I have to confess this is a book I read a long time ago and when I saw it on the list I couldn’t help choosing it. I heard about Gerald Durrell because of her Brother Lawrence, Larry in the book, as he was the author of two popular novels the “Alexandria Tercet” and the “Avignon quintet”. Before reading Gerald’s book U had read his brother Lawrence first and I found them not easy to read as most of its characters were difficult. I was living in Wales and the landlady I was living with told me I should read some English novels to improve my English. Ofcourse the list she gave me included Jane Austen and Bronthe’s books, but among them she suggested “My family and other animals” . When I read it I was shocked by the fact that the two brothers with a similar education could write and behaved in such a different way. In fact Lawrence had a difficult life and ended living in France ( he never wanted to be English citizen) and full of controversy. Gerald devoted all his life to animals and his foundation in the island of jersey where he was buried.
The book reminded me of my own childhood in Menorca, where we used to spend my summer holidays. My father had his family house in the middle of the island and it was surrounded by a beautiful landscape that ended in the sea. Our holidays were long and hot, the house was full of children ( we are five brothers and sisters and six cousins more) and never saw other people apart from the peasant living in the area. We didn’t see cars or roads as we were isolated and the only way to come or leave was by taxi. We used to spend our holidays playing, going to the “cala” beach ( by those times empty ) and of course in contact with nature. We had animals too, my father was a great fun of them and we have always had one dog, parrot, hamsters, mice, turtles ….appart from the chickens, porks and cows the farmers had. As you can see it was easy to understand why I was identified with Gerry since the first moment
Gerald Durrell was born in India on 7th January and died in 1995. He was a naturalist, zookeeper, conservationist and TV presenter. He founded the “Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust” on the Channel Island of Jersey. According his social status, his father was an Engeneer, he spent most of his time with an Ayah and it was during a visit to an Indian zoo that he became interested in animals.
In 1928, after his father death; the family moved to England where they lived until 1935 that went to live to the Island of Corfu. In 1939 the family came back to England at the outbreak of the second world war. Finding a job was difficult on those times, specially for a boy who had been home educated, so Gerald had to start working in a shop pet and in an aquarium. In 1945 he was called for war but he was exempted on medical grounds. After the War Durrell started working at the Whip Shade zoo and he fulfilled his lifelong dream: work with animals. Later he started his expeditions and his career as a conservationist. He wrote several books, being the first “Myfamily and other animals” which became a best seller in Britain in 1956.
He married twice ( Jackie and lee) and both were important support in his career. He finally died in 1997 after severe health problems, his ashes were buried in Jersey zoo under a memorial plaque that says:
“The beauty and genius of a work of art may be re-conceived, though the first material expression be destroyed; a varied harmony may yet again inspire the composer, but when the last individual of a race of living beings breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again. “
Is dedicated to his mother.
The book is the portrait of the author’s childhood on the island of Corfú.
Quotation: Alice through the looking glass by Lewis Carroll ( sequel of Alice in Wonder lasnd)
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”
The mirror here as the symbol of what he is doing in his books: a self portrait and all the incredible things he is going to narrate.