Innocence by Roald Dahl


I was thrilled to receive a collection of four Roald Dahl books recently which are to be published on the 10th August. Innocence, War, Trickery and Fear are all collections of stories from one of our most beloved authors to mark his centenary. As a child I grew up reading his much loved children’s books with Fantastic Mr Fox being my favourite. As several of his books were dear to me as a child I was really interested in reading the stories intended for an older audience…

The first book I chose to read was Innocence: Tales of Youth and Guile. The majority of the book is devoted to Boy, Dahl’s autobiography of his early years which was originally published in 1984. The story spans his formative years and coming of age from birth through to his first job, his adventures abroad and the outbreak of war in which he was to become a fighter pilot. I found this to be an enjoyable read which provided fascinating insight into Dahl’s early life. In it we learn of the tragic events that befell his family which was heartbreaking, but also the bond between Dahl and his family. I particularly enjoyed reading about Dahl’s close relationship with his mother, with whom he maintained weekly correspondence for many years whilst they were apart. We also get to read about childhood memories of mischief and there were moments that made me smile and in some cases wince as I learned of some of the things that happened to Dahl in childhood, some of the situations he found himself in. And then of course there were the experiences that helped shape him as a writer, with certain events proving inspiration for the childhood classics we know today.

Alongside Boy there are four other stories which deal with the subject of innocence and how it can be lost through the challenges of growing up. These include ‘Lucky Break’ in which Dahl discusses his writing career and how it came about, as well as his methods of remembering the ideas that would later blossom into fully formed characters or stories. It was great to see the snippet of writing that became my favourite, Fantastic Mr Fox. This made for an interesting read. My favourite of the additional stories is ‘The Landlady’ which was originally published in 1959. This story of an unsuspecting young man who stays in a cheap, unusually quiet, hotel has a sinister tone to it – especially when it becomes clear the friendly landlady may have something in mind for her guest. The collection is completed with ‘Taste’ – the story of a wager that has consequences for a father and his daughter, and ‘Galloping Foxley’ in which a commuter comes face to face with a familiar face from his school days…

What all of these stories, and Roald Dahl’s writing, have in common is their ability to captivate a reader, and I finished this collection in one sitting. Next up, I will be reading and reviewing War: Tales of Conflict and Strife so look out for my review of that very soon!

Innocence will be published on 10th August 2017 by Penguin and is one of eight centenary editions exploring the darker side of human nature. Many thanks to Sam Deacon at Penguin for providing copies for review.

5 thoughts on “Innocence by Roald Dahl

  1. I wil be adding this collection to my TBR! Great review and I can’t wait to see what you think of War: Tales of Conflict & Strife.

    Liked by 1 person

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