BooksOfTheMoon

Matilda

By Roald Dahl

Rating: 5 stars

Matilda was always one of my favourite Roald Dahl books as a child, and after seeing the musical recently (which is rather marvellous, by the way, and if you get the chance, you should go and see it), I was inspired to re-read the book. I’m very pleased that it holds up very well to adult reading, and still made me laugh as much as it did when I was young. It’s got the trademark Roald Dahl darkness as well, which is just delicious, most obviously in the character of Miss Trunchbull, but also in Matilda’s neglectful parents, who think that books are pointless and who fail to see anything special in Matilda herself.

A fantastic book, that well deserves its place in the canon.

Book details

ISBN: 9780140327595
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year of publication: 1988

Trickery

By Roald Dahl

Rating: 3 stars

This collection is part of a themed series put out by Penguin to showcase Dahl’s adult short fiction. The clue to the theme is in the title, with trickery and deceit being the order of the day. Some of the stories fit the theme by a thread (such as the first story, The Wish about a boy who imagines his carpet to be full of monsters), but most are good fits. I hadn’t known that one of my favourite Dahl books as a youngster, Danny, the Champion of the World, was based on a short story, but it was, and it’s in this collection. The plot is much the same (but with adult protagonists) but with fewer words, there’s less space for characterisation.

The longest story in the collection is one of Dahl’s ‘Uncle Oswald’ stories, and it’s nice to see the licentious old man get the wool pulled over his eyes. Other highlights for me included The Surgeon about a surgeon who is given an astounding gift; and Beware of the Dog about an RAF pilot who comes down and finds himself in hospital.

While some of these have lost their sting over the years, many others still retain their bite and sense of “oof” that comes with the twist. It’s a fun collection, if quite short, and a decent introduction to Dahl’s adult short fiction.

Book details

ISBN: 9781405933230
Publisher: Penguin
Year of publication: 2017

War: Tales of Conflict and Strife

By Roald Dahl

Rating: 3 stars

This book brings together Dahl’s wartime memoir, Going Solo, and several short stories he wrote about the experience of war. I must confess that although I’ve read Going Solo before, it wasn’t familiar at all when I came to re-read it. It was an interesting memoir of a very different time when young men would go out from Britain to work in the Empire, and obediently lined up when called for duty in war.

The stories are possibly more interesting. Going Solo is written in quite a light-touch way, with little emotion. The stories are where Dahl lets his feelings about war out and especially the last two, Someone Like You and The Soldier, both about the effects of war on those who fight it, are very affecting.

Book details

ISBN: 9781405933193
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year of publication: 2017

Completely Unexpected Tales

By Roald Dahl

Rating: 5 stars

This volume collects two books of Dahl’s short stories for adults, and they are pretty much all corkers. I wasn’t hugely familiar with his writing for adults, so came into this quite fresh, and I really enjoyed it. Each story is really well crafted and almost all of them have a really neat (often rather nasty) twist that turns the knife in a really pleasurable way for the reader (if often not for the protagonist).

I would say that the first book, Tales of the Unexpected is somewhat better than the second (More Tales of the Unexpected), with more stories and more interesting twists but there are very few misses throughout this whole collection.

It’s difficult to pick out highlights in the collection, but the first and last stories stand out for me. Taste is about an overconfident father who’s willing to bet his daughter’s hand in marriage over something he shouldn’t. The Butler brings us very neatly back to a similar theme regarding palate. Other highlights include William and Mary, which is one of the very few stories in the collection that contains a fantastic element; the incredibly creepy Royal Jelly about a man trying to do the best for his newborn child; and The Landlady, whose titular lady is just too good to be true.

A marvellous collection, if you only know Dahl from his (also marvellous) children’s fiction, these stories will make you look at him in a whole new light.

Book details

Publisher: Penguin Books
Year of publication: 1979

The Enormous Crocodile

By Roald Dahl

Rating: 4 stars

A fun little romp about an enormous crocodile who wants to eat little children and the other animals who thwart him. One for the younger reader.

Book details

ISBN: 9780141311524
Publisher: Puffin
Year of publication: 1978

The Twits

By Roald Dahl

Rating: 5 stars

The horrible story of Mr and Mrs Twit and how they get what’s coming to them. A great fun story, complemented, as always, by Quentin Blake’s excellent drawings. I really enjoy Dahl’s wicked sense of humour and look forward to the villains getting their appropriate sticky end

Book details

ISBN: 9780140314069
Publisher: Puffin
Year of publication: 1980

Boy and Going Solo (Roald Dahl’s Autobiography, #1-#2)

By Roald Dahl

Rating: 4 stars

Roald Dahl led an interesting early life, and these two books tell the story well. Boy tells the story of Dahl’s childhood, until he leaves school, and Going Solo takes it from there until the end of his active service in the second world war. Both worth reading.

Book details

ISBN: 9780141311418
Publisher: Puffin
Year of publication: 1984

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