Introduced by Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Paul Cox
My Family and Other Animals is Gerald Durrell’s hilarious memoir of his unconventional 1930s Corfu childhood, enriched with illustrations by Paul Cox and an introduction by Michael Morpurgo.
‘… somewhere in that tract of moon-polished water we passed the invisible dividing-line and entered the bright, looking-glass world of Greece.’
‘What we all need,’ said Larry, ‘is sunshine … a country where we can grow.’ When the Durrells leave a grey rain-sodden England and set sail for the Greek island of Corfu life could never be the same again – either for Gerald and his family (‘a travelling circus and staff') or for the unsuspecting locals, drawn into the bohemian eccentricities of clan Durrell.
Gerald, his mother and elder siblings soon settle into the strawberry-pink villa beside the sea, and while Lawrence broods behind his typewriter, Leslie oils his guns and Margo sunbathes with monastic rigour, for 10-year old Gerry, a garden of earthly delights unfolds tantalisingly before him. Days are spent lying on his stomach or ‘wallowing’ in his homemade boat, the Bootle-Bumtrinket, in earnest study of the exotic creatures around him – geckos and glow-worms, owls and octopuses – and in meeting the island’s inhabitants.
Aided by Mother, ‘spectacles askew’ orchestrating a bubbling selection of pots, and guardian angel Spiro (‘leaves everything’s to me – I’ll fix thems’), theirs is a dysfunctional yet lovable household, into which Gerry’s menagerie of ‘small uglies’ spread a good deal of anarchy. Marauding magpies, mischievous puppies and a matchbox full of scorpions are barely more eccentric than their human counterparts.
Gerald Durrell’s much-loved account of his family’s Mediterranean idyll has never failed to entertain, with the book spawning several TV series and a film. And Folio favourite Paul Cox’s sublime illustrations depict Corfu so enticingly that one can almost hear the cicadas and smell the garlic.
‘This is a very wicked, very funny, and I’m afraid rather truthful book.’
As Michael Morpurgo observes, ‘Every one of his characters, animal or human, is so colourful, so deeply engaging. We read the book like a story, see it like a picture. And it is a story and a picture that simply glows.’ From moonlight picnics to swimming with porpoises, My Family and Other Animals recaptures the magic of a childhood you wish had been yours.
Michael Morpurgo, OBE, is a former Children’s Laureate and best-selling author of over 130 books for children, including The Butterfly Lion (1996), Kensuke’s Kingdom (1999) and Private Peaceful (2003). His highly acclaimed novel War Horse (1982) was adapted for the stage in 2007, and released as a film directed by Steven Spielberg in 2012. Morpurgo’s most recent novel is Listen to the Moon (2014).
Please sign in to your account to leave a review for My Family and Other Animals.