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Gerald Durrell: The Authorized Biography

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Written with complete access to the Durrell family archives and Gerald Durrell's private papers, this affecting biography follows its subject from an eccentric boyhood in Imperial India to the international prominence he gained in print and on television as one of the world's foremost animal conservationists. The younger brother of the famous novelist Lawrence Durrell, Ger Written with complete access to the Durrell family archives and Gerald Durrell's private papers, this affecting biography follows its subject from an eccentric boyhood in Imperial India to the international prominence he gained in print and on television as one of the world's foremost animal conservationists. The younger brother of the famous novelist Lawrence Durrell, Gerald always viewed his own writing - which includes thirty-seven bestsellers, among them enduringly popular classics like My Family and Other Animals and A Zoo in My Luggage - as the means of financing his greatest passion: breeding animals in danger of extinction and returning them to the wild. In the 1980s, with the production of a dozen different television documentary series on zoology, most notably the widely acclaimed Catch Me a Colobus and Ark on the Move, Durrell's conservationist vision reached audiences around the globe, while the zoo he founded on the island of Jersey realized his pioneering mission to breed endangered species in captivity. It stands as a living legacy of the much-admired Gerald Durrell, who died in 1995 at the age of seventy. "Captivating and deeply moving but surprisingly candid biography." - Publishers Weekly (starred review); "Ambitious.... Rich material for a biography." - New York Times Book Review; "Affectionate yet clear-eyed portrait.... Botting does an excellent job of giving us Durrell the man, not merely the legend." - Toronto Globe & Mail; "Few current biographies read as well." - Denver Post.


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Written with complete access to the Durrell family archives and Gerald Durrell's private papers, this affecting biography follows its subject from an eccentric boyhood in Imperial India to the international prominence he gained in print and on television as one of the world's foremost animal conservationists. The younger brother of the famous novelist Lawrence Durrell, Ger Written with complete access to the Durrell family archives and Gerald Durrell's private papers, this affecting biography follows its subject from an eccentric boyhood in Imperial India to the international prominence he gained in print and on television as one of the world's foremost animal conservationists. The younger brother of the famous novelist Lawrence Durrell, Gerald always viewed his own writing - which includes thirty-seven bestsellers, among them enduringly popular classics like My Family and Other Animals and A Zoo in My Luggage - as the means of financing his greatest passion: breeding animals in danger of extinction and returning them to the wild. In the 1980s, with the production of a dozen different television documentary series on zoology, most notably the widely acclaimed Catch Me a Colobus and Ark on the Move, Durrell's conservationist vision reached audiences around the globe, while the zoo he founded on the island of Jersey realized his pioneering mission to breed endangered species in captivity. It stands as a living legacy of the much-admired Gerald Durrell, who died in 1995 at the age of seventy. "Captivating and deeply moving but surprisingly candid biography." - Publishers Weekly (starred review); "Ambitious.... Rich material for a biography." - New York Times Book Review; "Affectionate yet clear-eyed portrait.... Botting does an excellent job of giving us Durrell the man, not merely the legend." - Toronto Globe & Mail; "Few current biographies read as well." - Denver Post.

30 review for Gerald Durrell: The Authorized Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    This book was far too long. However, I so admire Gerald Durrell I stuck with it. I'd say the first half was mostly based on Durrell's own books and the second half was still substantially based on his books. However, once he started to age and develop poor health, more of it was based on interviews or unpublished manuscripts. That part was more interesting since it covered information I didn't already know. While it made it clearer, I knew he was likely a high functioning alcoholic. It was sweet This book was far too long. However, I so admire Gerald Durrell I stuck with it. I'd say the first half was mostly based on Durrell's own books and the second half was still substantially based on his books. However, once he started to age and develop poor health, more of it was based on interviews or unpublished manuscripts. That part was more interesting since it covered information I didn't already know. While it made it clearer, I knew he was likely a high functioning alcoholic. It was sweet to read how madly in love he was with Lee and how she finally realized she was in love with him. Ultimately the book was about his life's dream to do what he could to preserve animals and plants from extinction. His trust is ranked among the top tier in the world, right up there with our own San Diego Zoo. One dream I have is being able to travel to see his Trust in Jersey Island after I retire. If you are curious about Gerald Durrell, do not start with this book. This biography is for someone who already knows who he is and is fascinated by him. Start with Durrell's own books. You can't go wrong with My Family and Other Animals https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4... . If you already know of and admire Durrell, then this would be a good place to continue learning about him. Or, better still, join his trust now called Durrell Conservation Wildlife Trust. https://www.durrell.org/wildlife/cons...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Les Dangerfield

