Short summary - My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Malcolm Durrell

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - My Family and Other Animals
Gerald Malcolm Durrell


The boy, who later became a famous zoologist, lives on a Greek island in a house with a garden. He floods the house with a variety of animals, which his family doesn't like too much.

The narration is on behalf of ten-year-old Jerry Darrell.

The Darrell family, the widow of Mrs. Darrell and her four children move from England to the Greek island of Corfu: the writer Larry is twenty-three years old, the nineteen-year-old hunting lover Leslie, the eighteen-year-old Margot, and the ten-year-old Jerry, who has been fond of animals since birth. Suffering from the climate of foggy Albion, Darrells at the initiative of Larry hope to improve their health on a sunny island.

In Corfu, the Darrells are greeted by the driver Spiro, respected by the local population, who becomes a devoted friend of the family. Spiro helps the Darrells resolve problems with customs and the bank and rent a small strawberry-pink house with a garden and a bathroom.

Darrells are gradually settling in a new place. Mrs. Darrell takes care of the household, Larry writes books, Leslie hunts, Margot flirts with the local guys, and Jerry with his dog Roger explores the nature of the island. The garden becomes for Jerry a real magical country. For days the boy watches various insects, from the surrounding groves he hears the ringing of cicadas. One day, Jerry finds an earwig nest. He puts protection around him and watches him. But the boy is not lucky: the cubs appear at night. Every morning, Jerry, taking Roger, sets off to explore the island. Locals are friendly to the boy, call him the "little lord", invite him to visit and treat them with various goodies.

One day, Jerry buys a small turtle and calls it Achilles. Pets treat the turtle well until it begins to scratch sunbathers in the garden. Due to complaints and threats from relatives, Jerry has to keep his pet under lock and key. Soon the turtle disappears. The family finds the pet dead in the old well. Achilles is solemnly buried under a bush of strawberries, which he loved. Jerry then acquires an incredibly ugly dove and calls him Quasimodo. Quasimodo is a big music lover. It soon turns out that this is a dove, and Quasimodo flies into the forest with a dove.

The Darrells think Jerry needs to be educated, and Larry hires a tutor, a writer friend. He tries to teach Jerry French, mathematics, history, geography, but the boy is only interested in animals. Once the tutor introduces Jerry to the famous scientist, Dr. Theodore Stefanides, who is no less passionate about zoology than the boy. Despite the difference in age and knowledge, a strong friendship is established between Theodore and Jerry. Now they are exploring the island together. The boy is struck by the depth of knowledge and erudition of his new friend, whom he will not exchange for anything in the world.

Spring is coming. Chauffeur Spiro learns that Margot is dating a Turk, and indignantly reports this to Mrs. Darrell. Mother invites a young man to visit. The Darrells are supportive of Margo's fan, but when he invites her to the movies, Mrs. Darrell decides to go with them. The evening is unsuccessful, and Margot parted with the young man.

Darrells are waiting for the arrival of Larry's friends. The house is too small for guests, and the family moves to a large pale yellow mansion. Mrs. Darrell, Margot and Jerry go to town. On that day, the relics of St. Spyridion, the patron saint of the island, are exhibited. A crowd of pilgrims carries them to the sepulcher, and Margot, whom her mother did not have time to warn, passionately kisses the feet of the saint, asking to save her from acne. The next day she is seriously ill with the flu.

Jerry with the dog Roger master a new garden. Swallows live under the eaves of the house, and the boy watches how the families of these birds behave differently. The tutor is leaving, and Jerry is free, he again explores the island all day. One day he sees turtles emerge from the ground after hibernation. The boy watches their mating games, and his collection is replenished with a turtle egg. Meanwhile, friends of Larry come to the house.

In the garden, Jerry finds a dilapidated wall, in the cracks of which there are many insects. Toads and geckos hunt for them. But most of all the boy is attracted to scorpions. One day he finds a large female scorpion with cubs. Jerry puts his prey in a matchbox, which opens unsuspecting Larry. A terrible commotion rises in the house, Roger bites the handmaiden's leg, and Larry has a fear of matchboxes.

Soon Jerry found a teacher of French, a Belgian consul, a big lover of cats. The consul lives in a poor area of the city and often shoots a gun from a window during a lesson, destroying homeless and sick cats out of pity, which he can do nothing to help. The French lessons that Jerry misses inspire him to do new research with Dr. Theodore, and Mrs. Darrell invites him to yet another teacher, a student. Most often, the tutor gives Jerry a task, and he goes for a walk with Margot.

