The book is an autobiographical account of five years in the childhood of naturalist Gerald Durrell. The book is divided into three sections, marking the three villas in which the family lived on the island. Apart from Gerald (the youngest) and Larry, the family comprised their widowed mother, the gun-mad Leslie, and diet-obsessed sister Margo together with Roger the dog.
They are fiercely protected by their taxi-driver friend Spiro (Spyros "Americano" Chalikiopoulos) and mentored by the polymath Dr Theodore Stephanides who provides Gerald with his education in natural history. Other human characters, chiefly eccentric, include Gerald's private tutors, the artistic and literary visitors Larry invites to stay, and the local peasants who befriend the family. An audio treat for those young and old.
"Hugh Bonneville gives a lovely reading… Delicious!" (Daily Express)
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A Comedy Classic Comes to Life
This book is at the top of my comedy "love list."All of Gerald Durrell's books have been on my shelves since I was 8 (some 40+ years!). As I was disappointed in what television had produced, I was hesitant to have a listen to this audiobook version. Happily, Hugh Bonneville has thoroughly captured the essence of the wit and beautifully turned phrases. Naturalists and humorists will love this classic. Mr. Bonneville's range of characterization is just wonderful. He obviously loves the work as much as any Durrell fan. As much as I enjoyed Hugh Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham in the popular Downton Abbey, his vast talent for comedy had no occasion to shine. Here it does. It positively sparkles.
Spiro is my favorite character as he's much like a large mastiff taking charge of a gaggle of silly ducklings. Spiro has come to life and is as endearing and animated as Gerry Durrell wrote him. Margo is screechingly funny. Mother is vacantly aware, as always. Theo and all the others... It's impossible to pick a favorite! You'll be laughing out loud.
This is the first time I've had the pleasure. But I'll definitely be looking for more from Mr. Bonneville in hopes that he chooses comedies over dramas.
Ohhh. I'm not sure any director or producer could do this series of books justice, particularly in this age of huge "blockbuster budgets". Meaningful family cinema and television seem to be falling along the wayside. A long, long TV series in the vein of Larkrise to Candleford or Downton Abbey would be lovely. I actually thought of Gerald Durrell when I watched "Dean Spanley" and wished, at the time, that Toa Fraser would try a Durrell movie. Something shot on location in sleepy, sunny Greece. Something that takes it time, gets all the lines, gets the costumes, scenery, wit and "times" just right. I would love to see this series with the child, Gerry, as the focal point and his perspective the dominant one, as in the books.
Truly funny and candid descriptions of the politics of family life will be familiar to many listeners, regardless of the era. Lovely descriptions of nature and the wonder we each felt as children when we first "discovered" the microcosms will bring back childhood memories. I highly recommend this refreshing listening as it will transport you!
- CAVALLO ELENA