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Birds, Beasts and Relatives PDF, ePub eBook 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 1933 to 1939. Originally published in 1969 but long out of print, Birds, Beasts and Relatives is filled with charming observations, amusing anecdotes, boyhood memories, and childlike wonder.

30 review for Birds, Beasts and Relatives

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Ansbro

    "Gollys, Mrs Durrells," he said, his face red with wrath. "Why don'ts yous lets Masters Leslies shoot the son of a bitch?" In life, Gerald Durrell would light up a room. His books elicit that same, warm feeling. His affection for the natural world lives on in the minds of those of us, who for decades, have enjoyed his magical stories. This is the second part of his Corfuan trilogy, continuing on from where My Family and Other Animals left off. The bohemian Durrells have eschewed middle-class Eng "Gollys, Mrs Durrells," he said, his face red with wrath. "Why don'ts yous lets Masters Leslies shoot the son of a bitch?" In life, Gerald Durrell would light up a room. His books elicit that same, warm feeling. His affection for the natural world lives on in the minds of those of us, who for decades, have enjoyed his magical stories. This is the second part of his Corfuan trilogy, continuing on from where My Family and Other Animals left off. The bohemian Durrells have eschewed middle-class English suburbia for an unconventional life in idyllic Corfu. As in the first book, a procession of oddballs, fruit cakes and misfits turn up at their villa. Best supporting character award goes to leathery-faced Spiro, whose pidgin English sounds exactly like Stavros the kebab seller from a 1980s UK comedy sketch show. "Honest to Gods, Mrs Durells, makes me scarce what that boy finds." Fans of Durrell already know of his transcendent skill for observational detail. For example, there's Mrs Haddock, the spiritualist, who is incapable of breathing while speaking, andwhosewordslatchtogether like a daisy chain. And here he describes the beginning of his memorable meal at the Venetian-style villa of eccentric Countess Mavrodiki: The first course that Demetrios-Mustapha set before us was a fine, clear soup, sequinned with tiny golden bubbles of fat, with fingernail-sized croutons floating like crisp little rafts on an amber sea. How overlooked is Durrell as a writer? Seriously, how many writers today can compete with that? This bacchanalian feast continued until his pants were fit to burst, and was washed down with red wine which was as dark as the heart of a dragon. Other characters include Captain Creech, the salty sea dog whose incautious, uncivil bonhomie (even in the politest of company) revolves around tales of Montevidean strumpets and rampant gonorrhoea! This trilogy was a standard school read for British kids of my generation and there is absolutely no reason why his books cannot be read by adults. His writing is evidently better than most of the dross that is out there now. If you haven't yet familiarised yourself with Gerald Durrell, and are wasting your time reading books that have men on the cover who, for some reason, have misplaced their shirts, then please find the time to do so. Not only was he a truly gifted writer, he was also a wonderful, wonderful human being!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kimber Silver

    "My childhood in Corfu shaped my life. If I had the craft of Merlin, I would give every child the gift of my childhood." —Gerald Durrell Corfu, 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 "My childhood in Corfu shaped my life. If I had the craft of Merlin, I would give every child the gift of my childhood." —Gerald Durrell Corfu, 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 more 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 more. 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!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"

    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 more and more 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 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 more and more 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Judith E

    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 ne 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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    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 ov 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    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 - 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."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    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 mores. Yet this family is an 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 mores. 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    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 th 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 more 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Terrington

    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 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    This memoir is totally addicting and I loved being back with the eccentric Durrell family. No matter how ridiculous things managed to get for them and the real characters that they meet you can't help but smile. Overall, I don't think I fell in love with book two to the same degree as I did for the first in the trilogy, but it was still wonderful. I need to try book three, The Garden of the Gods soon.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kspeare

    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 i 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I love Durrell. Can I please move to Corfu?

