Thursday, December 16, 2010

The miraculous Matilda

Why didn't anybody tell me? Have you read Matilda? Have you read Roald Dahl? Are his other books any good?

The only other Dahl that I've read is The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. And the title story in that collection — what a wonderful story it was! I know squat about its narrative structure, blah, blah, blah, but what a great frickin' story! And when I read it, when I was 11, or maybe 15, it blew my mind.

So here's this Matilda, which I read earlier this week, charming for all sorts of reasons, the well-read eponymous heroine, her criminally thoughtless parents, the weirdly nasty headmistress, et cetera — it's all so sweet (I mean that in a Dickensian way) and funny. But then! [Spoiler alert!] Matilda develops paranormal telekinetic powers! Which is what put me in mind of Henry Sugar.

I know Dahl by reputation (oh, and that terrific Mr Fox movie). Henry Sugar was special, special to me, and I assumed it was unique among his writing. But this paranormal angle fascinates me. Henry Sugar had it, and so does Matilda. Is there more? Do the other books also feature similar uncanny abilities? Are they all this good?

7 comments:

Frances said...

They are all fabulous! Dahl is my favorite children's author by a long shot. I think you would love The BFG too.

Suzanne said...

BFG is great, as is The Witches. My kids and I have read a lot of Dahl books, but, oddly enough, not Matilda. Must put that one on the list. (The only one I was disappointed in was Danny Champion of the World.)

Sara C said...

I must echo Frances: they are ALL fabulous. James and the Giant Peach was my childhood favorite along with The BFG. I've got almost all of them and eagerly await the days when my kids are old enough to appreciate him. (My daughter and I tried James too early, so we'll try again in the next year probably).

Isabella said...

And do they all have mind triumph over matter?

Yvann said...

Matilda is fabulous. Congratulations on having found your way to a marvellous book! :)

The Witches terrified me as a child but it's another great one, ditto his autobiography Boy (not so keen on Going Solo).

BFG and Danny Champion of the World also worth a peruse.

But Matilda is far and away my favourite. Not least because my cousin dubbed me Matilda for "reading too much"...

kissacloud said...

Frances has been talking about Matilda, so I vowed to buy it for my kids (and me). It's my youngest sister's fave kids book but I wonder why I never got around to reading her copy of it. The only Dahl book I read as a kid was James and the Giant Peach (which I loved, btw). I read Boy last year.

Btw, happy happy new year, Isabella!

Ceri K said...

Try George and his marvellous medicine, where George triumphs over his horrible grandmother. Still one of my favourite books from childhood.