Thursday 19 April 2018

Review ~ Whatever Happened to Margot? by Margaret Durrell

March 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

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.

My thoughts about it..

I've always loved My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and have watched the current TV adaptation of his Corfu trilogy with great delight. Margot Durrell is one of my favourite characters so to have a book written by her has been an absolute joy.

We meet Margot again in Whatever Happened to Margot? in 1947 following her divorce from a British RAF pilot. On her return to England from Corfu and with limited financial resources she is persuaded by her aunt Patience to open a guest house in genteel Bournemouth. This idea is met with slight scepticism but as always, Margot with considerable aplomb embarks on this enterprise with great gusto.

Margot’s guest house is soon filled with an assortment of lodgers, some are genuinely odd and others are so funny that they make you laugh out loud with glee. Their adventures are as varied as their characters and it soon becomes obvious that the new occupants of this large Edwardian house, in a quiet leafy street, will certainly shake up the neighbourhood. And as the guest house gets underway and begins to influence the area so Margot's standing in the community starts to take a knock, especially when people accuse her of running a brothel.

The other Durrells who flit into and out of the story add a real sense of continuity and it was lovely to meet up again with Mrs Durrell, always with her interminable knitting in tow, and of course, I looked forward to a visit from Margot's younger brother, Gerald, who landed at the guest house accompanied by a crate of monkeys and large python.

In Whatever happened to Margot?, Margaret Durrell has recounted her adventures as a landlady with a fine eye for the ridiculous and a real sense of time and place. And anyone who has ever read any of the Durrell novels will recognise that marvellous self-deprecating wit which is always so evident. Margot's self exuberance continues this trend, and she writes with a natural flair for observation and more than a hint of the downright eccentric.

If you are a fan of the TV series, then Whatever happened to Margot? is a great continuation of the story of Margot's fascinating and eventful life.

About the Author

Margaret "Margo" Durrell (4th May 1920 - 16th January 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 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 memoir, Whatever Happened to Margo?

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