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Eläimet ja muu kotiväkeni by…
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Eläimet ja muu kotiväkeni (original 1956; edition 1988)

by Gerald Durrell, Martta Eskelinen ((KÄÄnt.).)

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3,193931,745 (4.28)333
Member:sampsak
Title:Eläimet ja muu kotiväkeni
Authors:Gerald Durrell
Other authors:Martta Eskelinen ((KÄÄnt.).)
Info:Helsingissä [Hki] : Otava, 1988.
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:kauno, ympäristö, elämänkerta

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My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (1956)

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English (84)  Spanish (5)  Catalan (2)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All (93)
Showing 1-5 of 84 (next | show all)
The cover of my Penguin edition calls this a "autobiographical novel" and at the end I was left wondering how much of the book was true and how much of it was fictionalised. I came away from it feeling like it was truth exaggerated for comic effect and after some googling about the author, that seems to be an apt description.

I grew up much like Gerald Durrell, spending all my free time exploring and watching all manner of wildlife. I stopped short of actually making most of them pets (although I raised more than my share of the local frog population) because I was devastated if anything ever happened to the animals. Plus, my very clever mom, coming from an earlier generation that had less angst about lying to their children for the greater good, told me if I touched baby animals their moms would scent me on them and abandon them to die. This applied not only to birds, but to any and all animals save dogs, cats, and hermit crabs. She also told me sea monsters came out at night and ate people. I love my mom. Although I still can't swim in the ocean after dark.

I digress, but I found a lot to like about this book, it was at once familiar, eccentric and hilarious. It's an easy, if long, read that meanders from one anecdote to another with vivid, sometimes flowery descriptions that make me feel if I never actually visit Corfu, I've still seen it through Mr. Durrell's eyes.

It was a perfect read for a dreary couple of days while languishing about with the sniffles. ( )
  murderbydeath | Nov 27, 2016 |
Sweet, funny, beautiful! The BBC adapation with Imelda Stantan is what led me to this book. It's a wonderful, memorable read. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Set in Corfu in 1935, this is a wonderful beach book. ( )
  FoxTribeMama | Oct 16, 2016 |
Having watched the TV series The Durrells decided to read this one, being one of three books on which it was based. Better than the series with more of an animal focus, and very funny... ( )
  cbinstead | Jun 24, 2016 |
This is the first volume of Gerard Durrell´s Corfu trilogy.

It´s the story of the Durrell family´s stay on the Greek island of Corfu in the 30s just before World War II.

The family, whose members are described in a hilarious manner, consists of Mother, Larry, Leslie, Margo and, of course, Gerry.

Mother, the head of the family, is mostly concerned with concocting delicious meals, and otherwise appeasing the various family members, these being overly inclined to argue with each other, as well as hushing them when they say something improper. Larry, the eldest, is intellectual, highly knowledgeable about literary matters and continually making critical and satirical remarks. He later becomes a famous writer, his most renowned work being “The Alexandria Quartet”. The second son is Leslie, who is enamoured of guns, ballistics in general, and hunting. Margo, the only girl, is portrayed as rather naïve and with a habit of using proverbs but picking the wrong key words in these proverbs when flustered- “After all, you only die once!” She sews and paints pictures. Then of course there´s the youngest, the author, Gerry; in this trilogy he is perpetually portrayed as being ten years old. He is a gifted naturalist and, to the despair of the family, particularly Larry, brings home many variously assorted species of animals, from large birds to tiny spiders. There is also Roger, Gerry´s dog with his lovable, lopsided grin.

You will laugh out loud at many of the passages in the book. I rarely laugh out loud, hut have done so continually when reading this book. Though the author writes at the beginning of the book:
“My grateful thanks --- to:
My wife, who pleased me by laughing uproariously when reading the manuscript, only to inform me that it was my spelling that amused her.” The spelling has been corrected, but the reader will still laugh uproariously.

We begin with the family´s arrival in Corfu, where they are faced by the essential and basic task of finding a house to live in.

