Looking for the Durrells

by Melanie Hewitt

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Books of the Month Feel-Good Fiction Literary Fiction Book Club Recommendations

LoveReading Expert Review of Looking for the Durrells

In this glittering, pellucid jewel of a story, Melanie Hewitt evokes Corfu of the 1930’s, the Durrell family and the present day island with such profound love and affection, you’ll need tissues aplenty.

The Durrell family and their writings have been a source of wonder and inspiration to book illustrator, Penny, since her Father read Gerald Durrell’s “Corfu trilogy” to, and with, her when she was young. 

Now an enduring bond between them as his life nears its end, when the dread day comes, Penny, grieving and needing time and space, embarks on the promise that she and her dad couldn’t fulfil together, a Durrells’ pilgrimage.

Suffused throughout with the scent of flowers, lemon and garlic and the dual salves of sunshine and sea, Hewitt’s tale weaves the lives of fishermen, restaurateurs, holiday company representatives and more into a loving nurturing community, offering a balm to Penny’s spirits. Each character so perfectly drawn and credible, that you feel you know them, might even have actually met them.

At heart this is a story of belonging, proof of the Edna Buchanan phrase that “friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” Penny’s quest for the Durrells’ various homes and the restaurants they ate in, slowly revealing that while she can’t live their lives, she can and should live hers and live it well.

There ought to be a better word for the way sunlight sparkles so brilliantly on the sea, thought “glisters”, as a conflation of “glistens” and “glitters”, gets close, and this book does exactly that, shining calmly and thoughtfully from beginning to end.

This is such a enchanting, uplifting story of love for Corfu, for Corfiots and for life rediscovered, that one wonders why Hewitt has waited to debut. 

That she has done so with such a perfect story, written with charm, insight and an utterly captivating sense of humane sensitivity, augurs well for future novels. And yes, tissues are advised while reading, there may be tears!

Paul Blezard

Looking for the Durrells Synopsis

Fiances, friends, and other animals. . .

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. . .

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780310130451
Publication date: 5th August 2021
Author: Melanie Hewitt
Publisher: Harper Inspire an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Inc
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 304 pages
Collections: Summer Is Here - Feast Your Eyes on LoveReading's Ever-growing List of Summer Reading Recommendations,
Primary Genre Modern and Contemporary Fiction
Other Genres:
Recommendations:
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Looking for the Durrells Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

A beautifully written story which will make you fall in love with the island of Corfu.

This is a lovely book, perfect for cheering yourself up. It probably helps if you've read the Corfu Trilogy, or watched the TV series, but the book can be enjoyed without having done so. The story is beautifully written with evocative descriptions of Corfu and believable characters. Like the original Durrell books, it will make you wish you were there.

Pauline Braisher

A wonderfully uplifting and joyful read.

If you are looking for a light and easy read which also provides lots of enjoyment, this is the book for you! I read it in one go and was delighted with the story, the descriptions and the enjoyment of life on the island of Corfu. I found the premise of researching the three places where the Durrells lived so intruiging, that I have now ordered My Family and Other Animals and also the book on Corfu by G Durrell from the library, to reread if after so many years.
Penny loved the books by the Durrells, but especially the books written about Corfu the Greek island. Bereft because of the death of her father and her failed engagement, she decides to spend a month on Corfu and visit the houses where the Durrells had lived over the years, starting with their first visit in the 1930’s.
Here she discovers friendship and a new love that lights up her life. She also falls in love with the beauty of the island, specifically where she stays in St George South. The descriptions of Corfu are wonderfully vivid and one can feel the dry heat and hear the noise of the cicadas as she moves around the island visiting an olive oil farm and factory, sails to Kalami to view a Durrell house and generally explores what the island has to offer.
The author Melanie Hewitt has a lovely light and entertaining writing style and this made reading the book most pleasurable.

elize ferner

A mini-holiday in the sun with some sympathetic characters.

After a couple of difficult events in her personal life, book illustrator Penny makes a solo trip to Corfu to follow in the footsteps of the Durrell family. Their lives, as portrayed in their books, have become her anchor, and help her explore a whole new side of herself.

