I am a die-hard fan of Gerald Durrell. I have been intrigued by his life, fascinated by his family about which he writes in ‘My Family and Other Animals’ and have embarked on numerous journeys with him for collection of animals while reading his books (Catch me a Colobus, A Zoo in my Luggage, Beasts in My Belfry…just to name a few)!
When I came to know his wife had written a book about the life after she married Gerald Durrell, I knew I had to procure it by all means. After searching for almost a year, I luckily found it on an online second-hand bookstore.
In this book, Jacquie Durrell describes her experiences of getting married to a person who was different from the league. All he was interested in were “animals”!! He wanted to go on collection of animals and also have his own zoo.
She tells how Durrell enticed her into marrying him and her entry into the Durrell family. When she got married, they had merely £ 40. It was difficult to make ends meet. She goes on to describe about the arduous journey of a life with Durrell.
“It’s not easy to be the wife of a famous person.” ~~ Jacquie Durrell
She motivated him to write books so as to make money. And as soon as they had a little money, they set on the next animal collection expedition. She writes about these expeditions though not in detail. Later, she describes about the TV series they did with BBC while collecting animals or studying about the steps taken to conserve animals in Australia.
Once, when they were back from the animal collection trip to…, they decided to keep the animals for themselves. She talks about their ordeal to find a suitable place for the zoo and other problems. Eventually, it was a come true for Durrell when he sets up his own zoo! Jacquie is happy for her husband but she realises that the zoo was encroaching upon their married life.
I found the book interesting because it gave few more glimpses into the life of Durrell but the writing can’t be compared. Though the Sunday Times claims it to be “An enchanting and funny book”, I could not agree. The book is humorous in bits and pieces. The writer tries to copy the humorous and witty style of her husband but she is unable to do justice to it.
The book wouldn’t be popular had she not been Gerald Durrell’s wife. I won’t be surprised to know that just like her husband, she too was coaxed to write a book to raise funds for the zoo. Durrell was famous, people wanted to know more about this life…so it was bound to be popular! The book can’t be enjoyed in isolation. Though, if you are a Durrell fan…do go for it!!