  13. 4 out of 5

    QNPoohBear

    Another memoir about naturalist Gerald Durrell's childhood spent on the Greek island of Corfu before World War II. This memoir is written so that those who haven't read the first volume can read this without a problem. Gerry is less specific with his time frame here. He relates an anecdote about his birthday BEFORE he met Theo, before he had a boat. Here we find out how Gerry met Theo and all the animals they collect. Gerry is really too much! I don't know how his mother could stand having all t Another memoir about naturalist Gerald Durrell's childhood spent on the Greek island of Corfu before World War II. This memoir is written so that those who haven't read the first volume can read this without a problem. Gerry is less specific with his time frame here. He relates an anecdote about his birthday BEFORE he met Theo, before he had a boat. Here we find out how Gerry met Theo and all the animals they collect. Gerry is really too much! I don't know how his mother could stand having all those creatures around. As in the first book, he annoys his siblings with his collection. The animals I liked the best were the hedgehogs. I also loved Sally the donkey but felt sorry for her. I didn't care for the lengthy observation of the dung beetles near the beginning or the mating habits of snails and snakes. I did love the "episode" with the bear and the Durrells reaction. It was priceless! Larry's friends pop in and out for visits, including Sven, a large accordion-playing Swede who stays briefly and returns to his lover in Athens! Spoiler for the TV series season 1 (view spoiler)[Obviously the screenwriters turned that anecdote into a major storyline. (hide spoiler)] Also briefly appearing are Larry's friends Max and Donald. This is the funniest "episode" in the book. Max makes me laugh with his devotion to "Muzzer." There's also Captain Creech. If you've seen the TV series-he's even WORSE in the book! Completely inappropriate and disgusting and yet one of the funniest sections of the book. The other "episode" I found amusing and engrossing is Margo's visit to London and her involvement in the spiritualist community. There is some racism here but it's not the worst that comes out of this time period. Margo's spirit guide is so funny! This book could have used a bit more editing. Here Gerry's mother is called Louise where she is really Louisa and the maid here is Lucretia and not Lugaretzia, the way she is in the first book. Also Margo is referred to as Margaret a lot and I got confused. This book wasn't quite as good as the first one but I plan to read the third one and a book of Gerry's stories. I think his fiction writing skills are better than his nature writing!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    Having read the first installment "My Family and other Animals" quite recently I was looking forward to reading more about the young Durrell and his hilariously eccentric family. Continuing the story of Gerry Durrells life on the island of Corfu` As with the first memoir Gerald Durrell demonstrates how his fascination - verging on obsession with all creatures began, and how it really is no surprise that he became the man that he did. His enthusiasm for even the most unappealing creatures is quit Having read the first installment "My Family and other Animals" quite recently I was looking forward to reading more about the young Durrell and his hilariously eccentric family. Continuing the story of Gerry Durrells life on the island of Corfu` As with the first memoir Gerald Durrell demonstrates how his fascination - verging on obsession with all creatures began, and how it really is no surprise that he became the man that he did. His enthusiasm for even the most unappealing creatures is quite infectious. In this book we meet again the marvelous Spiro, a whole host of entertaining creatures including Sally the donkey, some tragic baby hedgehogs and a barn owl. We also meet Larry's friends Max and Donald a reclusive countess and the highly amusing but slightly repulsive Captain Creech. I must say I did frequently find myself laughing out loud at some of the antics of Gerry, his pets and various members of his highly entertaining family. These memoirs do make a childhood in the days before WW2 on the island of Corfu appear totally idyllic. I do have the third volume of this memoir, and I suspect it will not be all that long before I read that too. Admittedly this isn't quite as sparklingly wonderful as "My family and other Animals" but it is still fabulous and thoroughly enjoyable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This second book of Gerald Durrell's Corfu trilogy isn't quite as good as the first one ("My Family and Other Animals"). However, if you like his style of writing this is worth reading. It has plenty of natural history, funny anecdotes and quirky personalities, making it a pleasant and quick read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the second book of the "Corfu trilogy" which I am loving even more. Its sequel is The Garden of the Gods.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    What a charming, witty and warm book. I have loved 'My Family and Other Animals' now for so long I can hardly remember but oddly enough had never dipped into parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy so evocatively written by Gerald Durrell. His sheer joy and love of life and his hugely eccentric family living in pre-war Corfu with seemingly no cares in the world comes through in waves of deliciously written prose. Its so gorgeous its a bit like treating yourself to a knickerbocker glory when you fancy an ic What a charming, witty and warm book. I have loved 'My Family and Other Animals' now for so long I can hardly remember but oddly enough had never dipped into parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy so evocatively written by Gerald Durrell. His sheer joy and love of life and his hugely eccentric family living in pre-war Corfu with seemingly no cares in the world comes through in waves of deliciously written prose. Its so gorgeous its a bit like treating yourself to a knickerbocker glory when you fancy an ice cream! The same joyous characters from part 1 are still there including prim cookery-mad Mother, acne ridden Margo, brothers including poetic and melodramatic Larry (the writer Lawrence Durrell)and ballistic-crazed Leslie, Corfiot friends Spiro and Theodore also not to forget the dogs Roger, Widdle and Puke to complete the cast. There are some new and wonderful characters to add to this list of course, not least a new host of weird and wonderful wildlife for the young Gerald to study and marvel over. I have been to Corfu myself a few years ago and it is a very green and special place, full of olive trees, beautiful beaches and coves oozing with wildlife and I would love to go back even more now, such is the appeal of Durrell's memories. Same as last time, I was at times, laughing out loud throughout the wonderful tales of characters and creatures in this book. I was worried that it wouldnt live up to my memories of the first book, however, I needn't have - this is simply an extension, a continuation of the same story. Its rich, witty, full of life and joy. To be savoured so go on, treat yourself!