The book’s cover is very much in the chick lit tradition, but having read the book I feel it’s misleading to call it that. Penny is older than the stereotypical chick lit heroine and there aren’t the usual confusions and misunderstandings of that genre. Instead this is a sympathetic portrayal of someone recovering from grief while at a crossroads in their life. It tackles serious issues in a sympathetic and engaging way.

I found Penny and the book’s other characters realistic and multi-dimensional, each with their own past and issues caused by foregone events. There are many types of love portrayed, but no sense that there are any easy answers in relationships, just that life is short and we all deserve any happiness we can find. I particularly liked the fact that not everything tied up in a neat bow at the end.

The Corfu setting is spectacular and made me want to take a trip somewhere. The many descriptions of restaurants, food and wine are wonderful and give a real sense of the place. I really enjoyed the book and it took me out of myself while reading it – a mini-holiday in itself.

Susan Berwick

An enjoyable, light read. Perfect for the Summer.

I really enjoyed this heartwarming book. The central character of Penny has had a pretty awful year. Consequently, she decides to journey to Corfu, motivated by Gerald Durrell’s book, My Family and Other Animals. Penny, in exploring the idyllic island, gains new experiences and starts to heal from the loss of her father and broken engagement. Penny is an engaging character and the images of Corfu are beautifully written. It is a light summer book, which doesn’t take too long to read. Enjoyable and uplifting.

Rachael Anderson

Full of gorgeous descriptions of the island of Corfu, this book provides real escapism - a fantastic summer read

First of all, this is a beautifully written book; the descriptions of Corfu are breath-taking and really make you feel like you are there too. Although I have been to Corfu in the past, this portrayal really made me want to go back and explore some more.

I really don’t know much about the Durrells – I haven’t watched the TV series or read the books, however this didn’t affect the enjoyment of the book for me, even though it is peppered with references to them throughout.
The story focuses on Penny who is going through some life-changing moments - she has recently lost her Dad and decided to break up with her fiancé Bruce. She decides to take a month’s holiday to Corfu to explore the where the Durrells lived as they were a big connection to her Dad and her childhood. While there she meets some welcoming locals who make her trip a lot more pleasant by immersing her in local life. She adores the culture and lifestyle and settles well into island life.

This is definitely an ideal book to read through the summer months, with gorgeous descriptions and a real holiday feel about it. My only criticism is that I didn’t feel like I knew the characters that well, there are loads of questions I still have about Penny’s life and her background but this didn’t distract me from enjoying the book.

Nicola Coen

A beautiful book set in Corfu. Penny is a wonderful character who after losing her dad and breaking off her engagement decided to travel to Corfu because of a well loved book she had shared with her father, travelling there for the both of them. She mets some wonderful people on her journey, each with a trouble or tale adding a great layer to the story. A great book to unwind with this summer.

I was instantly drawn by the beautiful cover of this book and the story didn’t disappoint.
Penny is a wonderful character who after losing her dad and breaking off her engagement decided to travel to Corfu because of a well loved book she had shared with her father, travelling there for the both of them.
She mets some delightful characters in Nic, Tess, Theo, Dimitris, Lily, Gus and Rich. Each adding there own layer and beauty in the book, each with a tale or trouble that needed to be healed. The surrounds were described with great detail that I really felt I could see and smell it all too.
My only disappointment was the end. It was so abrupt.
What happens to Penny. Does she bag her man? Does she stay? Do Tess and Nic get a happy ending? Does Nic go off for the winter? Does lily go back to Uni? Does Penny write her book? What do Tess and Dimitris like their paintings?
So many unanswered questions
I wonder if there will be a sequel?
I hope so as I’d like answers
Thank you for allowing me to review this book it was a joy.

Natasha Potter

An enjoyable summer read.

An enjoyable read for you to ‘get away from it all’. The descriptions of Corfu bring the island to life and you can feel the heat, see the glistening sea and soak up the atmosphere of food and drink.
I have not read any of the Durrell’s books but it doesn’t matter. This story does not rely on any pre-known facts about them, and doesn’t really ‘look’ for them either, but that doesn’t matter. The story skips along and is about healing, relaxing and forging ahead with life, about new beginnings and acceptance of who you are and who you want to be.

Heather Byrne

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780310130451
Publication date: 05/08/2021
Format: Paperback

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