The Durrells of Corfu

I was looking for a light read and The Durrells of Corfu hit the spot. As a teen I adored all Gerald Durrell's memoirs about his childhood on Corfu, My Family and Other Animals and its sequels, I found the family anecdotes hilarious and the nature writing vivid and delightful. It's now clear that those memoirs were quite heavily fictionalised -- different stories were exaggerated, some people erased and events shifted around to suit the narrative. I have no problem with any of that but it was interesting to find out what the actual facts were. For example, big brother Larry was presented as a temperamental, aspiring author, while in fact he'd already had two novels published and was an established member of the London literary scene. Moreover, his wife Nancy came with him to Corfu, and mostly the couple lived apart from the rest of the family -- but poor Nancy doesn't appear at all in Gerald's books! (Another literary wife deleted, a la Wifedom??)

There are lots of photographs included in Michael Haag's book and he does a great job of filling in the family background as well as the historical context. The Durrell idyll only lasted a few years, ending of course in the outbreak of war, and it seems that the antics of the bohemian clan were not universally approved by the island's other inhabitants, who took a dim view of nude sea-bathing and what they saw as a patronising attitude. At this distance, who knows the truth? But I think I will still hang onto the golden memories of Gerry's perfect childhood and the eccentric characters that surrounded him, including his siblings.


  1. And for light 'cheer-up and distract' viewing, the Durrells series was such fun.

  2. Absolutely! And gorgeous scenery, too :)