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My Family and Other Animals

(Corfu Trilogy #1)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  30,886 ratings  ·  2,606 reviews
Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals is a charming and comic autobiographical novel. Fleeing the gloomy British climate, the Durrell clan move to Corfu carrying the bare essentials of life: acne cures for Margo; revolvers for Leslie; books for Larry and a jam jar full of caterpillars for Gerry. Recounted with warmth and humour, it is a heart-warming portrait of an ...more
Paperback, 388 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Penguin (General UK) (first published 1956)
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Jamie I'm not sure if you mean The Durrells which is the most recent 'adaptation'. That show is not like the book at all! The book is very funny and…moreI'm not sure if you mean The Durrells which is the most recent 'adaptation'. That show is not like the book at all! The book is very funny and beautifully written, focusing mostly on the wildlife of Corfu and humorous things the family do in reaction to Gerry's pet collection. The T.V. show seems to focus on human love affairs and sex which are curiously absent from the actual source material...stick with the book, it's much better! :)(less)
Inana They CAN be read standalone, but I recommend you read "My family and other animals" first (or buy the 1-volume trilogy). Then you'll be hooked (or…moreThey CAN be read standalone, but I recommend you read "My family and other animals" first (or buy the 1-volume trilogy). Then you'll be hooked (or not) and will want to read the rest - in whatever order you find them. I've re-read most of them over the past ≈30 years, and think the earlier books are the best. Later ones were to fund the zoo that he eventually, wonderfully, DID start on the island of Jersey. (less)

Community Reviews

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4.25  · 
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 ·  30,886 ratings  ·  2,606 reviews


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Kevin Ansbro
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Escapists, nature-lovers, people who find humour in commonplace situations.
A delightful, lyrical and altogether MAGICAL read.
*ADVANCE WARNING*
Review includes mention of tortoise sex!


It's usually a huge mistake to return to a childhood favourite, hoping it would be just as good the second time around. So, when I found this book in the attic, with its dog-eared cover held together with Sellotape and its pages jaundiced with age, I had mixed feelings about reading it again.
(A side note to any fellow Brits who once strode majestically in platform shoes: the price on the b
...more
dream
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pure-joy
The first from the trilogy and the first of Durrel's I've ever read. No words can express my love for this author and his immense sense of humor, pure and light, nothing topical or scathing beneath. I remember vividly laughing out loud on the streets and on buses while reading it, so wisely consider your reading spot! Howling with laughter in public places might cause you troubles, but the best part - you won't care a bit and will always consider it worthy!
Candi
When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian someday. I loved learning about animals. We were never without a cat and a dog. We were the proud owners of some clever parakeets. One of them would perch on the back of the dog and hitch a ride around the living room. Hobie the poodle was less enthused than Cocoa the bird. I loved reading books about four-legged critters. Looking back, none of these things were all too astonishing – didn’t every little kid have pets and a desire to ...more
Jola
I loved 'My family and Other Animals'(1956) by Gerald Durrell from start to finish, thoroughly and in detail. That's why I will tell you about it from A to Z.

A is for animals
The way Gerald Durrell describes them is unbeatable. He casts a spell on you not only when he portrays quite spectacular species but also quite prosaic ones.


Gerry Durrell.
[Image source]

B is for bathing-costume
The chapter in which mother purchases an extravagant garment, 'covered from top to bottom with hundreds of frills an
...more
Robin
This is a perfectly charming memoir written by Gerald Durrell, a well known British naturalist and zookeeper. It's charming because it chronicles his experiences with his family on Corfu, as a 10-year-old animal enthusiast. It's charming because it is beautifully written. It's charming because it is humorous. It's charming because his family is so colonial and ooze Englishness but at the same time are quite unconventional.

For all those reasons, I would recommend this book and indeed, I had a fe
...more
Margitte
"I would like to make a point of stressing that all the anecdotes about the island and the islanders are absolutely true. Living in Corfu was rather like living in one of the more flamboyant and slapstick comic operas." - thus claims Gerald Durrell in his Speech of Defense - or as other authors would prefer to call it: The Foreword or Introduction.

Gerard Durrell: My grateful thanks then to:
My wife, who pleased me by laughing uproariously when reading the manuscript, only to inform me that it was
...more
Jonathan Terrington
I went back and decided to write a review on this non-fictional novel/memoir (not all events are fully true I believe) which is considered by some to be a modern classic.

