Tom MacWright

tom@macwright.org

I read My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell on

Review

What a peculiar book. I has no story arc. No tension, drama, mystery, love, pain, longing. It’s fun - after all, it’s a book about an 11 year old child who loves nature exploring the forests and beaches of Corfu.

I had been reading a lot of downers, and, inevitably, I’ll read a lot more meaty books about broken systems and bad people. This was the opposite in both direction and style: it isn’t a success story or a hero’s journey, it is simply a fun collection of anecdotes about playing with animals and interacting with a largely amiable and tolerant family.

If you look for a critique, one presents itself: the English family in question is the image of privilege, existing without need for money and on the constant goodwill of the local Greeks, who young Gerry regards as peasants. And it omits the painful, the father’s death, the need to return to England for WWII, not for continuing education.

But taken for what it is, it’s a rare work of lightheartedness that succeeds at being engaging without relying on a plot. I’d recommend it if that might brighten your day.

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