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    '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. If you've ever read "My Family and other Animals" then you can also delight in more from Corfu. This is the second part of the series. The setting... Our reasons for packing up and leaving the gloomy '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. If you've ever read "My Family and other Animals" then you can also delight in more from Corfu. This is the second part of the series. The setting... Our reasons for packing up and leaving the gloomy shores of England were somewhat nebulous, but based loosely on the fact that we were tired of the drab suburbanness of life in England and its accompanying bleak and unpleasant climate. So we had fled to Corfu, hoping that the sunshine of Greece would cure us of the mental and physical inertia which so long a sojourn in England had brought about. Very soon after we had landed, we had acquired our first villa and our first friend on the island. The friend was Spiro, a waddling, barrel-shaped man with huge powerful hands and a brown, leathery, scowling face. He had perfected an odd but adequate command over English and he possessed an ancient Dodge which he used as a taxi. We soon found that Spiro, like most of the Corfu characters, was unique. There seemed to be no one that he did not know and nothing that he could not obtain or get done for you. Even the most bizarre requests from the family would be met by him with the remark, ‘Don’ts yous worries about thats. I’ll fixes thats.’ And fix it he would. Surprise... ‘Mornings, Masters Gerrys. ’Thinking, in my innocence, that Spiro would share my enthusiasm for my latest pet, I pushed the jam jar under his nose and urged him to feast his eyes upon it. He took one swift look at the centipede, now going round and round in the bottom of the jar like a clock-work train, dropped the mail on the floor, and retreated hurriedly behind the kitchen table. ‘Gollys, Masters Gerrys,’ he said, ‘what’s you doing with thats?’ I explained it was only a centipede, puzzled at his reaction. ‘Thems bastards are poisonous, Mrs Durrells,’ said Spiro earnestly, to Mother. ‘Honest to Gods Masters Gerrys shouldn’t have things like thats.’ ‘Well, perhaps not,’ said Mother vaguely. ‘But he’s so interested in all these things. Take it outside, dear, where Spiro can’t see it.’ 'Makes me scarce,’ I heard Spiro say as I left the kitchen with my precious jar. ‘Honest to Gods, Mrs Durrells, makes me scarce what that boy finds.’ Lost in Translation... Mother’s battle with the Greek language was a losing one. Only the day previously she had spent an exhausting morning preparing a particularly delicious soup for lunch, and having concluded this to her satisfaction, she put it into a soup tureen and handed it to the maid. The maid looked at her inquiringly, whereupon Mother used one of the few Greek words that she had managed to commit to memory. ‘Exo,’ she had said firmly, waving her arms. ‘Exo.’ She then went on with her cooking and turned round just in time to see the maid pouring the last of the soup down the sink. This had, not unnaturally, given her a phobia about her linguistic abilities. How to raise a family of snails... ‘You mean to say that each snail is both a male and a female?’ ‘Yes, indeed,’ said Theodore, adding with masterly understatement, ‘it’s very curious.’ ‘Good God,’ cried Larry. ‘I think it’s unfair. All those damned slimy things wandering about seducing each other like mad all over the bushes, and having the pleasures of both sensations. Why couldn’t such a gift be given to the human race? That’s what I want to know.’ ‘Aha, yes. But then you would have to lay eggs,’ Theodore pointed out. ‘True,’ said Larry, ‘but what a marvelous way of getting out of cocktail parties – “I’m terribly sorry I can’t come,” you would say. “I’ve got to sit on my eggs.” ’Theodore gave a little snort of laughter.‘But snails don’t sit on their eggs,’ he explained. ‘They bury them in damp earth and leave them.’ ‘The ideal way of bringing up a family,’ said Mother, unexpectedly but with immense conviction. ‘I wish I’d been able to bury you all in some damp earth and leave you.’ ‘That’s an extremely harsh and ungrateful thing to say,’ said Larry. ‘You’ve probably given Gerry a complex for the rest of his life.’ Stamp collecting is socially acceptable... Spiro glanced about him to make sure that we weren’t overheard, leaned forward, and whispered, ‘He collects stamps.’ The family looked bewildered.‘ 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 gots two childrens.’ I was the same as Gerry in this book when I was young. I liked collecting animals and so I read "Birds Beasts, and Relatives" primarily for the Birds and the Beasts. Being much older now I take great delight in observing his truly strange family. Enjoy!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Most of the time I overrate books I've just finished, since they often have a positive glow about them that takes a while to fade. And then years later I wonder what I saw in them. With Gerald Durrell, I think it's the opposite--I can remember My Family and Other Animals so well, and I'm sure I sold it short at the time. That book has a durable glow. This one is also glowing: more funny stories about the Durrell family (their time on Corfu retold, with fewer logistics and more anecdotes), the ani Most of the time I overrate books I've just finished, since they often have a positive glow about them that takes a while to fade. And then years later I wonder what I saw in them. With Gerald Durrell, I think it's the opposite--I can remember My Family and Other Animals so well, and I'm sure I sold it short at the time. That book has a durable glow. This one is also glowing: more funny stories about the Durrell family (their time on Corfu retold, with fewer logistics and more anecdotes), the animals Gerry brings home, and the people they meet. Durrell has a vivid eye for the idyllic, and a comic eye for the ludicrous. And a third eye for real life. Lovely like a real summer's day. BTW, I did not watch much of The Durrells in Corfu, the recent BBC/PBS series, but I watched enough to feel that they got the tone of the books exactly wrong. Maybe they got better?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ian Smith

