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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

The Real Roald Dahl (Author: Nadia Cohen)

The Real Roasld Dahl (Book Cover)

Genre: Biographical

The Real Roald Dahl by Nadia Cohen

Having googled, I now remember being brought up with Roald Dahl books in the house & possibly even at school, reading 'James & The Giant Peach', 'The Witches', 'The Twits' (a personal favourite), 'George's Marvellous Medicine', 'The Magic Finger', 'The Giraffe, The Pelly & Me', 'The Enormous Crocodile' & 'Dirty Beasts'. I don't recall reading the book of 'Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, just seeing the film & thinking it all rather sinister.

This book was a real eye-opener. As a child I imagined Roald to be a lovely old man & grew up with that image. As an adult I had heard that he was difficult to work with. However, there was a lot that was good about him - primarily his ability to be able to tune into what children wanted from literature.

On a personal level, his unwavering determination to provide for his family at all costs & loyalty shown to his wife Patricia Neal after she had a severe stroke, insisting that he be her caregiver even though times were hard, their marriage was compromised & his adoration was with the heart of the woman who would eventually become his second wife until his death in 1990.

The book covers his early life, the deaths of his sister & his father & the move for the family from Norway to the U.K. It explores his school days & his brief career with the R.A.F, his tumultuous first marriage & his children, the death of his eldest daughter (eerily at the same age as his sister) & the jinx that seemed to have been bestowed on the Dahl family with health problems, particularly with those of the brain. I was personally very interested in this part, as his son suffered from a condition that I have had all my life called Hydrocephalus. His was as a result of an accident & Roald was instrumental in the invention of the shunt which drains Cebrospinal Fluid from the brain. This is something that had I not had implanted at just a few days old, I would have died.. so, as well as an amazing children's author who kept millions of children entertained helping them to learn to read, he was also a great inventor (the shunt was not his only pioneering creation), who I have to thank for being here today.

When the question is posed 'which (insert number) famous people, dead or alive would you invite to dinner, one of my 'guests' will always be Roald Dahl.

This book can most definitely be described as a page turner. His life was fascinating & he is to be greatly admired. Plus everyone will get a giggle from his last words before he passed away!

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