Jan 19, 2009

The Whispering Land

by Gerald Durrell

A while back I read A Bevy of Beasts, about Gerald Durrell's apprenticeship in an English zoo. The Whispering Land describes one of Durrell's trips to collect wild animals, after he had established his own private zoo. I got off to an awkward start with this book, because I hadn't yet read its prequel, A Zoo in My Luggage. But after the initial confusion of the first chapter, I settled right into it. Here Durrell describes his travels with a team of assistants to remote areas of Patagonia, where he tracks down local wildlife, mostly those being kept as pets in people's homes, to buy for his collection. He gathered monkeys, coatimundis, peccaries, some odd south American rodents, parrots, macaws, diminuitive owls and numerous other birds. The rescue of a starving, abused ocelot and purchase of a gorgeous young puma rounded out his collection. I loved reading the detailed descriptions of the animals, especially the wildilfe he also observed- guanacos, rheas and armadillos in the forested areas, colonies of nesting penguins, fur seals and elephant seals on the beaches. There's a really funny passage about some foxes playing with a roll of pink toilet paper in one of their camps. Durrell's writing style isn't terribly eloquent, but the descriptions of the local culture, different people he encountered and the animals themselves make this a good read. I was only disappointed that there was a page missing in my copy, so I'll have to look for another one someday for my own library.

Rating: 3/5                        235 pages, 1961

Have you written a blog review about this book? Let me know, and I'll add your link here.


____Maggie said...

Boy, I see a lot of animal books in your posts! Are you doing a personal challenge or is this just how your reading interests run? :)

Jeane said...

It's just my normal interests! I know most people aren't really into reading about animals like me, so I do try to space them out evenly with other types of books, but sometimes I forget and just keep posting about the animal ones.

____Maggie said...

That's funny, Jeane. You shouldn't worry about pleasing your readers. We read you because we like what you read and write. We mother-in-law likes Durrell and this might be why I don't read him. Maybe later when I mature! :)

It could be that animal books just lead to more animal books. I was in a bird and tree rut this late summer and fall. I let my reading taste wonder and it was odd to see I spent so much time in the trees with birds! ;D

Bookfool said...

We've got The Overloaded Ark on the good shelves, although my husband read it and I've yet to get to it. I'm really looking forward to it.