    A very thorough and detailed biography of one of the great naturalists of our time. Well written except that I sometimes felt that the author was such a big fan of Durrell that he lost a certain amount of objectivity and therefore balance in his assessment of the man. Durrell had a fascinating life and left an invaluable legacy in the field of environmental sustainability. Of the world of animals he said 'they are so much more straightforward and honest (than people). They have no sort of preten A very thorough and detailed biography of one of the great naturalists of our time. Well written except that I sometimes felt that the author was such a big fan of Durrell that he lost a certain amount of objectivity and therefore balance in his assessment of the man. Durrell had a fascinating life and left an invaluable legacy in the field of environmental sustainability. Of the world of animals he said 'they are so much more straightforward and honest (than people). They have no sort of pretensions. They don't pretend they are God. They don't pretend they are intelligent, they don't invent nerve gas and, above all, they don't go to cocktail parties.'

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gaelan

    When I was a boy, Gerald Durrell was one of my heroes. To some extent, now that I am a man, he still is. Douglas Botting writes about Gerald Durrell in a way that allows the reader know that Durrell was a flawed man. A great man, but flawed. A drinker, something of a trial as a husband, generally not a man who lead an examined life. But Botting looks at Durrell's life through a kind, and almost affectionate lens, and he writes in such a way that Durrell's flaws don't detract from his accomplishm When I was a boy, Gerald Durrell was one of my heroes. To some extent, now that I am a man, he still is. Douglas Botting writes about Gerald Durrell in a way that allows the reader know that Durrell was a flawed man. A great man, but flawed. A drinker, something of a trial as a husband, generally not a man who lead an examined life. But Botting looks at Durrell's life through a kind, and almost affectionate lens, and he writes in such a way that Durrell's flaws don't detract from his accomplishments.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy Rhoda Brown

    I'm not generally good at reading biographies; I tire of their one-thing-after-another linearity. That's one reason I didn't finish this book the first time I read it, soon after it came out in 1999. The other reason is that I didn't have the emotional maturity to deal with the fact that my childhood idol was a depressed alcoholic. Not because I was disappointed in him toppling off a pedestal, but because I loved him so much and couldn't stand the thought of him being in so much pain. If course, I'm not generally good at reading biographies; I tire of their one-thing-after-another linearity. That's one reason I didn't finish this book the first time I read it, soon after it came out in 1999. The other reason is that I didn't have the emotional maturity to deal with the fact that my childhood idol was a depressed alcoholic. Not because I was disappointed in him toppling off a pedestal, but because I loved him so much and couldn't stand the thought of him being in so much pain. If course, anyone with any sense would realize that depressive alcoholism is a perfectly sensible state for a person in the conservation business, but I didn't have a lot of sense and had fully bought into Durrell's jolly television persona. Enough about me. This is a long biography, but Durrell jammed a lot of living into his life: an unorthodox childhood, daring expeditions to faraway lands, delightful animals and people, the challenge of founding an institution and a whole new way of doing conservation, two marriages, and gallons of alcohol. Botting (who died this February) had fantastic access to Durrell's letters, diaries and unpublished works as well as letters from others and intimate interviews with people who knew Gerry his whole life. As such this is a rich and insightful look into a complicated man. I'm glad I tackled it again.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    Douglas Botting deserves a prolonged salute for the quality of his research as much as his well-rounded picture of the highly complex man who founded Jersey Zoo on the back of his love of animals, birds and insects. And humans… some of them. This fascinating book fills in the spaces between Gerald Durrell's own stories, his brother Lawrence Durrell's, and other, somewhat disapproving zoo directors the world over during his lifetime. Most zoos did not approach fauna the way Gerald did: with a chi Douglas Botting deserves a prolonged salute for the quality of his research as much as his well-rounded picture of the highly complex man who founded Jersey Zoo on the back of his love of animals, birds and insects. And humans… some of them. This fascinating book fills in the spaces between Gerald Durrell's own stories, his brother Lawrence Durrell's, and other, somewhat disapproving zoo directors the world over during his lifetime. Most zoos did not approach fauna the way Gerald did: with a childlike enthusiasm yet with foresight on how quickly so many species were becoming extinct. It gave him a special mission. He took fauna back alive, whenever he could, and bred them in conditions that were not dissimilar to their home habitat. The mating season could be mayhem at the Jersey Zoo! The behaviour of humans, however, depressed him enormously over the years and led to periods of depression and hopelessness. Even so, there is much that is joyful in this book, which not only deals with Gerald within the context of his close family, and two wives, but also the specimens, the travellers met and ofttimes endured during his peripatetic travels to find and save animals, birds and insects on the verge of extinction. Along the way, we get a thorough grounding of how quickly we’re destroying our own world. Some of the tales in this biography are hair-raising, some droll. Delightfully, there are also long excerpts from Gerald Durrell’s own books; it is obvious that Lawrence, took a deep interest and pride, even, in the younger Durrell’s writing. This is not something you would immediately guess from Gerald’s early attempts to treat his family like a captive zoo. If his aim was to breed fauna that were almost extinct, and then to take their progeny back to restock the places from whence they came, it did not always happen as planned. Yet he stands as one of the most extraordinary characters, animal collectors and ‘saviours of – at least – important, smaller species of the animal world’. Note that Botting does not spare the truth about Gerald's temper, or his failings (it appears that the Durrells shared 'an alcohol gene') but nor does he leave out the charm and ability to enthuse others to follow in his footsteps that were also so much part of the man. There are now men and women the world over who are following in Gerald’s footsteps. If only politicians and big business could see the importance of what they attempt.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Don Wilton

