This is a book which most people would enjoy hugely. I read it in a Slightly Foxed Edition, but I am sure that it is easily available in many versions. It provided the basis for the recent tv version, which I haven’t seen yet, but will definitely try to now.
There are three elements of this book; the Greek island of Corfu, the animals (and other creatures) which the narrator collects, and a singular family. I’m not always fond of books set in “the Abroad” as my TEFL tutor called it, but this sounds a beautiful place in which to explore, capsize boats, and discover some very wild wildlife. The creatures which Durrell describes so well have great personality, and acquire some great names, whether they be pregnant scorpions which deposit babies over brother’s beds, or a huge sea gull (not an albatross…) who gets loose under a table at an animal ridden party. The party is also enlivened by snakes in a bath; an obvious solution to a problem at the time, and the “Magenpies” who rearrange the tables. The Family are strange beasts themselves. I was not convinced by Margo, but the brothers who variously write mysterious manuscripts and shoot things are marvelously eccentric as young men. I will now go and track down some of Laurence’s actual books, which I do not believe are comedies…My favourite character is Mother. Delightfully vague, she is easily persuaded to buy smaller or bigger villas depending on whether they wish to encourage particular visitors or not, and accepts the somewhat challenging behaviour of her offspring calmly, even if it extends to burning down part of the house. Even she acquires an animal, whose devotion to her upsets even more the already upset domestic arrangements. I was so glad to read the later, but no less funny, story about her in “Marrrying Off Mother ” which I wrote about recently.
I realise of course that everyone else has read an enjoyed this book years ago, but if you want a cheerful book set in a beautiful place that is genuinely funny, this is a great read. Oh, and there are many, many, animals.