I’m a relatively late newcomer to the TV series The Durrells (and if you’re a fan you’ll be delighted to know on 30th May it was announced there will be a fourth series). Last year I read an article in Dorset Life magazine about the Durrells in Bournemouth so when I had the opportunity to read Whatever Happened to Margo? written by Margaret Durrell, I jumped at the chance!
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Penguin (15 Mar. 2018)
Available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.
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.
Whatever Happened to Margo? is an entertaining read due partly to the residents of No. 51 (and the neighbours) but also because of Margaret Durrell’s writing style.
From the very first lodger, Edward Feather, you just know this is going to be an eccentric household (despite Aunt Patience’s list of Do’s and Don’ts that Margo has no chance of sticking to). Having read this biography, one thing I can say for definite is how closely the TV series follows real life with those quirky Durrell personalities.
This isn’t a book about Bournemouth itself (I was hoping for more snippets of the town) but the antics of the lodgers and the neighbours at the boarding house on St Albans Avenue. I would recommend you read the article mentioned in my introduction from Dorset Life. There are a couple of photos bringing No. 51 to life.
Recommended if you’re a fan of the Durrells and have an interest in their lives.