    Sometime between 1969 (when it was published) and 1971, I first read this gorgeous book. How do I know? Because on reading it for the first time, I was enthralled by Durrell's delightful description of discovering 'The Sacred Beetle and Others' by Jean Henri Fabre for the first time. So much so, that when an old version of Fabre's classic - the very same version Durrell describes as 'the squat, green book' - came up for sale in our school library, I immediately bought it. And it cost me 4s 6d - Sometime between 1969 (when it was published) and 1971, I first read this gorgeous book. How do I know? Because on reading it for the first time, I was enthralled by Durrell's delightful description of discovering 'The Sacred Beetle and Others' by Jean Henri Fabre for the first time. So much so, that when an old version of Fabre's classic - the very same version Durrell describes as 'the squat, green book' - came up for sale in our school library, I immediately bought it. And it cost me 4s 6d - so before the switch to decimal currency, ie pre 1971! Fabre and Durrell share three characteristics; a profound love of nature, exceptional powers of observation, and a gift of writing with charm and wit. 'Birds, Beasts and Relatives' is the second of Durrell's 'semi-autobiographical' books on his childhood in Corfu. 'Semi-autobiographical' in that it is simply not possible to recall conversations, meals, people and places with such accurate detail after so many years. So we can presume an element of poetic licence has crept into the tales he tells with such humour and colour. But that doesn't detract in any way from the beauty and joy of this simply lovely book. One to read and read again.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This is the second in a trilogy of books about his childhood on Corfu that Gerald Durrell wrote in part to subsidize his collecting habit. Durrell, the brother of Lawrence Durrell, was an author, naturalist, and conservationist. He founded the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Jersey Zoo. I was first introduced to him by my Seattle grandparents, Wayne and Lorene, who I remember sitting up in their big king-sized bed with me, all of us reading Gerald Durrell books and laughing and stoppi This is the second in a trilogy of books about his childhood on Corfu that Gerald Durrell wrote in part to subsidize his collecting habit. Durrell, the brother of Lawrence Durrell, was an author, naturalist, and conservationist. He founded the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Jersey Zoo. I was first introduced to him by my Seattle grandparents, Wayne and Lorene, who I remember sitting up in their big king-sized bed with me, all of us reading Gerald Durrell books and laughing and stopping to read bits aloud to each other. That's a really great memory. These books gave me my long-time not-so-secret desire to run away to live on Corfu. Maybe some day I'll get to do that. Durrell writes wonderfully about animals and about his hilarious family and their friends. These books will make you laugh out loud and will teach all kinds of things you didn't know about all kinds of animals. I turned my son on to these books when he was 10 and recommend them often.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richard Newton

