I don't know how authors do it. Do they honestly recollect their childhood experiences or are they simply particularly adept at embellishing in such a way that is close to the truth yet wholly engaging. Such is the ability of Gerald Durrell in My Family and Other Animals. I originally started reading this in anticipation of watching the TV adaptation. How long ago was that? Now we are in season two. I started reading and then started watching and then set the book down because I am far too easily distracted, but this first volume (of three? Or more? He has written a number of books), but I want to finish it before the year is out and then go back and start watching the program. I always have loved reading novels written about childhood from the vantage point of adulthood. And Durrell is not only writing about a place that is enticingly beautiful, a period of interest to me, but he does it so amusingly so.
I would not have thought I could possibly find a battle--between a gecko and a rather large mantid so interesting and funny to read about. But yes, glued to the pages I was when I read that chapter. And they all more or less have been much the same. My teaser (and I might have teased with this book before, but that would have been too long ago) is a different scene. One that I find so true and something perhaps only a child and an adult with a very whimsical and open mind might actually think about.
Gerry has a number of tutors while on Corfu and he meets the mother of one of them. Much like his tutor she is something of an eccentric. But I like the way she thinks.
"'They say,' she announced--'they say that when you get as old as I am, your body slows down. I don't believe it. No, I think that is quite wrong. I have a theory that you do not slow down at all, but that life slows down for you. You understand me? Everything becomes languid, as it were, and you can notice so much more when things are in slow motion. The things you see! The extraordinary things that happen all around you, that you never even suspected before! It really is a delightful adventure, quite delightful'!"
"She sighed with satisfaction, and glanced around the room."
And then she goes on to talk about the roses she has in a bowl in her bedroom. She and Gerry, as you can tell by their conversation are on the same plane. Naturalists each in their own sense they seem to be. I like the idea of plants and flowers being able to feel. Why not and I suspect there is likely some real truth in the matter.
"'Isn't he a beauty?' inquired Mrs. Krelefsky. 'Isn't he wonderful? Now, I've had him two weeks. You'd hardly believe it, would you? And he was not a bud when he came. No, no, he was fully open. But, do you know, he was so sick that I did not think he would live? The person who plucked him was careless enough to put in with a bunch of Michaelmas daisies. Fatal, absolutely fatal! You have no idea how cruel the daisy family is, on the whole. They are a very rough-and-ready sort of flowers, very down to earth, and, of course, to put such an aristocrat as a rose amongst them is just asking for trouble. By the time he got here he had drooped and faded to such an extent that I did not even notice him among the daisies. But, luckily, I heard that at it. I was dozing here when they started, particularly it seemed to me, the yellow ones, who always seem so belligerent. Well, of course, I didn't know what they were saying, but it sounded horrible. I couldn't think who they were talking to at first; I thought they were quarreling among themselves. Then I got out of bed to have a look and found the poor rose, crushed in the middle of them, being harried to death."
Isn't that great? Can't you just see it all in your mind? The beauty of prose. A well written story. I am contemplating now reading the next book in the Corfu trilogy.