Marrying Off Mother and other stories – Gerald Durrell

The first thing to say about these short stories is that it is not a sequel to “My Family and other Animals”. I am halfway through Slightly Foxed’s lovely edition of that book.   I did not manage to see the tv version (moving house etc). These stories are definitely for adults, as they include a horror story and extremely funny story  which even I found shocking…

This edition is in the new PanMacmillan series, which I have been picking up copies of books of for the last few months. I must admit that I have not spotted  a common theme for the choices, though the Winston Graham looks very promising.

Back to this book. The title story does refer to the original Durrell family, as the adult children decide that they want their mother to remarry, with some very funny results. Esmeralda the perfumed pig turns out to be a valued member off the family, while Moses the parrot has such a turn of phrase even dockers are embarrassed. Durrell is asked to  lecture in America, where cultural differences abound. Fred, the Butler, has a nice line in Biblical explanation, while Great Uncle Rochester continues to fight the rebel horde of Yankees. There are surreal moments in these 8 stories, some of which Durrell claims are true, some “semi true”. They are all well written and often funny. This is a super book for picking up and popping down over holiday expeditions, though rarely will you be in charge of transporting large predatory cats as in one story…

I seem to be turning to a lot of collections of short stories at the moment. I have a copy of Fay Weldon’s short stories, Mischief, which represent stories published throughout her career. They tend towards weary feminism at the start, at least. Dancing with Mr Darcy is a collection of stories inspired by Jane Austen selected by Sarah Waters in 2009. They are a very varied bunch! It is interesting contrasting stories by one author with a collection of stories by vastly different authors. While Durrell has a very picturesque style, Weldon stories seem very much of their time. The Jane Austen stories are touching, daft and funny, and a very mixed collection written by diverse authors. So, back to the collections of short stories…

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