Jerry brings an owl chick to the house, which, to the surprise of the boy, is welcomed by the family. With the onset of summer, the whole family bathes at night in the bay. Jerry meets a flock of dolphins in the sea. The summer sea phosphorizes, and fireflies flying from olive groves swirl above it.

Jerry's birthday is coming. The family carries out all his orders, especially the boy is grateful to Leslie - he made a boat for his brother on which to explore the small islands located near Corfu. Guests give a birthday to two puppies.

Mrs. Darrell remarks that the relationship between Margot and Jerry's tutor has gone too far and the student is being counted. Margo believes that her life is broken, and Jerry rejoices that he was left without a teacher.

With the onset of winter, the hunting season begins. Leslie is proud of her ability to shoot accurately, but Larry believes that a lot of mind is not necessary. Offended Leslie takes his brother with him on a hunt, but he misses and falls into the ditch. Having caught a cold, an unlucky hunter drinks a couple of bottles of brandy and falls asleep in the room where his mother lit a fireplace. A fire starts at night. Without getting out of bed, Larry gives directions, and when the fire is extinguished, he says that it is not the actions that are important, but the brain’s work, and if it weren’t for him, then everyone would have burned down in their beds.

Darrells move to a small white house. In a new place, Jerry is studying the mantis living in the garden. He watches the war between them and the geckos. One of the geckos settles in his bedroom and brings himself a girlfriend. With another walk, Jerry brings home two huge toads, one of which accidentally eats a female gecko.

Mrs. Darrell finds Jerry another teacher, a middle-aged man with a hump like a gnome. To interest the boy, he is informed that the tutor is a big bird lover. The teacher leads the boy into a huge room, where all the walls from floor to ceiling are hung with cages with a variety of birds. Jerry seems like he went to heaven.

Despite the general hobby, the tutor is seriously engaged with Jerry, for whom the lessons are painful and uninteresting. A boy comes to life only when he helps the teacher with the birds. Jerry soon learns that his mentor lives with his mother, who grows flowers and believes that the plants are talking, just not everyone can hear them.

With another walk Jerry brings two magpie chicks. Larry and Leslie are wary of the new acquisition of his brother, believing that the magpies steal money and jewelry. Soon, the chicks begin to walk around the house. They are especially attracted to Larry's room, which they are not allowed into. Once, in the absence of the owner, the chicks get in there and turn everything upside down. Jerry decides to build a cage for the chicks and asks his teacher for help. The tutor likes to tell incredible stories in which he saves a certain Lady from various troubles. Telling one of the stories, he admits that he owns the methods of struggle, and Jerry asks him to teach. Trying to repeat the technique, Jerry pushes the teacher unsuccessfully, and he falls, breaking his ribs.

Mrs. Darrell inadvertently leads the terrier into the house, an incredibly stupid dog with a sore hind leg. The foot comes out of the joint all the time, and the terrier makes heart-rending cries. The dog is on the heels behind Mrs. Darrell and howls when she leaves the house. Soon the terrier gives birth to a puppy and is torn between him and his mistress. Now Mrs. Darrell goes for a walk accompanied by four dogs and a maid with a puppy on a pillow. Larry calls this procession "mother's circus."

Once during a walk Jerry finds two water snakes. Trying to catch them, he meets a prisoner who killed his wife, but for good behavior can go home for the weekend. He gives the boy his seagull and invites him to night fishing. Larry is horrified by Jerry’s new acquaintance and a new bird, believing that this is not a seagull, but an albatross, bringing misfortune to the house.

Darrells are getting ready for a big party. Jerry dreams of a new acquisition for his menagerie - goldfish, and Spiro catches them in a pond at the royal residence. The horror of heat becomes bad, and Jerry releases them into a cool bath. Guests are arriving. Came from the hunt, Leslie goes to take a bath and soon pops up to the guests with a heartbreaking cry of "Snakes!". Larry explains that every box in their house is fraught with danger, and tells how he suffers from his brother's animals. In confirmation of his words, one of the guests is bitten by a seagull sitting under the table, and the dogs arrange a fight over the terrier.

The teacher tells Mrs. Durrell that he gave Jerry all of his knowledge. Despite the fact that Jerry wants to remain semi-educated, the Darrells decide to return to England to educate him. The crying Spiro, the tutor, and Theodore escort them. At the sight of numerous cages with animals, one of the border guards writes in the questionnaire: "A traveling circus and a staff of employees."