About Me

My photo
Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Monday, 9 July 2018

"Birds, Beasts and Relatives" by Gerald Durrell

This is the sequel to My Family and Other Animals and it contains the stories that were left out of the first volume but which can nevertheless be very funny. Thus we learn of the wedding and accouchment of Katerina, Gerry going fishing with a convicted murderer and catching cuttlefish with love, Corfiot justice as arranged by Spiro, Margo's spiritualist diet, gay Sven and his accordion, Max and Donald, the wonderfully lecherous Captain Creech, the recluse Countess who argues with her servant, and the gypsy with the talking head and the dancing bear. I laughed out loud on several occasions.

Every chapter is introduced with passages of beautiful description. There is lots of interesting natural history. But, as before, the stars are the wonderfully bonkers members of the Durrell family:

  • Larry has a brilliant line in acerbity: 
    • The entire population of the British Isles seems to do absolutely nothing from one year’s end to another except shuffle around in small circles sneezing voluptuously into each other's faces ... a sort of merry-go-round of reinfection.” (p 314)
    • "I am not going to be turned into an early Christian martyr at my time of life." (p 531)
  • Margo merges and mangles proverbs: 
    • "There's many a slip without a stitch." (p 427)
    • "There are no bricks without fire." (p 446)

Some of the wonderful moments:
  • "'You mean he's a philatelist?' said Larry at length. 'No, no, Master Larrys,' said Spiro. 'He's not one of them. He's a married man and he's got two children.'" (p 426)
  • "Andreas was a gay, kind-hearted, exuberant boy who inevitably managed to do the wrong things. They said of him in the village that he would ride a donkey backwards if he could." (p 462)He tries to fish with a stick of dynamite but after he lights the fuse the fish swim away so he rows after them still holding the dynamite ...
  • "It smelt as strongly of garlic as a peasant bus on market day." (p 464)
  • "Half-asleep and still bee-drowsy from the liquor I had consumed." (p 494)
  • "'Strumpets! How lovely! Donald, we have strumpets for tea'. 'Crumpets,' corrected Donald. 'They're scones,' said Mother. 'I remember a strumpet in Montevideo', said Captain Creech. 'Marvellous bitch. Kept the whole ship entertained for two days. They don't breed them with stamina like that nowadays.'" (p 510)
  • "limericks of such biological complexity that, fortunately, Mother could not understand them." (p 511)
  • "'I'm a bit too old to have babies,' said Captain Creech. The padre's wife choked. 'But', he went on with satisfaction, 'I have a lot of fun trying'." (p 511)
  • "Two hedgehogs, drunks 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." (p 522)
  • "The grapes ... looked like the jade eggs of some strange sea-monster." (p 540)
  • "As the wine fermented in their brown bellies, the barrels gurgled and squeaked and growled at each other like an angry mob." (p 546)

Beautiful descriptions, wonderful characterisations, hilarious comedy. July 2018

Followed by another slice of hilarity: The Garden of the Gods

Another, perhaps even better, memoir of Greek Island life, this time on Symi in the Dodecannese, is Bus Stop Symi by William Travis.

No comments:

Post a Comment