When Mother starts showing an interest in passion-flowers the children decide it is time she got married again.
The romantic island of Corfu is unable to produce many suitable candidates, but there is the 18-year-old who runs the fish stall, Professor Eurpides Androtheomatacottopolous, or the dashing Hollywood actor, Antoine de Vere...
Meanwhile young Gerry is more concerned about the marital affairs of his toads than those of his mother in the title story of this hilarious collection of tales.
©2011 The Estate of Gerald Durrell (P)2011 AudioGO Ltd
I adored Gerald Durrell's autobiographic tales of his humorous exploits as a naturalist, so was pleased to find this selection as an adult. His skills of observing human [and animal] foibles is a joy, but the tales in this collection drag on too far and/or too long, and in some cases, with clanging epithets against women, races and classes, although one must remember his words and worlds are from decades ago. Younger brother of Lawrence Durrell of the Alexandria Quartet fame, perhaps he always felt he had to compete. However, the tale of the truffle-pig begs to be an animated film.
Nigel Davenport is a perfect choice as narrator, and kept me rapt.
To be read by those who enjoy BritWit, post-WWII history, zoology, and biographies, but would suggest starting with his 'My Family and Other Animals'.
Written in Gerrys easy to read style, this audio version is great.
Nigel Davenport does a good job of playing multiple characters acting out their voices in a believable and non-condescending way to the listener.
As a fan of all of Durrell's works and having heard his live documentaries, I stongly felt that you experience Durrel's presence through Davenport's reading.
In terms of the book itself, set in a number of short stories allows Durrel to recount different times of his life in his usual 90% true manner. The family is revisited in Marrying Off Mother, and this fits well with the Corfu trilogy.
Like many of Durrel's books, I went down the path of reading/listening to experience more of his family life, but I enjoyed all of the other stories just as much, if not more!
Strongly recommend to anyone who wants a introduction or revisit to Gerald Durrell. It is not necessary to have read or heard his previous books, it will provide a greater appreciation however. Overall 4 stars.
"A Durrell for the Completionist Only"
There are a few decent stories in this collection, but there is a reason why Gerald Durrell is not best known for his fiction and this late collection of his work smacks slightly of desperation.
On the plus side, Marrying Off Mother is a welcome return to Corfu. There are a couple of frothy, lightweight tales about a lost pig, a vicar's parrot and a stay in an eccentric household in America's Deep South.The rest of the stories are disappointing. A story about a gambling nun is silly, dull and about twice as long as it needs to be. There is a particuarly unpleasant tale about the author's bullying of a German hotelier which he himself appears to consider hilarious. The rest is so-so. I found myself skipping large chunks of this audiobook.
I will say that most of my issues were with the writing, and Nigel Davenport did his best with the material he had.
"Oh Dear, excruciatingly bad"
I naively thought this would be Gerald Durrell recounting more stories about his childhood spent on Corfu. Nooooo it was not.
They were long drawn out depressing stories .,
For example one was about a cruise ship's captain who drops dead in front of his elderly lady passengers, and only after starting to decompose, is badly stored in the ships refrigerator ,....only to find, on arriving back in port,that they had to smash his legs with a hammer because he had moved and frozen awkwardly and wouldn't fit in the coffin......
Another was a dreary long drawn out story about a truffle pig that got lost and ended up in his car,, it went on and on and...on, not remotely interesting..or funny.
Need I go on?
It's one redeeming feature was the poor narrator (Ihope he was paid well!) Nigel Davenport is a really good narrator, and I won't hold this against him.
To be fair, yes Gerald Durrell is obviously very dated, but his other works, Bafut Bealgles My family and other animals and so on are very nice listens.
However avoid How to shoot an amateur naturalist though, because you would offer yourself up for the job...
"Brilliant another Durrel classic"
Any book by Durrel is always worth a listen and this one is no different.
"Family and Furry Friends"
The author's family and unusual neighbours form the foreground, whilst Cyprus and its animal inhabitants add to the wide variety of incidents to fascinate the listener. Using narrative that has been widely praised at academic level yet falls lightly on the ear; the very varied tones of the narrator (and source of voices) keep the stories flowing at an easy but interest filled pace.
These stories take the listener to a time and place well removed from present experience, and do not need to rely on crime or sex to provide their colour. There is also the rare experience that the story is told from the point of view of an erudite child.
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