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My Family and Other Animals Paperback – June 29, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142004413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142004418
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As a self-described "champion of small uglies," English writer Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) devoted his life to writing and the preservation of wildlife, from the Mauritius pink pigeon to the Rodriques fruit bat. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the Greek island of Corfu, but ended up as a delightful account of his family's experiences that were, according to him, "rather like living in one of the more flamboyant and slapstick comic operas."

As a 10-year-old boy, Gerry left England for Corfu with "all those items that I thought necessary to relieve the tedium of a long journey: four books on natural history, a butterfly net, a dog, and a jam-jar full of caterpillars all in imminent danger of turning into chrysalids." Durrell's descriptions of his family and its many eccentric hangers-on (he stresses that "all the anecdotes about the island and the islanders are absolutely true") are highly entertaining, as is the procession of toads, scorpions, geckos, ladybugs, glowworms, octopuses, the puppies Widdle and Puke, and the Magenpies. This is a lovely book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

* Hugh Bonneville gives a lovely reading...Delicious! Daily Express * Hugh Bonneville...relishes his succession of roles. The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Gerald Durrell is a treasure!
Mom of Four
I read it regularly, and am still crying with laughter all the way through.
D. M. Summers
I cannot remember when I enjoyed reading a book so much as this one.
Alekos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 82 people found the following review helpful By D. M. Summers on October 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a young boy I was forced, with some considerable reluctance, to read 'My Family and Other Animals' by one of teachers at my school in England, 'in order to improve my vocabulary'. All is forgiven, Mr Cox, for within my rather battered copy lurked, without doubt, the most hilarious account of familial eccentricity, and light-hearted feuding that I have ever come across.

The book, as Mr Durrell explains in introduction, was intended to describe the glorious flora and fauna of Corfu, a greek island where he spent some time as a child. In this goal, he has succeeded admirably, as the whole atmosphere of the island is exquisitely recreated, to an extent that even on a rainy afternoon in Sidcup, it is not difficult to be transported to a sunny morning in the Aegean watching a young Gerry discovering a nest of a trapdoor spider, or perhaps discovering something of the mating rituals of the greek tortoise.

It is in the descriptions of the family, however, where this book really comes to life. As Mr Durrell describes in the introduction, the family, as in life, once they had begun to appear, muscled their way into the rest of pages as well. From tales of the rotund, pretentious Larry (Lawrence Durrell, of the Alexandria Quartet fame), the gun-mad Leslie and the 'muslin and gauze' swathed sister, Margot, to the desciptions the long-suffering mother, the family had me laughing out loud at the most inopportune moments.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I read it regularly, and am still crying with laughter all the way through. Not only a splendid book for the evocative descriptions of the natural history, this is the most witty book I have ever read.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By David Lundberg on June 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely, brilliantly funny. The wit and unique characterizations are woven with great descriptions of the animals and plants of Corfu. That Durrell can hold the attention of readers who have no interest in biology simply demonstrates what a fine work this is. Gerald's depiction of a larger-than-life expatriate family on a larger-than-life Greek island is a tremendous celebration of life. The variety of different Greek characters parading through this book rivals the variety of Corfu's flora and fauna. Absolute great read!

Reviewed by David Lundberg, author of Olympic Wandering: Time Travel Through Greece
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Leslie C. Scanlan on February 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
I usually only have time to read at night. I keep a book by my bedside and if I awaken in the middle of the night, instead of worrying, I read. This isn't the best book to use in this fashion. I have, on several occasions, awakened and thought, "I'll just read a few pages" only to find myself engulfed in oxygenated laughter that has kept me up for the duration of the night. I don't know when I've laughed out loud so often at a book. The mother is the mother we've all always wanted...and she was no doubt the perfect mother for this child. Who else could take in stride the unleashing from a matchbox of a small cache of scorpions during dinner. I will reread this book again and again. Such light hearted appreciation of nature is a rare find. This would be a great gift for any child or adult who loves the outdoors. Very special and very rare.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Exotikat on May 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
I too read this book in my childhood as a compulsory exercise in English class. Years later when I reread it out loud to my children, and was reduced over and over, frequently on the same page, to helpless, tearful laughter, I wondered how we managed to get through it in school. The book is an autobiographical rendering of the author's boyhood experience as his family of five travels from dreary, cold England to the sunny, whimsical reality of Corfu. The pristine island and colourful inhabitants embrace the family and all its idiosyncrasies. Gerry, the little boy, lives a blissful, completely free existence as he explores the flora and fauna of the island with the occasional French lesson thrown in as a silly gesture to seriousness. The day-to-day experiences of the whole family rush with sparkling hilarity through the pages, leaving the reader gasping for air from laughing too hard. This is a completely delicious book, the kind of book you want in your library forever. I have misplaced or lost several copies, and I've just ordered my latest. I think it is just about my favorite novel of all.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
After reading Gerald Durrell at school (it was probably "Menagerie Manor"), I was put off reading his books for over 10 years. One of my friends recommended this as a wonderfully cute book about how a young boy perceives the world and his eccentric family and after hearing descriptions of Larry, the (then) aspiring novelist, acne-ridden Margo and gun-obsessed Leslie, how could I resist? It is a beautifully written book of short stories chronicling Durrell's magical childhood in Corfu, with a kaleidoscope of characters ranging from the human to the animal, all drawn with great affection. The stories are often hilarious and this is definitely one you will want to read again. And for those who are put off by too many descriptions of animals, the descriptions here aren't too long (and they are described charmingly, with Durrell attributing human characteristics which are very amusing) and most of the book focuses on his family. Sequels are "Birds, Beasts and Relatives" and "Garden of the Gods".
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