They have examined ten villas but none are to Mother´s satisfaction. In despair, the estate agent asks Mother: “Madame Durrell ---- I have shown you every villa I know, yet you do not want any. Madame, what is it you require? What is the matter with these villas?” Mother answered: “Didn´t you notice? --- None of them had a bathroom.” (The estate agent) “wailed in genuine anguish, ´what for you want a bathroom? – Have you not got the sea?´”

But they are lucky to quickly run into Spiro, a helpful native, who speaks English of a sort. He finds them a strawberry-pink villa with a bathroom. He lends Mother money, since hers has not yet arrived from England. Their luggage has been languishing in the Customs warehouse, but the irascible Spiro, like an angry bear, bullies the Customs man, whom he knows well, slams the lid of a box down on the man´s fingers when he tries to examine its contents, mentions the man´s past crimes (dynamiting fish) and thus succeeds in reclaiming their “boxes of merchandise”, all intact and unexamined.

Once comfortably installed in the villa with his family, little Gerry investigates crab-spiders, lacewing flies and earwigs. He and Roger take exploratory walks every day to remote olive-groves to study the wildlife. They get to know the elderly Agathi, who teaches Gerry peasant songs, Yani, an old shepherd with incredible moustaches who plies him with advice and warnings, and the dumb Rose-beetle Man dressed fantastically, his hat “speckled and smeared with dust, wine stains, and cigarette-burns”. “In the band were stuck a fluttering of feathers: cock-feathers, hoopoe-feathers, owl-feathers, the wing of a king-fisher, the claw of a hawk, and a large dirty feather that may have come from a swan.”

The Rose-beetle Man gives Gerry a tortoise, which he christens Achilles, whose favourite fruit is strawberries. He falls down a wall, however, so the Rose-beetle Man instead presents Gerry with a musical pigeon which he calls Quasimodo.

During his time on Corfu Gerry did not go to school. When possible Mother arranged private lessons for him from various eccentric but knowledgeable persons. However, these lessons did not always bear fruit since about the only subject that caught his interest was natural history; this was no doubt the reason for Gerry the adult´s poor spelling skills!

The book is filled with marvellous stories, humorous episodes, mostly concerning the family, picturesque descriptions and detailed and fascinating naturalist observations.

The author is a gifted writer and brilliant humorist.

I firmly recommend that you read the book, I will now tackle further of Gerard Durrell´s works. Consequently, I will re-read big brother Larry´s beautiful books which are penned in quite a different, poetic style. (I see from another review that Larry´s writing was highly praised by the illustrious poet T.S. Eliot.) ( )
  IonaS | Jun 13, 2016 |
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Epigraph
"It is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, which, by often rumination, wraps me in a most humorous sadness."--As You Like It
Dedication
To My Mother
First words
This is the story of a five-year sojourn that I and my family made on the Greek island of Corfu.
Quotations
From that moment I guarded the nest jealously. I erected a protecting wall of rocks round it, and as an additional precaution I wrote out a notice in red ink and stuck it on a pole nearby as a warning to the family. The notice read: "BEWAR - EARWIG NEST - QUIAT PLESE." It was only remarkable in that the two correctly spelt words were biological ones.
Gradually the magic of the island settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen. Each day had a tranquility, a timelessness, about it, so that you wished it would never end. But then the dark skin of night would peel off and there would be a fresh day waiting for us, glossy and colorful as a child's transfer and with the same tinge of unreality.
'But how did the scorpions get on the table, dear?’
'That bloody boy. . . . Every matchbox in the house is a deathtrap. . . . '
Mother, looking like a tiny, harassed missionary in an uprising, was dragged unwillingly to the nearest lamp-post by an exuberant Roger, and was forced to stand there, staring into space, while he relieved the pent-up feelings that had accumulated in his kennel.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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My family and other animals is by Gerald (Malcolm) Durrell
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142004413, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:22 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A memoir of an English boy growing up on the Greek island of Corfu recounts the author's humorous adventures as he collects all kinds of animals and insects and brings them back to the house, much to his family's dismay.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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Editions: 0141321873, 0141037474, 0241951461

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