'The Durrells in Corfu': Write or Wrong

Daniel Hautzinger
The Durrells in Corfu on Masterpiece
Larry's first book has just been published in England, but no one in his family appreciates his accomplishment. Photo: Sid Gentle Films 2016 & MASTERPIECE

The Durrells in Corfu airs Sundays at 7:00 pm and is available to stream. Read our recaps of the previous and following episodes.

What are the Durrells up to now? Larry’s debut novel was just published in England, an achievement his family meets with indifference and bewilderment – none of them have struggled through the book yet. Margo is studying with Pavlos to become a nun, though she’s more interested in whether Jesus was moody than in his teachings. Upon overhearing Pavlos mention the distilling practice of the monks, Leslie has decided to make kumquat liqueur based on their recipe. And Gerry has found a female otter to begin breeding with the male he already captured.

After Gerry gives Louisa a fright by disappearing one morning – he decided to sleep outside – she moves to impose order upon her madcap household. Afraid that Gerry isn’t getting a proper education, she demands that he stay inside with a book and appoints as warden Lugaretzia – who leashes Gerry, then, afraid she is being cruel, switches the halter to Roger. If the dog stays in the house, so will Gerry.

Louisa asks Theo to tutor Gerry, but the doctor refuses; he’d rather stay Gerry’s friend. Next, she asks Spyros, who eagerly acquiesces. But his authoritative style makes Gerry cry.

Perhaps Louisa will be more successful with another son. Chastened by Leslie’s admonition that she has been completely dismissive of Larry’s ambitions, she sets out to make things right. She orders the family to wade through the novel and asks Theo to organize a public reading from the book. Leslie works to have his liqueur ready for the event, but Larry, who told Leslie he would be his business partner, is too absorbed in his writing career – i.e., failing to charm pretty women into reading his novel – to help.

The Durrells in Corfu on MasterpieceLouisa tries to help Theo by organizing a reading from his novel, but only one person shows up. Photo: Sid Gentle Films 2016 & MASTERPIECE

Despite everyone’s promotion efforts, only one person shows up to the reading. Margo manages to drag in an additional man with the promise of free food, but Larry is so devastated that he cancels the event. He’ll have to save the debut of his fancy artist’s hat, a floppy beret with a tassel, for another day. Theo manages to redeem the failure by bringing Larry letters from England, all praising his book. The postman was afraid of Gerry’s animals, so he hadn’t been delivering the mail.

Theo and the Durrells retire to their home to celebrate – someone has to drink all that liqueur that Leslie distilled. Louisa, however, has missed the happy news. She’s off chastising Hugh for not coming to the reading, despite his attempts to “cosset” her. He has once again tried to woo her over drinks, hiding a violinist in the closet to play romantic music. She was beginning to like this “preposterous but rather amusing” man, until he let her and Larry down – but he soon charms his way back into her good graces.

When she returns home, she finds a raging bacchanal – Leslie’s liqueur packs a punch. Lugaretzia has ridden a bike into a tree, Theo tries to walk on water, Margo is prostrate and burping up a storm. To cap it all off, there’s a pair of magpies flying around – the birds are an apology gift to Gerry from Spyros, who has also joined in the drunken carousing. Even Pavlos shows up, with a prayer book for the “spiritual” Margo. The aghast monk probably had a different kind of spirit in mind.

The next morning is rough, and not just because of the hangovers. Larry – who lost numerous pages of his next novel to the magpies the previous night – blames Louisa for the embarrassment of the reading. Exclaiming that he can’t write in this madhouse, he announces that he’s moving out. (Way to blame everyone but yourself for your writing struggles.)

The Durrells in Corfu on MasterpieceThe Durrells' cozy-but-madcap home has proved too distracting for Larry's writing career, he says. Photo: Sid Gentle Films 2016 & MASTERPIECE

Louisa’s other project also continues to fail. Spyros is trying to be a less strict tutor to Gerry, meaning he’s teaching the boy about cars and women – not what Louisa had in mind. At least Gerry’s otters are finally mating.

Louisa finds a new, scholarly tutor for Gerry, but his assignment of several heavy tomes as homework doesn’t bode well for this relationship. Leslie abandons his liqueur business, attempting to sell the leftovers to the monks; they accept it as a donation and close the door in his face. Hugh treats Louisa to an al fresco dinner on a hilltop overlooking town to take her mind off Larry. She drinks too much, letting her family get revenge on her the next morning for teasing them when they were hung-over.

As Larry leaves home for a cramped studio above a bar, he repents and tells Louisa that she is, in fact, a wonderful mother. If there’s a problem with living at home, it’s that he’s too happy – he needs some hardship to write. She in turn finally offers sincere congratulations on his book. Even in his new place, however, Larry struggles to work. This shadowy room with cheap furniture is not what he naively pictured. Luckily, a beautiful woman outside coyly calls him down to have a drink. Maybe living alone won’t be so boring – especially since the woman is Vasilia.

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Larry is in fact Lawrence Durrell, an author famous for his Alexandria Quartet of novels. The real Lawrence Durrell’s first novel was indeed The Pied Piper of Lovers, and the cover of Larry’s book in the show is the same as that of the real-life first edition.

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