Animate

dead dragonfly

“Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  The White Queen – Through the Looking Glass*

While I finished reading the excellent Clea of the Alexandrian Quartets by Lawrence Durrell, I coincidentally began reading a book to my youngest son written by Lawrence’s brother, Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals.

It is a wonderful book of the true adventures of the ten year old Gerald on the island of Corfu where he and his family, three siblings and his mother, moved to recover from the gray rain of England that oppressed them (mostly Larry).

“Well, we didn’t get as selfish as this without some guidance,” said Larry

My son loves hearing about the myriad creatures on the island, but I confess that what I find highly amusing is to peek into the family dynamic of the Durrell family. Lawrence may have become a literary genius, but here, he remains always an older brother and son – bossy, petulant, and endearing.

” Really,  Larry, you do make me cross,”  she said at last.
“I think it’s rather unfair that you should blame me because your organization breaks down with the arrival of a few guests,” said Larry austerely.
“A few guests!” squeaked Mother. “I’m glad you think eight people are a few guests.”
“I think you are adopting a most unreasonable attitude.”
“I suppose there’s nothing unreasonable in inviting people and not letting me know?”
Larry gave her an injured look, and picked up his book.
“Well, I’ve done all I can,” he said; “I can’t do any more.”

Oh children. There must be some chemical reason why we mothers don’t throttle them regularly.

Gerald tells the stories somehow having maintained his ten year old’s earnest delight and simple reporting of the facts and funny conversations that he heard or was a part of, which makes it wonderful to read. His enthusiasm for the natural world almost makes me reach for a magnifying glass and net. Instead I hand them to my intrepid and incorrigibly curious ten year old so I can read my own book in a moment’s peace.

*opening quote of My Family and Other Animals

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4 responses to “Animate

  1. I wonder if that book that you read to your son is too old for my four year old nephew… It sounds interesting. Love the dragon fly.

  2. That’s one I have read! “Mag and pie” and “watcha going to do with them bastards” are favourites around here.

  3. Reading Durrel makes you realise how close we are to the so-called lower animals.

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