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Non-Fiction Book Reviews –

The Durrells of Corfu by Michael Haag, and Bali Daze by Cat Wheeler

The Durrells of Corfu by Michael Haag

Years ago, when I was studying for my English O’Level, we studied My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, and it was hilarious. It was that book which made me aware of Lawrence Durrell and his writing, so that when I saw Monsieur, the first book of the Avignon Quintet out in bookstores I snapped it up, and as you know, that set off my life long love affair with Lawrence Durrell.

Anyway, this book takes you behind the scenes of the time the family spent on Corfu. It starts with an overall view of the family and what happened before Corfu, and at the end follows up what happened to them afterwards. I already knew a lot of what’s in this book, but that’s because I’ve done lots of reading around Larry, but there were some interesting facts that were illuminating. For example, money wasn’t the main reason the family moved to Corfu, it was concern over Mother’s drinking – she often took to gin when she was depressed and lonely. As Larry and his wife Nancy had already decided to go to Corfu, it seems they felt it important to keep an eye on her!

For those who haven’t read much background on the family, you’ll find it interesting, and also a little disturbing to find out just how much is fictionalised in a supposed non-fiction account of the family on Corfu. Recommended! Here’s the Amazon US link

Bali Daze by Cat Wheeler

During my week in Ubud, Bali, I popped into the Ganesha Bookshop on Jalan Raya – Ubud’s main road. It’s a great little bookshop with a good selection of books, postcards, and prints, and it was there that I picked up Bali Daze. The book’s about Cat Wheeler’s decision to live in Ubud – a pretty brave move after 10 years living in Singapore.

The book is made up of lots of short vignettes about Cat’s experiences on the island, originally written for the Bali Advertiser, and since compiled into this book. The stories are mostly personal, but also cover ecological, educational and health issues. They all offer a fascinating insight into living in Bali, and the mindset of the Balinese. It’s also very funny! Cat writes in an engaging and warm manner about her Bali experiences, and it’s clear she loves her life on the island. It was lovely to read about places I recognised.

If you fancy an island armchair escape, I highly recommend this book. Here’s the link to Amazon.

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