that the Durrell family spent on Corfu, an idyll sadly interrupted by World War II My review of the first book in the series, My Family and Other Animals, pretty much sums up my delight in all three books although, I must say, the first book was magical However, I found myself again laughing out loud at so many of the episodes as Gerry s animals and insects take over their house, and at conversations among the family and with their friends especially Spiro Gerald Durrell had a wonderful gift for humorous dialogue Even the preface is funny as his family tries to dissuade him from writing another book about their time on Corfu His two brothers and sister didn t care much for his depictions of them to say the least Durrell s descriptions of Corfu, everything from animal and insect life he was a well known naturalist and conservationist of endangered species to descriptions of the island and their friends and neighbors make it easy to see why the Durrell family loved this enchanted island and probably would never have left had not the war started Again, I envisioned myself on Corfu, next door to the Durrells in the 1930s what a lovely daydream Isn t it amazing the way a book can transport us through time and space to another world. So when I began listening to this, the second of Gerald Durrell s Corfu Trilogy,I was thinking this is supposed to be funny, but then I actually caught myself smiling By the end, when this family had thoroughly taken me in, I was laughing outright Here, in this book, the naturalist, conservationist and author writes of his youth in Corfu during the thirties This is a very Victorian, English family, and I don t usually enjoy the formality and stiffness of Victorian s Yet this family is anything but stiff The author makes insects and spiders and snails and fish, well, exceptionally interesting His love for all varieties of animals shines through in his writing These spiders, these insects, and even the ugliest of fish somehow seem marvelous and, yes, downright beautiful Did you know that a snail is BOTH male and female and mating is quite magical The male part of each snail shoots out a calcium composed arrow into the female part of the other snail They are drawn together closer and closer They tingle.and the arrows dissolve That is sex for a snail Amazing Interesting and funny are the words I would use to describe this book The bizarre antics of this family are amusing, and the dialogs between siblings are real not sweet talk for a book, but the real thing Larry, Gerald s older brother, he does not mince words The audiobook is narrated by Nigel Davenport, and he is so British In a good way The characters in this book, well they are characters their personalities are adroitly reflected in their respective voices There is a Swede and visitors from other diverse countries you ve quite simply got to hear this Good lines and good narration What a family Did you know that it is Gerald s brother, Larry, or Lawrence, who wrote the Alexandria Quartet I will be reading that soon too Completely different personalities and completely different writing styles Tell me are you similar to your siblings I am not So why should they be It is interesting to look at the family that produced these two authors. This was my personal favourite of Gerald Durrell s works that I read as a child It is as wittily dry as My Family and Other Animals and the prose is also as rich and lush Where Durrell excels, and what I remember him for, is in how he creates an entire book consisting of fragments of short stories It really reads as an entire story chronicling his life, though many details are no doubt highly exaggerated If you are a fan of humour, autobiographies, short stories and full novels then this is the book for you It is a classic in my mind, a book that like the first, everyone should read.Gerald Durrell in this book continues where he left off with his first um, novel volume The opening story, which follows a kind of foreword depicting Durrell s decision to write a sequel, is brilliantly humorous and serves to draw you into the rest of the novel This story as I recall is about Durrell s sister attempting to lose weight medically and ending up getting involved in seances Which all ends up brilliantly chaotic Since this is a book that is autobiographical in nature it tends to jump from story to story with connecting threads between them It s really a journal that follows the life of one young naturalist as he discovers the creatures around him including the ones he lives with and the strange friends of his siblings Sadly this book is currently out of print and I no longer own a copy But no doubt there are copies floating around available for people to get their hands on And if you do get your hands on these books they are worth it, so very worth it The writing remains with me and the character depictions remain with me to this day This is a book about the ordinariness and the extraordinariness of life, the adventures we go on and the characters we meet It is one of the best autobiographical type books I have ever read and I give it the highest recommendation. This book contains, for my money, quite possibly the funniest scene in the English language The characters are the author s family and friends and they are characters in every sense of the word along with the various fauna of Corfu and, truthfully, the island itself Durrell used the proceeds from his writing to found and nurture the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, the first zoo in the world founded specifically for