Gerald Durrell (1925-1995)

Adrian Rookwhistle made a living as a clerk for Bindweed, Cornelius, Chunter and Company.  He was raised in the rural village of Meadowsweet by a loving couple who perished in an accident involving a bridge railing.  His only remaining relative was Uncle Amos, the owner of a country residence devoted to providing a comfortable existence for various privileged animals.

One day he received a letter informing him that his uncle had died, leaving him 500 lbs. and Rosy, his cherished pachyderm.  Rosy was soon delivered via an enormous dray drawn by eight exhausted horses.  Following a lady-like exit, Rosy removed Adrian’s hat which she put on her own head.  Then she ambled off toward the local pub in search of beer, which she loved.  Adrian had arranged for housing with the local coffin-maker, Mr. Pucklehammer, possessor of a large yard and shed normally used for rare woods and funerary appurtenances, but this was a short-lived expedient, as Rosy’s habits – drink and curiosity – interfered with Mr. Pucklehammer’s routine.  After mutual consultation with said Mr. P, Adrian obtained leave from his employers and decided to walk Rosy to the coast in search of a Circus or Fair that might possibly be interested in hiring her.

They set off one delightful morning in the spring sunshine, admiring the flowers and woods, following little-frequented byways so as to avoid traffic and liquid temptations of the pub sort.  Topping a small grassy hill, they stopped to rest for a while.  Adrian was entertaining his new pet with a short concert of banjo music, when a series of loud horn blasts was heard across the valley, followed by a fox dashing through the underbrush.  Soon a pack of hounds, tongues lolling, raced by, succeeded by an enthusiastic clutch of red-uniformed riders blowing cornets and shouting.  Rosy became excited and in the ensuing brawl, picked the Huntmaster up and dropped him at Adrian’s feet.  In the resulting astonishment and shrieking, Adrian and Rosy managed to quietly merge into the trees.

At evening’s approach, the pair found themselves confronted by a very large set of iron-clad gates, evidently guarding the approach to a major estate.  A suave young man smoking a cigarette invited them inside and supervised the installment of Rosy in the nearby horse-stables.  After dinner, Lord Fenneltree, their host, persuaded a reluctant Adrian to allow Rosy to participate in an upcoming birthday celebration in honor of his wife.  The idea was to decorate the elephant with Indian garments and a howdah, and, with his lordship riding on top, to make a grand entrance for the edification and amazement of the guests.  Things didn’t function as planned.  Rosy slipped on the polished tiles and slid across the room, demolishing the groaning board of food and drink, and bringing the concomitant decorations crashing to the floor.  Mrs. Fenneltree was not amused.

Escaping the consequences of the catastrophe, Rosy and Adrian escaped to the sheltering woods and spent the next several days avoiding the notice of potential officers of the law.  Parked on another hill they happened to meet a white witch, named Black Nell, who advised them to  travel to Scallop Island, just off the coast, and to inquire for a Mr. Ethelbert Creep, who might be interested in employing an elephant.  On the way, they stop at the Unicorn and Harp pub where they make friends with Peregrine Filigree who is a reincarnationist, and his daughter Samantha, who is competent at everything.  She helps them evade the police and puts them on the right path to the coast.  While traveling on the ferry from Sploshport on Solent, Rosy very much enjoys the boat ride, rocking back and forth with her eyes half-closed.

They find refuge with Mr. Creep, following the sound of his tuba-playing until they discern a deserted shack on the outskirts of town.  Mr. Creep introduces them to Emanuel Clattercup, a local stage manager, who, with maniacal gusto, hires Rosy to act in his upcoming production of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”.  Opening night, Rosy unluckily finds an abandoned bottle of brandy and with its help contrives to wreck the theater through her unfamiliarity with the newly installed revolving stage.  Surprised, she tries to keep up with its rotational motion, causing to run faster and faster, ending in total destruction of the scenery and associated appendages and accouterments.  In the havoc, Adrian and Rosy escape to the mainland, but are arrested and brought up before Judge Sir Magnus Ramping Fumitory.  Due to the cleverness of Samantha and Lord Crispin Turvey, all charges are dismissed and the characters retire to the vicinity of the Unicorn and Harp for a celebratory picnic.  Rosy unearths a barrel of cherry brandy and runs away, over the flowery hills and dales, chased by a stream of picnickers, all waving bottles, bread sticks and sandwiches, laughing and giggling into the sunset.

Gerald Durrell, of course, was the brother of Lawrence, the author of the Alexandria Quartet, the Black Book and other famous works.  Mr. Durrell spent his life collecting animals and supervising zoos, and wrote quite a few books, most of them riotously humorous but some of them at the opposite extreme.  I read a copy of his ghost stories years ago that i still remember when i occasionally wake up in the middle of the night.  I like his writing a lot and trust that others might do so as well…




15 thoughts on “ROSY IS MY RELATIVE”

    1. i know you love animals and you’ve most likely read a lot of Durrell… i did too when i was younger; so when i ran across this at the library book sale i couldn’t resist…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh. My. Goodness. That is the best story I’ve read about in I don’t know when. And he wrote ghost stories? Must. Get. These. Books. Thanks for the seductive review! Wow.


    1. lol! i’m really glad you liked it, Sharon…. i must warn you, tho… GD lives in a different universe than most of us… and perhaps a better one…


  2. I’ve read a lot of Larry over the years, but read my first Gerry pretty recently (the obvious one: My Family and Other Animals.) That Gerry was a lot of fun and this sounds like it would be, too.


    1. i guess most of his books are out of print, now… there’s a big gap between the Gutenberg archives and so-called modern lit and GD’s work would fall into that… so used book stores or used sales of some sort are about the only resource for them that i know of…


      1. My library’s pretty well-stocked with Gerry, but not this one, alas…

        I suspect they will screw up copyright so that nothing from past 1923 will get added to Project Gutenberg ever again.


    1. tx, Brian… it WAS a lot of fun… i wonder about myself sometimes, with my taste for light humor… but sometimes it seems the only way to deal with present reality, haha…


  3. Your review put me right into the story and the surroundings. I have read The Alexandria Quartet. Loved most of it. But the brother sounds much less serious. I will watch for his books.


    1. i’ve never read Lawrence… i think i started one once, but it was like shoehorning a Ford V-8 into a Ferrari without a shop manual: didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me… but maybe someday in another incarnation… and i do recommend Gerald; he’s a lot of fun most of the time…


  4. Sounds great but I’ve never heard of it. I love his writing & read ‘My Family & Other Animals’ aloud to my daughter a year or so ago & it was a lot of fun. Have you read any of James Herriot’s books? They’re a good laugh as well.


    1. i’ve read most of JH’s books i think… they’re truly delightful, especially due to the fact that our daughter’s a vet…


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