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The Durrells of Corfu by Michael Haag

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John Martin

I much appreciated the early chapters because as a Civil Engineer myself my family life reflected the issues the Durrells went through in India.

Again their decamping to Corfu after the tragic death of Lawrence to keep the family together reminds me of our own decamping to Zambia to keep our family together.

The author, Michael Haag, paints a good picture of Corfu and, although much changed, is still recognisable today by modern visitors.

The way of life of expatriates living abroad is well described and is recognisable by those who were brought up in the era or live with those who did.

Most enjoyable.

Denise Forsyth

I was aware of Gerald Durrell as I had previously visited Jersey Zoo where he conserved endangered animals. But I have not read or watched any of the Durrells books, films or TV dramas. Therefore I found the book interesting as I discovered Gerald's family were bohemia and this enabled Gerald to explore the animals he encountered in India, UK and Corfu whereas if he was sent to boarding school like his older brother this may have closed his avenues and taken many more years before he could found ways to educate people about animals.

There were many references in the book about Gerald's book he wrote and as I had not read them I did not have anything to compare. The book was an enjoyable read.

Andy Chance

A great chronicle of the Durrell family with an extraordinary life which charts the trials & tribulations of a family troubled by death drink & war. Now made into a successful television series.

From the very early years where the family move around India with work, the deaths of one of the children and the unexpected death of their father. This prompts the family to move back to the UK ultimately they never really settle into life in Britain, Louisa (mum) turns to drink and it plays a part in the whole family deciding to all resettle in Corfu.

Each chapter paints a great picture of family life, the children all with very different characters and also those people that helped them during their time in a different country. The different houses that they live in and in the end the war cutting short their time in Corfu.

In summary you have to admire the spirit the family show and although Gerald’s life is surrounded by animals in later years both in his work with Jersey Zoo and his literature, in the former years you would not have wanted to be a family pet!

Alan Jones

A thoroughly enjoyable read which held my attention from beginning to end. Very good, smooth, introduction of characters and background information.

This Middle-class family were very amusing. However, if they had been a family of lesser means, they would be thought to be ' dysfunctional ‘. They were very caring within the family, and within their small circle, but, not towards others - ex-pats. Or locals. I would have liked to have known more about the locals, not just Spiro. I imagine life was very hard for them.

Within the family - Leslie seemed to be the odd one out, Gerald was over indulged, Margo was insecure, Larry was trying to hold it all together, which was not his default setting. Louise was in a world of her own, drawing comfort from the rest of her family. The photographs added to the story, which moved along really well.

I had not read any of Michael Haag's writing previously, but will certainly read more of his work.

David Murphy

Here’s a wonderful story of widowed Louisa and her children Lawrence, Margo, Leslie and Gerald as they carve a life for themselves on Corfu in the 1930s. When mother Louisa is widowed she moves the family back to England from India but like most colonials has difficulty settling in so moves on to Corfu. The Durrells are an eccentric and dysfunctional family trying to make a living and blend in with the locals. Not quite succeeding with the locals and frowned upon by the British ex-pat community for even attempting to do so, they proceed with blind confidence in the face of various problems and adversity.

Michael Haag does a great job bringing this family to life with Lawrence Durrell developing as the great author he was to become, Margo emerging from teenager to woman, Leslie somewhat of the misfit and Gerald absorbed by the wildlife around him. Unfortunately, Louisa never seems to get over the death of her husband.

The Durrells may be dysfunctional and argue and bicker but at their heart they are a loving family who support each other which is both commendable and charming.

I liked them a lot and this book makes great holiday reading.

Veronica Bliss

It is easy to watch a factual series on television and believe it is totally true and so it is a surprise to discover in “The Durrells of Corfu” this is not so. What is really a biography flows beautifully, and at times you feel the Durrells themselves have written it with the many quotations. Altogether it is a well-researched and amusing tale of a close and well-knit family. The wonderful photos make it easier to picture the places and people from so many decades ago.

Even so, it is difficult to imagine life in Corfu, for a family who had lost their father at a young age while living in India, returning to live in England and then moving to Corfu. The descriptions of their wonderful carefree existence and characters such as Spiro, who looked out for them, all help to make it a very enjoyable book.

I enjoyed learning about their life not just in Corfu but how they survived the war and developed their careers. My only sadness was discovering that many of their marriages were doomed to failure.

It is certainly a book to be recommended.

Elizabeth Wilde

The Durrells of Corfu could never be accused of being boring or having a boring life. Michael Haag has introduced the family and brought us to meet each member of the family in a way that familiarises us to its character and eccentricities so that we feel that we know them and could easily carry on a conversation with them should we ever had had the opportunity. In addition to this, we are familiarised in the same way with the other characters in this story.

The story opens in the India of the 1930s, a different place from the modern India, introducing us to the Mother, Louisa and the Father, Lawrence Samuel Durrell who take the main stage in this part of the story. Lawrence dies and the family return to England. Louisa finds it very difficult to cope with life without Lawrence and although she looks after the children admirably, begins to enjoy her G&Ts too much and has a breakdown.

Larry, the eldest Son had the idea of living in Corfu and he and family moved there where the story continues and we come to know Corfu and its colourful characters.

Pam Russell

A very interesting book which gives the background to the Durrell family, in particular to Gerald's lifelong love of wildlife and the natural world, and having visited the Jersey Zoo on a number of occasions gave even greater insight into the project.

It was interesting to find that the family's origins were in India, not Corfu as I had always imagined, and to learn about the interaction of the many family members together with their friends and colleagues and the events which transformed their lives.

Christine Hodge

I enjoyed the book mainly because it filled in gaps that the TVs series didn't feature. A Strange dysfunctional family whose exploits and daily life is completely foreign to the average person. Glad the book was short otherwise it could have become boring.

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