Tuesday 8 May 2018

Whatever Happened To Margo? by Margaret Durrell @PenguinUKBooks @CatMitchell17

In 1947, returning to the UK with two young children to support, Margaret Durrell starts a boarding house in Bournemouth. But any hopes of respectability are dashed as the tenants reveal themselves to be a host of eccentrics: from a painter of nudes to a pair of glamorous young nurses whose late-night shifts combined with an ever-revolving roster of gentleman callers leading to a neighbourhood rumour that Margo is running a brothel. Margo's own two sons, Gerry and Nicholas, prove to be every bit as mischievous as their famous Uncle Gerald - and he himself returns periodically with weird and wonderful animals, from marmosets to monkeys, that are quite unsuitable for life in a Bournemouth garden.

Whatever Happened To Margo? by Margaret Durrell was first published in 1995 and has been re-published in paperback by Penguin on 15 March 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Margaret Durrell's memoir was originally published in 1995, and I suspect that it's because of the very popular and successful TV show The Durrells that this has now been re-published and re-jacketed.
There's been a huge surge in interest in the Durrell family over the past few years, and anyone who read Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals will know that Margo has been expertly portrayed on our television screens.

I was unaware that Margaret had written a memoir, so was really interested to see what she'd got up to after the family left Corfu. Margo married a British RAF man, and had two children. However they later divorced and Margo and her sons returned to Bournemouth in 1947. Struggling financially, she's encouraged by her Aunt Patience to open a boarding house.

In true Margo fashion, she sets about to do just that, and her recollections of her assortment of guests are at times, quite hilarious. Margo seems to attract the oddest of people, but as her own family are not the most normal of folk, she takes it all in her stride. It's great to be reacquainted with her mother; Louisa, and her three brothers, Lawrence, Leslie and Gerry. None of them have really changed, and of course Gerry is accompanied by a collection of animals ... well, why wouldn't he be?

With a forward written by Gerald Durrell, this is an entertaining memoir that made me smile a lot. There were times when I found the writing to be a little flowery and maybe could be termed as old-fashioned. However, just imagine Margo herself speaking, and it's really a perfect fit!

Margo Durrell pictured at her Bournemouth home in 1995
Margaret 'Margo' Durrell (1920 - 2007) was the younger sister of novelist Lawrence Durrell, and elder sister of naturalist and author Gerald Durrell, whose Corfu Trilogy- My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods feature her as a character. 

Born in British India, she was brought up in India, England and Corfu. 

Margo had two children, Gerry and Nicholas, with her husband Jack Breeze, a British Royal Air Force pilot whom she met when he was stationed in Corfu during the Second World War. 

After they divorced, she moved back to Bournemouth, and started the boarding house she wrote about in her inimitable memoir, Whatever Happened to Margo? 

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