    Another enjoyable yarn from Durrell. I don't think it is quite as good as the first in the trilogy, apart from two chapters 7 and 8, which are very funny. It's slightly odd as a biographical trilogy as they are not in sequence. In fact, they all cover the same time, but cover different stories. Whereas the first book felt like a book, this does feel at times like a series of unrelated anecdotes, and I think if you have read this without reading the first it might feel a bit disjointed. Neverthel Another enjoyable yarn from Durrell. I don't think it is quite as good as the first in the trilogy, apart from two chapters 7 and 8, which are very funny. It's slightly odd as a biographical trilogy as they are not in sequence. In fact, they all cover the same time, but cover different stories. Whereas the first book felt like a book, this does feel at times like a series of unrelated anecdotes, and I think if you have read this without reading the first it might feel a bit disjointed. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, more easy, pleasant holiday type reading.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This is the second book in Gerald Durrell's Corfu trilogy. It probably ought to have been combined with the first into one book. It covers the same time period of this hilarious family's life but is not actually "what comes next". It's just more of same. And it is wonderful. I had a grin on my face while reading it and broke into hysterical cackling giggle fits at times. Great fun. I can't wait to read the last one.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    A thoroughly delightful romp through an island so idyllic sounding it rivals even the Swiss Family Robinsons' famously accommodating island. As ever, the descriptions and tales of the author's family had me in stitches, and even the long-winded descriptions of things generally only interesting to a naturalist held my attention this time around. It's one of those that leaves you feeling all nice and clean and thoroughly satisfied by the ending.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I enjoyed the first book of the Corfu Trilogy immensely, but I may have enjoyed this one slightly more. I didn't realize before that the Durrell family stayed on the island of Corfu in Greece for 5 years. So these books cover Gerald's experiences from ages 10 to 15. This book adds in more layers of anecdotes from the family's time on Corfu during those 5 years and recalls more animals that Gerald encountered during that time. This book seems to have been the basic spark of inspiration for more o I enjoyed the first book of the Corfu Trilogy immensely, but I may have enjoyed this one slightly more. I didn't realize before that the Durrell family stayed on the island of Corfu in Greece for 5 years. So these books cover Gerald's experiences from ages 10 to 15. This book adds in more layers of anecdotes from the family's time on Corfu during those 5 years and recalls more animals that Gerald encountered during that time. This book seems to have been the basic spark of inspiration for more of the stories or characters in the television series: the goldfish, Sven, the countess, the court case. However, the storyline and outcome is usually very much different in the book than the television series. I've really grown to love Gerald's mentor Theodore Stephanides in the book and despise Gerald's brother Larry. Larry's just mean spirited. But Theodore is absolutely adorable with his vast array of scientific knowledge, his understated sense of humor, and his timid cadence of speech. Some of the more interesting "birds and beasts" that Gerald encounters in this book are ... *dung beetles *the creepy scutigeridae which looks like a cross between a spider cricket and a centipede *hermaphroditic snails with love darts *eels that travel from rivers all over the world to the warm water Sargasso Sea in the middle of the Atlantic, having babies that return to their parents homes alone without having ever been there *water spiders that live underwater in a sort of homemade diving bell, adding on an extra room as necessary for eggs I'm going to have to blame this book for making me start reading The Origin of Species earlier than I'd already planned to this year (which led to my reading of Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan ... And the World); downloading several books about insects by Jean-Henri Fabre, an author that tells Gerald all he wanted to know about the dung beetle and more; and checking out Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish). One thing about the study of natural history is that one point of interest leads to another and then to another. I get the feeling that I'm going to find myself laden with more must-read books by the time that I finish book 3 of the Corfu series. Plus, I'll have to read more of Gerald's books like Golden Bats & Pink Pigeons. Reading this series has made me a little sad that I don't step out my city door and find as much wildlife as in the country. I've been actively looking and not seeing more than the occasional mocking bird in my backyard lately. Then again, it's still technically winter. Until spring, I guess I'll have to content myself with reading through all these tangential natural history books I keep getting sidetracked with. If you enjoyed the first book of the series, you'll certainly enjoy this one, too. But it can really stand alone without the other as well.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    There are few writers who are as skilled at relating an anecdote as Gerald Durrell. His writing has a way of capturing the people, animals and situations that he encounters perfectly; reading this book was almost as good as being in Corfu with Durrell and his madcap family. Reading about the family again was a welcome return after their absense in A Zoo in My Luggage. As the people that Gerals Durrell knows best, they all have well-developed and entertaining personae within the book and are funn There are few writers who are as skilled at relating an anecdote as Gerald Durrell. His writing has a way of capturing the people, animals and situations that he encounters perfectly; reading this book was almost as good as being in Corfu with Durrell and his madcap family. Reading about the family again was a welcome return after their absense in A Zoo in My Luggage. As the people that Gerals Durrell knows best, they all have well-developed and entertaining personae within the book and are funny and embarrassing in the way that only family can be. Seeing them again was a bit like revisiting old friends and I thoroughly enjoyed laughing with them at their own follies. As always with Gerald Durrell's writing, the book was a careful balance of human drama and encounters with local wildlife, containing just enough detail to be interesting without being too scientific. These books are, after all, primarily fun. However, as excellent as Durrell's grasp of the anecdote is, they aren't very well strung together in this book. As it contains stories which were left out of My Family and Other Animals rather than being a continuation of the novel, there are large time gaps between the events which are related and they are presented in a random order without any thematic or chronological links. I still enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone else, but I would have preferred the book to have a bit more structure.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Preethi

