I binge-watched The Durrells during lockdown last year and really enjoyed it for the warm, easy-watching experience that it was. So when I spotted this book on NetGalley, the title intrigued me and I requested a copy.
Sadly, I really struggled to get invested in this book. I kept pushing, hoping that it would pick up, but it never did. The characters didn't speak to me on any meaningful level, which is something that really ruins the reading experience. I did start to feel a small emotional connection to Penny and Tess in the last 40 pages or so, but it was a case of too little too late.
I can see that there was a clear attempt to immerse the reader in the Corfu setting, but for me the author tried a little too hard. The descriptions were so detailed and over-full of emotive adjectives that they actually had the opposite effect than they were supposed to - I found them to be overdone and hard to follow, and I ultimately struggled to picture what was being written about in my mind. Similarly, the writing style in general felt quite meandering - this may well have been done on purpose to reflect the loose and freeing journey that everyone was on, but it didn't work for me and left me feeling that not much was really resolved in the end.
I did enjoy the references to the Durrells, both as a real-life family, and a media entity in the books and TV show. The author was very respectful of the family legacy and had obviously invested time and energy into properly researching the topic.
I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that this book will appeal to, but I had to work too hard to push through it, so it's not for me.
After a year that sees a broken-off engagement and the death of her beloved father, Penny is desperate to get away.
Fulfilling a childhood dream, she sets off on a month-long pilgrimage to Corfu--an island idyll she knows only through the pages of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals.
On the island, Penny quickly finds herself drawn into the lives of a tight-knit circle of strangers. Exploring--searching for the places the Durrells knew decades before--she makes unexpected discoveries about the hopes, fears, and secrets of the people living there today.
And as strangers start to be friends, lives past and present become entwined in ways none of them could have predicted. . .
You can buy the book here now. It was published by Harper Inspire.