Friday, May 10, 2013

The Durrell Brothers - Lawrence and Gerald

Gerald Durrell

Lawrence Durrell
Next up for reading this weekend is Lawrence Durrell's Bitter Lemons. It is the story of his life on Cyprus in the 1950s. At one time I do believe I owned a paperback copy of this but it must have been given away (unread) in my Great Paperback Purge a couple of years ago. Anyway, I was reminded of it recently and requested it from the library.

I have not read anything by Lawrence Durrell, but I have read his younger brother Gerald's My Family and Other Animals which is his delightful recounting of the family's move in the 1930s to Corfu to escape the bleak British winters. I was introduced to the book through the 2005 movie.  For a while, Lawrence and his wife lived with the family on the island.

Even at a young age, Gerald was a naturalist and his adventures with the Mediterranean fauna of the island are quite amusing. He eventually wrote another two books about his time on Corfu, Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods. He wrote other autobiographical works regaling the reader with tales of life among the animals and his wildlife expeditions. 

In 1958, Gerald founded his own zoo, now known as the Durrell Wildlife Park, on the island of Jersey in the English Channel. He died in 1995 and his ashes are buried at the zoo. A fitting resting place.

Lawrence led quite a different life. He wrote novels, poetry, and books about his travels. He rubbed elbows with other literati of his time including Henry Miller and Anais Nin. He considered himself a man of the world. He was born in British India, lived for a while in England, Argentina, and Egypt, as well as Cyprus and Corfu. He died while living in France in 1990.

I know Lawrence is famous for his Alexandria Quartet which I have not read nor have I been tempted to read it. I am sure the two brothers have very different styles of writing. I know that Gerald has a light touch and will let you know how I get on with Lawrence.


  1. Gerald Durrell! Another author that we have in common. I have read My Family several times and picked up Fillets of Plaice today at my library's book sale. I have read the two books that came after My Family but don't own them. I seem to remember that the second one was very good, but the third was not as good. I think that they had left Corfu in that one? I have never read any of Lawrence's books. I'll be interested to see what you say.

    1. Hi Laura. I have only read the one of Gerald's. Now that he is back on my radar, I will investigate his other works as well. He made me laugh.

      Quite an interesting family, the Durrells.

  2. Some days I just want to tell you to "Slow down -
    I can't keep up with your reading." But I am filling a little book with TBR's for my retirement days! I enjoy all your posts even if I don't comment every day.

    Joyce F in KS

    1. Believe me, Joyce, I can't keep up with my reading either! I would love to see your little TBR book. Such organization for your retirement. I hope it is soon!

      Be sure to comment on Tuesday, May 14 and maybe you will win a book in celebration of my 500th post. Whoopee!