Friday, 18 November 2011

Boy - Roald Dahl (1984)

Sometimes, when my pile of books to be read seems insurmountable and unexciting, I turn to an old favourite, a comfort read. That is why I picked up Boy. I am the kind of person who will read something over and over because I love it, even though I know exactly what is going to happen. I must have read this at least five times as a kid, and the stories - some of which horrified me - made me laugh and led me to read them again and again.

If I have kids, this is going to be one of the many books I shove down their throats. It's set in 1920, a time where if you got tonsillitis, your adenoids would be removed without anaesthetic on the kitchen table. I was a little worried I wouldn't enjoy this book as much now that I'm older, but that's not the case. Read it, have a good laugh and be thankful corporal punishment in schools is now illegal.

Dahl's father died when he was young, and his mother had to bring up six children by herself, but luckily they were quite wealthy. His father was very explicit in that his children had to go to English schools as they were the best in the world. It tells of the Great Mouse Plot of 1924, where Dahl and four other boys put a mouse in a jar of Gobstoppers. His family used to return to Norway every summer and spend their days taking a boat to various little islands. At the age of nine, he was sent to an English boarding school, where the boys would be caned severely. His 22-year-old half-sister bought a car (a very rare thing in the 1920's) and crashed which sliced Dahl's nose almost completely off and it had to  be sewn on again.

When he was twelve he went to a boarding high school, and although he was captain of two sports, he was considered too subversive to be for school captaincy. He and his classmates use to be chocolate testers for Cadbury (which is where he got the idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) He won many awards for his photography - one of which he took of the Arch of Ctesiphon (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) while flying for the Royal Air Force during training in 1940.

Despite his average grades and lack of captaincy, Dahl got a job with Shell and  received his dream posting for a job in East Africa.

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