Book Review: My Family and Other Animals


It has been rather a long time since I have picked up a book for pleasure, and actually managed to get into it. I’ve been in a reading rut for some time, and one could easily assume that this is due to the mass amounts of books I have to read for university. I have so many books on my ‘to read’ list but simply haven’t been able to connect with them for some reason – no matter how badly I want to read them. Until this book came along…

My mum has been watching The Durrells of late and has often commented on how this book was one of the small few she enjoyed as a child and so after catching snippets of the programme, and becoming intrigued, I bought it. And I have to say I’ve been totally taken aback by easy I found reading it. I felt an instant connection to this strange book with it’s quirky but beautiful descriptions.

I’ve tried to consider it from a writer’s perspective and I can honestly say that I’m not sure what it is about this book that has drawn me in so strongly. Of course I love the natural history aspect of the book, I tend to read a lot of non fiction natural history books, but that wasn’t all of it.

I’ve spent many occasions, bothering my family while they try to watch TV to read out a sentence or two that has tickled me. I have these bookmarks that you fill in with the title, author, and how long it took you to read, and I’ve filled it with my most favourite lines of speech. Two of which I shall say to you now –

‘This great multicoloured wedge of humanity moved slowly along towards the dark door of the church, and we were swept along with it, wedged like pebbles in a lava-flow.’ Pg. 99

‘Shoals of butterflies danced and twisted like wind-blown confetti.’ Pg. 140

Aren’t they just delightful?

I have fallen in love with this book and it’s people, heart and soul. I have gone bug hunting with Gerry, and swam in the ocean with Margo; I have written masterpieces with Larry and gone shooting with Leslie; I have cooked and baked with Mother and I have learned with Theodore.

Once these people get into your soul, they take a firm hold and stay there. It has been a long time since I have loved a book this much. And I dare go as far as to say that it is now my favourite, and that is something you can’t take lightly. I’ve had the same favourite novel for 6 years… until now.

What makes it even more magical is that it’s all true. This first of a trilogy connects you with real people from a world most of us only dream about. Hopefully one day we can experience life as fully and wildly as the Durrells did.


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