Bibliophile recommends: Gerald Durrell

I discovered Gerald Durrell when his classic memoir, My family and other Animals, was translated into Icelandic. My brother and I loved to be read to, even after we could read perfectly well ourselves, and our mother loved to read to us. The two books she read to us most often were My Family… and Tolkien’s fantasy story The Hobbit. Both books were pure magic to us, Tolkien’s because of the fairy tale element and Durrell’s because of the humour and his talent for description, of places, nature, people and animals.

Later, when the family was able to afford holidays abroad, we bought Durrell’s other books whenever we found them, and now my mother and I have most of his memoirs and two of his novels in our book collections. My Family… is still just as magical as it was when I was a child, and is one of my perennial reads. Other favourites include The Bafut Beagles, The Whispering Land and The Drunken Forest.

Durrell’s prose is beautiful and flowing and he writes with humour about himself and his family, his animal collecting expeditions, nature, people and animals he met, and about the zoo he established in Jersey.

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