    I think I was around 10 years old when I first read Durrell and his adventures in the idyllic island of Corfu. I identified myself with his childhood, thanks to the summers I spent in my maternal grandparents' home - an idyllic village in the middle of coastal yet jungle-ish South Kenara, where we had access to all kinds of animals, pests, pets and we got to see all we could about nature. As I read that short essay in one of my English text books (yeah, that was some fancy syllabus we had then, I think I was around 10 years old when I first read Durrell and his adventures in the idyllic island of Corfu. I identified myself with his childhood, thanks to the summers I spent in my maternal grandparents' home - an idyllic village in the middle of coastal yet jungle-ish South Kenara, where we had access to all kinds of animals, pests, pets and we got to see all we could about nature. As I read that short essay in one of my English text books (yeah, that was some fancy syllabus we had then, we read a bunch of English writers at a very young age), I remember wanting to have more of Durrell, Roger and Corfu. And that was why I picked up the first book - My Family and Other Animals a few years ago. I remember I loved the book, the tone, the absense of plot, the carefree nature of the narration, the chuckles it gave and everything else. This book also lives up to its predecessor in all these aspects. Mother is as adorable as she was, the siblings are all what siblings generally are, the tutors and the locals as awesome as they could be, and Gerry, a little grown up, but still the same child - curious, caring and full of love towards nature. This book takes me back to the time I first read it, and to my childhood, so its an ever-favorite.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    c1969: I had been introduced to Mr Durrell's writing by a really great primary school teacher. I was also intrigued that books by his brother were highly regarded by my erudite father. This was a much easier read! I loved the individual family members and although widely known that the book was not strict with the time lines, it made no difference. In fact, I was rather pleased with that as I often wonder how everyone seems to remember conversations word for word, date for date, from so long ago c1969: I had been introduced to Mr Durrell's writing by a really great primary school teacher. I was also intrigued that books by his brother were highly regarded by my erudite father. This was a much easier read! I loved the individual family members and although widely known that the book was not strict with the time lines, it made no difference. In fact, I was rather pleased with that as I often wonder how everyone seems to remember conversations word for word, date for date, from so long ago. I seem to be able to mix up relations, times, dates, even reasons for the various get togethers - hence no autobiography then! (well, I suppose the general run of the mill life may also have something to do with it). Larry, Leslie and poor old Margo and the wonderful scatty widowed mother. FWFTB: humorous, unconventional, Corfu, observations, zoology.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Merry

    A sweet little book that is a sequel to My Family and Other Animals. The books are based on the author's life as a young boy on the island of Corfu from 1933 to 1939 just before World War II. Beautifully written, as the reader you are transported to the island to live among his many creatures and humorous family adventures.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    A very enjoyable continuation of Durrell's account of life on Corfu before WWII. There was less about the animals and more about the people than in My Family and Other Animals, which to me was an improvement. What a special childhood he had!

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