I remember finding a box of Gerald Durrell stories on the shelf as a twelve year old and reading them in luxury. They captivated me as Durrell told the story of his childhood in Corfu hunting animals. Not only was it full of interesting facts about the animals he caught but also about the people in his life. Told with wit, humo
...more
Chrissie
I just finished My Family and Other Animals. It's VERY, very good. It's light, it’s fun and in fact what it teaches about animals, human beings included, is absolutely spot-on! It teaches about animals which a lay person doesn't usually get all that inspired about - snakes and lizards and turtles and bugs. Some special birds too. I was running to Wiki time and time again to see these creatures. One can't help but be drawn in because the stories about the strange bugs and beasts are so bizarre! F ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Gerald Durrell is pure pleasure to read - the ideal medicine if you are stressed out or down in the dumps. Like P. G. Wodehouse, he is guaranteed to lift up your spirits.

This book is slightly different from his usual tales about zoos and animal collecting, though - humans actually take up a large part of it. As Durrell says in the introduction:
This is the story of a five-year sojourn that I and my family made on the Greek Island of Corfu. It was originally intended to be a mildly nostalgic accou
...more
Melody
Sep 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
1/2010 Review:
I inhabit this book. I walk through the olive groves and swim in the crystal seas of pre-war Corfu. I think I can never go to Greece because of this book. I would want the taxis to be horse-drawn, and the small boys to be ranging freely about the island.

I love so much about this book it's hard to pick and choose. I love that Gerry was so devoted to animals from the very beginning. I love the self-centered, irascible Larry (who grew into the genius Lawrence Durrell). I love Mother,
...more
Hayes
It gets better every time I read it. Thank Heavens Durrell didn't get much formal schooling, or they might have educated his writing ability right out of him. The chapter about the moonless midnight swim, with the fire flies flickering, and the porpoises making trails in the phosphorescence, and the millions of stars shining overhead was so incredibly beautiful that it brought real tears to my eyes.
Otis Chandler
I got hooked on the show which was amazing, and was recommended to read the book, which I'm glad I did because it's equally amazing yet different. The Durrell's story is an escape from ordinary life in a way that I can't articulate but I kind of love. It's also hilarious - what a family! I really feel like I got to know Larry, Leslie, Margo, Mother, Spiro, even Lugaretzia.

One of my favorite quotes:

Gradually the magic of the island settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen. Each day had
...more
Annelies
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never before were animals (and yes, also insects) as funny and interesting as in this book. Insects will never be boring again after reading this book. Nor will birds or frogs or... Durrell handles them all with a lot of humour in the stories in this book. Exhilarating!
Julie
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine that you receive a phone call that your eccentric uncle has passed away and you, his niece or nephew who barely knew him, have been tasked with the dreaded job of wading through some eighty years of his belongings.

Days later, you find yourself in his dusty home, making piles of old pants for Goodwill, and in doing so, you discover a tall column of meticulously organized journals. What's this?

Next thing you know, you're down on the floor, reading through page after page of fascinating not
...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful book and what a quirky family. Durrell is a natural born storyteller, he does such a great job with the visuals. I could really experience Corfu through his writing and some of the visulas were darn near hysterical. A turtle for a pet, a turtle who will come when called and loves strawberries. A baby pigeon who they hand feed and who than doesn't learn how to fly but follows them everywhere, running behind them and cooing. A traveler trader who has beetles tied around their wai ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Hilarious, vibrant story! It sort of reminded me of two of my favorite authors, Jonathan Dunne and Farley Mowat. The story of a wacky family moving from England to Greece, it's a completely unforgettable memoir with a lot of originality.
Bettie☯
Re-read via the BBC

Naturalist Gerald Durrell's magical 1930s childhood with his eccentric family on the Greek island of Corfu. Stars Celia Imrie.

1956 - such a good year!
Leslie
If you need to laugh at something genuinely funny with not an ounce of mean spiritedness in it, or if you need to think of sunshine sparkling on the water (John Denver did that best) or maybe you would feel better to learn of the antics of a couple of naughty puppies named Widdle and Puke,an owl named Ulysses, various pet scorpions and snakes who chill out in the bath, then get yourself a medicinal dose of Gerald Durrell. I think I'll make a new shelf called "Medicinal Literature". I myself beg ...more
Maria
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hilarious book. It can be aptly summed up something like this:



In a restaurant, laughing for the past two pages. A woman asks me, "What are you reading?"

"My Family and Other Animals." I said, "They just got attacked by scorpions."

"And you're cracking up about that?" she asks, curiously.

"Yup."



