Love from Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to His Mother
Roald Dahl, born a hundred years ago of Norwegian immigrant parents in Wales, schooled in England, adventured in Newfoundland, worked in Kenya, flew war planes in the Middle East, …. even this geographical teaser intimates a remarkable life. In the hands of a marvelous writer the places became steeped in exploits of one kind or another. Dahl’s letters to his mother, a determined and resourceful widow who raised seven children, were written between 1925-1965 reveal a frankness to which parents are not always privy. While detailed in varying degree, they seem not to conceal foibles, successes, and excesses. Editor Donald Sturrock invites us to share Dahl’s school years (early commonplace ones could have been skipped) and the high school ones that allow us to compare 1930s adolescence with today’s.
Far more readable, the letters written during World War 2 when Dahl served as a Royal Air Force pilot describe his sense of excitement until he received serious injuries when his plane crashed over the desert in Egypt. After a lengthy recovery period he was chosen for a prime post in Washington that was not entirely satisfactory on either side. America presented new adventures, a spell enjoying the glamour and intensive work under Walt Disney’s wing in Hollywood and, more lastingly, his writing career launched with articles in widely-read magazines like the Saturday Evening Post.
The letters offer a new perspective of the versatile author, but come across as choppy, with gaps suggesting a length limit to the book. To avoid laying blame on Sturrock, the sterility is no doubt due in part to the nature of personal correspondence. They are not compelling and miss the enchantment of Boy.
Blue Rider Press