Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bootle Bumtrinket

I've become a reluctant Gerald Durrell fan. Having been traumatized by mandatory reading of Farley Mowat books in my youth, I have developed a literary allergy to any "animal" books.

I avoided the classic My Family and Other Animals for years. I finally succumbed a couple of years ago and I can't even remember why! Perhaps someone I really trust and admire said, "no, really, it's great" and I took it home from the shop. I do remember standing in front of the shelves at the bookstore and picking it up and putting it back and picking it up... until I finally added it to my "to buy" pile.

I didn't even intend to read it myself. I left it for bedtime reading for my husband and son. Big Mistake. The anecdotes that Durrell shares about his family are truly side-splitting funny and my son would laugh so hard that it took forever for him to stop giggling and actually mellow out enough to sleep. And I always had to stop what I was doing and come and listen to the funny bits. And there were plenty of them.

Then I stumbled across the BBC/Masterpiece Theatre version of the film and it is brilliant. The actors were perfect and the screen writers did a masterful job of paring down the book into an enjoyable, cohesive 90 minute film -- with lots of laugh-our-heads-off moments, including the maiden voyage of the Bootle Bumtrinket (one of our favourite parts of the book).

If you have a dislike of animal (naturalist) books, it's worth getting past it to enjoy this tale. Read the book first, definitely. If you then decide to check out the screen version, you won't be disappointed.