On the birthday of one of my favorite childhood authors, I am here with a review of the first part of Dahl’s autobiography “Boy,” or alternatively titled “More About Boy.” I was surprised that I have never come across this until recently despite having read the latter half of his memoir “Going Solo” years ago.
“Boy” describes the earlier half of Dahl’s life tracing his Norwegian parents arrival to Britain and later into his school years. It is such a fun and light-hearted book where you can read about the ingenious tricks he played on others and also his love for all things sweet and chocolatey. And of course, how could I forget the wonderful illustrations of Quentin Blake?
This book reminded me of his another work “Matilda” because both were set inside an English school where the main protagonists faced horrible teachers. During Roald Dahl’s time at prep school, he remembered a particularly nasty master (old English way of calling teacher) called Captain Hardcastle.
Master: What is it?
Boy: Please, sir, may I be excused to go to the lavatory?
Master: Certainly not. You should have gone before.
Boy: But sir… please, sir… I didn’t want to before… I didn’t know…
Master: Whose fault was that” Get on with your work!
Boy: But sir… Oh, sir… Please, sir, let me go!
Master: One more word out of you and you’ll be in trouble.
Naturally, the wretched boy dirtied his pants, which caused a storm later on upstairs with the Matron.
What I found even more endearing was Roald Dahl love for his mother that was plain for all to see in this work. As matriarch to a family of six children after her husband passed away, Sofie Dahl as described by her son ‘was undoubtedly the absolute primary influence on my own life.’ Throughout the author’s time away from home, he would assiduously send letters and photographs back to his mother who would then brilliantly kept them all neatly in a stack.
His favorite memories were their annual family trip to Norway for four weeks every summer and he wrote,
“I don’t think we knew how lucky we were to have a holiday like that every summer of our growing-up lives. I don’t think we knew either how lucky we were to have a mother who gave us such a lovely time every year.”
I find “Boy” such a lovely book suitable for children AND adults alike. This is unlike “Going Solo,” which has a more somber tone because of the historical involvement Dahl had in his adult years, “Boy” is a much simper tribute to our childhood.