    Huge book for a huge man. Single minded and ruthless in pursuit of his ambitions and yet his legacy surely justifies his Maverick manners. It is a wonder that his first wife (poitically poles apart) stayed with him as long as she did and yet his second (young enogh to be his daughter) re-kindled him and his task of establishing one of the most important zoos in the world. What lessons are there to be learnt from that. I suspect that there are some most ineresting sub plots barely hinted at in th Huge book for a huge man. Single minded and ruthless in pursuit of his ambitions and yet his legacy surely justifies his Maverick manners. It is a wonder that his first wife (poitically poles apart) stayed with him as long as she did and yet his second (young enogh to be his daughter) re-kindled him and his task of establishing one of the most important zoos in the world. What lessons are there to be learnt from that. I suspect that there are some most ineresting sub plots barely hinted at in this excellent biog that involve the flirting, womanising but essentially charming side of this great man.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Iona Stewart

    This is a comprehensive, voluminous and satisfyingly complete biography of Gerald Durrell. I loved him before reading the book and now I love him even more. As far as I can see, the book tells us everything of importance about Gerry, his early years, his animal-catching expeditions, his relationships, including of course his two marriages, his books, his zoo, his breakdowns, physical illnesses and death. It includes many great photos of Gerald, his family and his animals and extracts from wonderfu This is a comprehensive, voluminous and satisfyingly complete biography of Gerald Durrell. I loved him before reading the book and now I love him even more. As far as I can see, the book tells us everything of importance about Gerry, his early years, his animal-catching expeditions, his relationships, including of course his two marriages, his books, his zoo, his breakdowns, physical illnesses and death. It includes many great photos of Gerald, his family and his animals and extracts from wonderful poetic letters to Lee. On the whole, we’re provided with many extracts from Gerry’s writings. Since I’ve lived abroad for most of my life, I unfortunately never got to see Gerry on TV, nor any of his programmes. Gerry was an amazing person and it was he who initiated captive breeding in order to prevent the extinction of many species. Preservation of as many species as possible was Gerry’s main aim in life. Gerry was a gifted writer, wonderfully humorous, and a captivating raconteur. He was a loving man, first and foremost towards animals, but also towards his friends and family. Sadly, I’m not certain that he loved himself since he did not look after his own body. He was a gourmand and became obese. He also drank heavily. There has been much talk of his having an alcoholic gene, or perhaps a few of them, inherited from “Mother”, who was also a drinker, and which gene or genes his famous elder brother Larry also inherited. But we all possess some negative genes, and this does not mean that they have to control us. He could have sought help for his alcoholism, had he wanted, but he did not want to. Gerry did nothing to tackle his drinking problem. He drank every day, felt he needed to drink, and functioned well, nonetheless. Eventually, his liver was destroyed by the drinking and he needed and received a liver transplant. This was a natural consequence of his practically life-long alcoholism. I haven’t read many biographies but, even if I had, I think I would have regarded this as the best I had read. It is absolutely well-written and absorbing. I was moved to tears by several parts of the book, not least, when I got to the part of Gerry’s death. Though I never knew him really, I found it hard to accept that he was gone. After Gerry’s death, the author, Douglas Botting, visited Corfu to research “the life and times, haunts and homes” of Gerry and his family. One night he was struggling to get home from the beach in pitch black and was guided home by a firefly though it was too late in the year for fireflies and it was alone. He was led through a gap in the beach he couldn’t find, then led up an invisible path, then up another steeper path ninety degrees to the left; he then found himself at the garden gate of the house where he was staying. The firefly went over the gate and he followed it across the unlit patio, “The kitchen door was somewhere there in the dark, and the firefly flickered unerringly towards it. As I reached for the doorknob the firefly fluttered up and settled on the back of my hand, winking the while. I was home.” One of Botting’s friends, a distinguished political journalist, said “Good God!” “You know that was Gerald Durrell keeping an eye on you, helping you home.” And when Botting told the story to natives of Corfu, they all nodded and said “Gerald Durrell!” Now I don’t know if I believe that Gerry had inhabited the body of a firefly, but I’m sure he had something to do with its appearance and guidance. I really appreciated this excellent book and highly recommend it to all of Gerry’s fans.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