the breeding and conservation of endangered species Should you ever be in the neighborhood of the English Channel, it is well worth a visit The Trust hosts international trainng programs for the conservation and care of endangered species It is a revelation of what a zoo can be and, so often, isn t.I was probably around ten or twelve when I first read this book Any kid who spends much time looking under rocks will enjoy it As a bonus, the sentence structure and vocabulary undoubtedly with a little help from Georgette Heyer got me through my SAT verbal with flying colors Adults are cautioned to read it privately, unless you want to explain repeatedly why you are laughing hysterically. This book is beautiful, funny, full of reverence, mischief and curiosity I can t say I loved it as much as the first book of the Corfu trilogy, but maybe that is only because I am no longer surprised by Durrell s storytelling skills.Some of my favorite comic scenes the arrival of Max and Donald and the whole first encounter brilliant The story of Sally the donkey Gerry s meal with Countess Mavrodaki The London interlude and encounter with Mrs Haddock I also really loved reading about the grape harvest, wine making, night fishing encounters with hedgehogs, seahorses, diving bell spiders, migrating eels, barn owls, scorpion fish, Pavlo the bear, I could go on and on But rather than do that, I will post below some passages I thought were particularly striking and that s all for now.One day we had one of those freak storms when the sky turned blue black and the lightning fretted a silver filigree across it And then had come the rain great, fat, heavy drops, as warm as blood When the storm had passed, the sky had been washed to the clear blue of a hedge sparrow s egg and the damp earth sent out wonderfully rich, almost gastronomic smells as of fruit cake or plum pudding and the olive trunks steamed as the rain was dried off them by the sun, each trunk looking as though it were on fire Now winter was upon us Everything was redolent with the smoke of olive wood fires The shutters creaked and slapped the sides of the house as the wind caught them, and the birds and leaves were tumbled across a dark lowering sky The brown mountains of the mainland wore tattered caps of snow and the rain filled the eroded, rocky valleys, turning them into foaming torrents that fled eagerly to the sea carrying mud and debris with them Once they reached the sea they spread like yellow veins through the blue water, and the surface was dotted with squill bulbs, logs and twisted branches, dead beetles and butterflies, clumps of brown grass and splintered canes Storms would be brewed in among the whitened spikes of the Albanian mountains and then tumble across to us, great black piles of cumulus, spitting a stinging rain, with sheet lightning blooming and dying like yellow ferns across the sky.Summer gaped upon the island like the mouth of a great oven Even in the shade of the olive groves it was not cool and the incessant, penetrating cries of the cicadas seemed to swell and become insistent with each hot, blue noon The water in the ponds and ditches shrank and the mud at the edges became jigsawed, cracked and curled by the sun The sea lay as breathless and still as a bale of silk, the shallow waters too warm to be refreshing You had to row the boat out into deep water, you and your reflection the only moving things, and dive over the side to get cool It was like diving into the sky.It was a bright, clean morning when we set off and it looked as though it were going to be ideal for both sailing and picnicking but by the time we reached the other side of the island and had unpacked the picnic things, it began to look as though we were in for a sirocco Theodore and I made our way down through the trees to the edge of the bay The sea had turned a cold steel grey and the wind had stretched and starched a number of white clouds across the blue sky Suddenly, along the rim of the sea, three water spouts appeared, loping along the horizon like the huge undulating necks of some prehistoric monsters Bowing and swaying, graceful as swans they danced along the horizon and disappeared.There was the time when we watched, entranced, two hedgehogs, drunk as lords on the fallen and semi fermented grapes they had eaten from under the vines, staggering in circles, snapping at each other belligerently, uttering high pitched screams and hiccups There was a time we watched a fox cub, red as an autumn leaf, discover his first tortoise among the heather The tortoise, in the phlegmatic way they have, folded himself up in his shell, tightly closed as a portmanteau But the fox had seen a movement and, prick eared, it moved round him cautiously Then, for it was still only a puppy, it dabbed quickly at the tortoise s shell with its paw and then jumped away, expecting retaliation Then it lay down and examined the tortoise for several minutes, its head between its paws Finally it went forward rather gingerly and after several unsuccessful attempts managed to pick the tortoise up with its jaws, and with head held high, trotted off proudly through the heather It was on these hills that we watched the baby tortoises hatching out of their papery shelled eggs, each one looking as wizened and as crinkled as though it were a thousand years old at the moment of birth, and it was here that I witnessed for the first time the mating dance of the snakes.
Lawrence Durrell, Leslie Durrell, and
- 248 pages
- Birds, Beasts and Relatives
- Gerald Durrell
- 09 December 2017 Gerald Durrell