I first became aware of Durrell through My Family and Other Animals, his memoir about his childhood living in Greece. The hilarious book is filled with the misadventures of the Durrell clan but also captures young Gerald’s growing fascination and love for nature. In adult life he would go on to work with animals, including collecting wild animals for British zoos and became a popular writer and television presenter on the subject. He also campaigned for conservation and established his own charity to aid with this.
This book collects a selection of Durrell’s writings, where he discusses various animals and their habits. From riding with gauchos in the pampas of South America to climbing to the treetops in African jungles, this is the kind of book that really makes you yearn to set off on an adventure in far flung countries.
Durrell writes with amazing warmth and humour, and his passion for wildlife leaps off the page. There’s an anthropomorphic aspect to his style, and he gives all the creatures he meets individual characters and personalities. This is miles away from cold science, and the way he writes draws the reader in, charming them as he slowly reveals various unusual animal habits.
The book is made up of a series of radio talks that Durrell made for the BBC back in the day, and were among the first mainstream nature programmes for British audiences, and it’s easy to see his legacy in the natural history films that the BBC still excels at.
Durrell’s enthusiasm and knowledge, coupled with his ability to deliver it in a simple and humorous manner is probably responsible for passing the nature loving bug on to many, and after reading this I found myself with even greater love and interest in nature. Durrell’s other books have gone right into my “to read” list and I can’t recommend this enough for anyone who has a passing interest in animals.
Verdict: Durrell writes with such easy charm that this book entertains as it educates. The humour is wonderful, and his love for nature is irresistible. 9/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.