    I can't quite give this biography five stars, but I think Douglas Botting did a very good job with difficult material. He managed to completely convey who Gerald Durrell was as a person. He gave first wife Jacquie a voice in the book (and since it is the authorized bio, she could have been scrubbed out). However, Gerry's treatment of Jacquie was shabby, and his weird idealization of his second wife, Lee, left a bad taste in my mouth. I looked at pictures of him with both his wives and he looked I can't quite give this biography five stars, but I think Douglas Botting did a very good job with difficult material. He managed to completely convey who Gerald Durrell was as a person. He gave first wife Jacquie a voice in the book (and since it is the authorized bio, she could have been scrubbed out). However, Gerry's treatment of Jacquie was shabby, and his weird idealization of his second wife, Lee, left a bad taste in my mouth. I looked at pictures of him with both his wives and he looked tremendously odd next to both of them: Jacquie, whom he married in 1950, looked like a young boy, while second wife Lee looked like the glamorous daughter to his portly father. His habit of explosively blowing up when he felt jealous or disregarded, and then his chronic alcoholism, which led to cirrhosis of the liver, cast a pall over what started out as a pretty marvelous life. It's impossible not to conclude that Gerald Durrell, much as he achieved for the planet, had a tremendous blind side to his own selfishness, and was much more like his narcissistic, unpleasant brother Larry internally than outward appearances showed. The book is extremely fair, with no axe to grind, but in my opinion tarnishes his legacy somewhat.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary Nissen-Wade

    A thoroughly engaging read; a thick volume that left me sorry it ever had to end – as I could say of Durrell's life too. I fell in love long ago with the child Gerald and his family, as written of by his adult self in 'My Family and Other Animals' and its sequels. Also I saw some of his TV programs about wildlife conservation. He himself was a very engaging writer, a beautiful wrier in fact, and a man with an admirable mission in life – indeed, a huge vision – which he did his best to realise, a A thoroughly engaging read; a thick volume that left me sorry it ever had to end – as I could say of Durrell's life too. I fell in love long ago with the child Gerald and his family, as written of by his adult self in 'My Family and Other Animals' and its sequels. Also I saw some of his TV programs about wildlife conservation. He himself was a very engaging writer, a beautiful wrier in fact, and a man with an admirable mission in life – indeed, a huge vision – which he did his best to realise, and a very good best it was. Botting, a fellow naturalist, does him absolute justice with his own writing, and also includes long extracts from Gerald's writings – largely his letters and diaries. I read it as an ebook – which I prefer – text only. I'm sure any illustrations would have been interesting, but photos of the main characters and creatures can be found online. The wonderful words are the thing, and the wonderful story in all its ups and downs. It was a life well lived, albeit unconventionally. I can't recommend the book highly enough.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I've had this one on my shelf for a while but I knew that the ending would be a difficult read. I was right! There were tears but I'm glad I read it. I have loved Gerald Durrell for years and his zoo on Jersey is one of my favourite places on Earth. This book opened up Gerald's world for us all to have a sneak peak at what drove this extraordinary man and bask a little in his gigantic personality. I was most of the way through and wondering when they were going to mention Jambo and he was finall I've had this one on my shelf for a while but I knew that the ending would be a difficult read. I was right! There were tears but I'm glad I read it. I have loved Gerald Durrell for years and his zoo on Jersey is one of my favourite places on Earth. This book opened up Gerald's world for us all to have a sneak peak at what drove this extraordinary man and bask a little in his gigantic personality. I was most of the way through and wondering when they were going to mention Jambo and he was finally mentioned in the last chapter. I wish they had managed to get Gerald's take on what happened but maybe the author wasn't privy to that information. I will be trying to get my hands on the book "Jambo: a gorilla's story" by Richard Johnstone to read more about this amazing incident. If you have no idea what I'm on about, google Jambo Jersey zoo. This book did not disappoint and I highly recommend to anyone interested in animals and conservation. Very inspiring.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vien Guenther

