FAUNA AND FAMILY by Gerald Durrell


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Further contretemps at the Durrell m‚nage on Corfu in the palmy days before World War II. And the myriad readers of My Family and Other Animals and Birds, Beasts and Relatives can be assured that, somewhere along in most of these stylized vignettes, young naturalist Gerry will acquire a creature offensive to effete Larry -- and gain the support of pragmatic Leslie, nubile Margo, and their dithering widowed mother. Larry, meanwhile, is saddling the family family with one after another exotic guest -- who, at their most offensive, come to grief through Gerry's outdoorsy pursuits or Leslie's practical jokes. But this stock-company of amicably bickering eccentrics does, up to a point, capture the imagination: in the golden haze of a perpetual summer, they have the freedom and the means to do as they please, and the wit to make the most of their bounty. It is Gerry, of course, whose cup runneth over here, as he cons a proud, gullible hunter out of a rare hoopoe bird or watches his precious dormouse and her eight tiny offspring, each hanging onto the tail of the one before, ""wending their way around the room like an animated furry scarf."" This could almost, in fact, be one of those English children's stories of yesteryear in which the parents are always away and the children seriously play. The only sour notes, for old or young, are the running sex gags which rang e from low burlesque (Captain Creech's lascivious designs on Mother) to drawing-room repartee (irreligious Larry has been asked to be a godfather -- ""not half so odd,"" says Leslie to Mother, ""as if she had asked him to be the father"") to common tastelessness (a pair of too, too swishy painters). Otherwise, as agreeably here-and-gone as a cucumber sandwich.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Simon & Schuster