And it's totally true. Everything is funny about this book… even the acknowledgements!
Anne
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laugh out loud funny and endearing. Gorgeous setting beautifully described. Wish I could take a trip there immediately. Can't do that but at least I have the next two books in the trilogy to read. :)). Watched the BBC adaptation first which was wonderful.
Judy
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Five stars all the way for this one. Yes, it was copyrighted in 1956, but this oldie is a goodie! Its hilarious. It captures the culture of the period on the Greek island of Corfu. It contains animals with unique personalities. Colorful characters abound in the form of the family's driver, Spiro, the tutor, Kralefsky, and numerous friends. This family has to be one of the first dysfunctional families to be chronicled. From the "Yes, dear" Mother to the eldest obnoxious son, Larry, to military Le ...more
Carrie
Dec 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful account of a 10-year old boy's childhood years on the greek island of Corfu after his family moves there from England in the 1930s. The boy is a rabid naturalist, and is always collecting poisonous, slithering, leggy, and/or hostile creatures home (much to his family's dismay) to study and keep as pets. Parts of the book are laugh-out-loud funny, especially descriptions of the antics of his bizarre family members.
One thing did keep nagging me throughout the book- I kept thin
...more
Vicky "phenkos"
3.5 stars -- rounded down to 3 because Nancy, Lawrence's first wife who lived with the family in Corfu, is written out of the account.

I've been watching the ITV series with enormous interest and delight, captivated by wonderful performances by Keeley Hawes (Louisa Durrell), Josh O'Connor (Lawrence Durrell), Daisy Waterstone (Margo), Callum Woodhouse (Leslie) and Milo Parker (Gerald). The adventures of this resourceful family in 1935 Corfu and the people that move around them (Dr. Stephanides, Sp
...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
I am so glad that I finally read this book who stood neglected on my TBR shelf for too long.
Durell’s remarkable ability of observation enables him to vividly portray on paper the behaviour of the creatures (and the people) around him in their minuscule details. The descriptions of the landscapes of Corfu Island in their changing seasons are equally beautifully poetic and glossy.
Part nature guide and part autobiography, with plenty of humorous anecdotes, this memoir is a pleasure to read.
Shirley Revill
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Really enjoyed reading this book.
Highly recommended.
Thank you to Goodreads for a copy of this wonderful book.
Sonia Gomes
Jan 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, gets your spirits up !
Gerald Durrell just loved animals; any shape any size, big or small. The criterion was ‘just be an animal’.
During the Second World War, the Durrells went to Corfu and Gerald as a ten year old could not have been happier, he could roam the entire island with his collection jars, his butterfly nets and his dissection box.
Of course he had to study; tutors came teaching all sorts of interesting things, skipping the prescribed curriculum altogether letting their imagination roam way beyond any school
...more
Dov Zeller
Where do I even begin?

Above all things, what I can say about Durrell is that he is a fantastic observer of animal behavior, and his observations don't stop with the human animal. Durrell, as he looks back on his childhood, gives the impression of being wildly at home in the world and full of awe, reverence, mischief, curiosity. I am reminded of reading "The Wind in the Willows" because I have a similar feeling that I am reading a deeply spiritual text.

Durrell basks in the quirks of his fellow c
...more
Malia
This was such a delightful book. I can only recommend it. It's not terribly long, but written in such an elegant but humorous way I cannot believe it took me this long to read it. I'm not a big nature person, and while this book is written by a future zoologist it doesn't seem to matter. The story is much more than a catalog of a boys adventures on Corfu, but rather a story of a very real family. I have been to Corfu and can attest to the fact that it is striking, so reading of this family who f ...more
Anne
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
I just read this again in October 2012 as it was a selection for our book group. Even the third time around, this book has not lost its charm. Durrell's keen powers of observation extend not only to his beloved natural world but also are trained on the eccentricities of his family, their friends, and the people he encounters on Corfu like Spiro, who takes the family in hand when they first arrive and “Like a great, brown ugly angel he watched over us as tenderly as though we were slightly weak-m ...more
Linda
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Having read this for the second time now (the first being maybe ten years ago), I can easily say that this book is one of my favorites.

The author recounts the time his family moved from the cold and dreary climate of England to the sunny and warm Greek island of Corfu. As stated in the notes, Gerald Durrell initially set out to write about nature and his experiences with all the animals he watched, captured, tended to, studied, and loved. However, it was apparent early on that he could not writ
...more
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1,071 followers
Gerald "Gerry" Malcolm Durrell was born in India in 1925. His elder siblings are Lawrence Durrell, Leslie Durrell, and Margaret Durrell. His family settled on Corfu when Durrell was a boy and he spent his time studying its wildlife. He relates these experiences in the trilogy beginning with My Family and Other Animals, and continuing with Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. In ...more

Other books in the series

Corfu Trilogy (3 books)
  • Birds, Beasts and Relatives (Corfu Trilogy #2)
  • The Garden of the Gods (Corfu Trilogy #3)
“I do wish you wouldn't argue with me when I'm knitting.” 103 likes
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