    This is a pretty long book! But an interesting story of a dedicated man. For a guy who didn't have a degree, he achieved so much in his life and contributed so much to preserving the animals. I think he deserved higher recognition for his dedication and achievements. The fact that he was an alcoholic didn't prevent him from doing the things he loved most and should not detract from his reputation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sue Heaser

    I found this book too long and I got quite weary of Gerald Durrell by the end. My Family and O A has always been a great favourite, but sadly I didn’t like GD so much after reading about his life after Corfu.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate Dupuis

    Excellent bio Well written, chronicling an extraordinarily interesting life as well as the birth of animal and habitat conservation and the modern zoo. Contains large chunks of Durrells writing which are both amusing and poetically descriptive.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Saga

    Amazingly interesting and kept me hooked throughout all of the 600 (?) pages.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick Sanders

    An impressive biography, about an impressive man.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kathie

    Well researched and written

  17. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Being from Jersey, I was very interested to read about Gerald Durrell's inspiration for creating the Wildlife Trust and Zoo on the island and his experiences with animals throughout his life. He was a more complex and tortured character than I had anticipated. I enjoyed reading this book and it has renewed my interest in animal welfare and preservation. Very compelling.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Gerald Durrell has been one of my favourite authors since I read The Bafut Beagles when I was nine and I've always admired his determination to conserve endangered species, the little, un-noticed creatures more than the spectacular, headline-grabbing ones. Douglas Botting's biography was approved by his family and presents a detailed and unflinching portrait of this charismatic, driven and creative man. GD wasn't a saint or any kind of paragon, he was a high functioning alcoholic and could have Gerald Durrell has been one of my favourite authors since I read The Bafut Beagles when I was nine and I've always admired his determination to conserve endangered species, the little, un-noticed creatures more than the spectacular, headline-grabbing ones. Douglas Botting's biography was approved by his family and presents a detailed and unflinching portrait of this charismatic, driven and creative man. GD wasn't a saint or any kind of paragon, he was a high functioning alcoholic and could have lived so much longer. His remarkable achievements have altered the way endangered species are appreciated and conserved. His Jersey Zoo is a model for conservationists worldwide and his books are many and varied. All this Douglas Botting catches with zest and clearly an enormous quantity of research. The details of GD's final illness are not for the faint hearted but are honest. My only qualms are with the way the treatment of Jacquie, GD's first wife, seem to be glossed over. Otherwise this is a fascinating read for any GD fan, and for anybody interested in how attitudes to conservation have progressed since the 1950's.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    As a great fan of My family and others animals and its two sequels written by Gerald Durrell, and after a visit to his Jersey's zoo, I was prepared to like this biography. I didn't expect to dislike so much the author's style of writing... At first, it was alright, the first part of the book, in India and in Greece, is nice, but when Gerald Durrell reached adulthood, the style was more and more disagreeable. Douglas Botting seems to have a blind admiration for Gerald Durrell, and everything he did As a great fan of My family and others animals and its two sequels written by Gerald Durrell, and after a visit to his Jersey's zoo, I was prepared to like this biography. I didn't expect to dislike so much the author's style of writing... At first, it was alright, the first part of the book, in India and in Greece, is nice, but when Gerald Durrell reached adulthood, the style was more and more disagreeable. Douglas Botting seems to have a blind admiration for Gerald Durrell, and everything he did is wonderful and spectacular. These are two quotes from this book that prevent me from reading this biography to its end: "Jacquie (Gerald's wife) was beside herself. The man could write after all. And he could write like a dream.Gerald's simple, seemingly artless, deceptively straightforward story, devoid of literary pretentions, embodied everything that he had learnt." "Gerald stood stock still, staring in awe and humily as if at the dawn of creation, and with his feet rooted firmly in the mud and his eyes fixed firmly on the sublime he responded to the call of nature in more senses than one" I'm not sure I will ever finish this book

