Book Review: My Family and Other Animals

My Family and Other Animals is Gerald Durrell‘s memoir (or actually, one of them) of his childhood on the Greek island of Corfu. I had read it as a child, and I’m happy to report that it remains engaging and entertaining over twenty years later.

Durrell moved to Corfu with his eccentric family at the age of eight, and spent most of his time observing and capturing the local wildlife. The book is evenly split between accounts of his outdoor adventures and anecdotes about his family and other residents of the island. He is excellent at capturing the wonder and excitement of being a young naturalist. In fact, probably better than anyone else I have read. The hijinks of his family and other characters are generally hilarious, and recounted from the perspective of an eight-year-old, which results in a very natural deadpan style.

Durrell went on to become a zookeeper, conservationist and host of television documentaries. His concept of the zoo as primarily a “stationary ark” rather than an amusement park was ahead of it’s time. My Family and Other Animals recounts the boyhood fascination with nature that continued throughout his life. This book is a must-read for nature lovers, and I think would be quite enjoyable for almost anyone in general.

Thanks to D$ for the book and bringing down to Saint Martin. Also, if you like it, you’re in luck. He’s written loads more books, including two others that chronicle his time on Corfu.

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