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Brooke

    This narrative of the life of Gerald Durrell is exhaustive and well-written but one might do just as well to read Durrell’s own books of his adventures. Certainly that would be the place to start, with the adventurous first half of the naturalist’s life. The biography starts to drag when it gets into the second half, as did Durrell’s own life. It is simply not as interesting to read of that, although Botting does his best with it. The book does get sketchy at points in Durrell’s later years, as i This narrative of the life of Gerald Durrell is exhaustive and well-written but one might do just as well to read Durrell’s own books of his adventures. Certainly that would be the place to start, with the adventurous first half of the naturalist’s life. The biography starts to drag when it gets into the second half, as did Durrell’s own life. It is simply not as interesting to read of that, although Botting does his best with it. The book does get sketchy at points in Durrell’s later years, as it can no longer draw as extensively on the subject’s own writing. For someone already interested in Gerald Durrell, his life and his work, the biography would be recommended. For the casual reader, go read ‘My Family and Other Animals’ or one of Durrell’s other popular books.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Don Wilton

    Huge book for a huge man. Single minded and ruthless in pursuit of his ambitions and yet his legacy surely justifies his Maverick manners. It is a wonder that his first wife (poitically poles apart) stayed with him as long as she did and yet his second (young enogh to be his daughter) re-kindled him and his task of establishing one of the most important zoos in the world. What lessons are there to be learnt from that. I suspect that there are some most ineresting sub plots barely hinted at in th Huge book for a huge man. Single minded and ruthless in pursuit of his ambitions and yet his legacy surely justifies his Maverick manners. It is a wonder that his first wife (poitically poles apart) stayed with him as long as she did and yet his second (young enogh to be his daughter) re-kindled him and his task of establishing one of the most important zoos in the world. What lessons are there to be learnt from that. I suspect that there are some most ineresting sub plots barely hinted at in this excellent biog that involve the flirting, womanising but essentially charming side of this great man.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Since I was a Durrell fan and read everything, I went a bought his biography. One thing that is striking is that Durrell lied a lot about his time in Corfu, with a couple of exceptions a lot of the events or characters detailed were made up (Theodore and Spiro did exist though) and also when travelling Durrell like to hunt as well, until he took zookeeping seriously. Botting portrays Durrell as a careless youth who grew up to be a sensible adult, with the odd slip here and there. It makes enterta Since I was a Durrell fan and read everything, I went a bought his biography. One thing that is striking is that Durrell lied a lot about his time in Corfu, with a couple of exceptions a lot of the events or characters detailed were made up (Theodore and Spiro did exist though) and also when travelling Durrell like to hunt as well, until he took zookeeping seriously. Botting portrays Durrell as a careless youth who grew up to be a sensible adult, with the odd slip here and there. It makes entertaining reading and since it's the only one out there I guess it's the best one.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    “The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer, but when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again.” William Beebe. Botting writes about this inspiritional yet complex man well (with the help from those closest to Durrell)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rhode

    Revealing. It's interesting to note the difference between this bio and the subject's own auto-bios. Not a bad thing, just a useful reminder that we are all multi-faceted and the side we show in our stories about ourselves will always be somewhat different than an outsider's view of our lives.

  25. 4 out of 5

    RunRachelRun

    Always wanted to have a childhood similar to Gerry Durrell's - moving about the world, trailling animals and insane siblings, friends and hangers-on. It's a completely different world now that we're all plugged in online. There's no getting "lost" anymore.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    I grew up reading Gerald Durrell, and eventually I had a chance to visit his zoo in Jersey. This book made me laugh and cry and cemented his place in my pantheon of heroes (though flawed intensely, as all real heroes are).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ann Kewley

    Fantastic. Wonderful book. I could barely put it down. Now I wish I could have met Gerald. Written in a compelling fashion.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Evie

    A well written, human account of a complex man. Botting does him justice, I believe, as much as anyone can.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sybil Vosler

    An amazing life. Too many words spent on his declining health and death though.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cognac Legion

    I think my fangirl requirements are now complete.

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