A recommendation of Roald Dahl’s book "Boy"
Roald Dahl was a British author, but he also had deep roots in Norway since both his parents were Norwegian. He was born in Llandaff, September 13th, 1916. “Boy” is a book which tells about an important part of Roalds life, his childhood. It is set in France, England, Wales and Norway from the time when his father, Harald Dahl, had to amputate an arm because a drunken doctor mistook his fractured elbow for a dislocated shoulder, back in 1877.
The story starts even before Roald’s birth. He’s telling about his father, Harald Dahl, who married a French lady. They got two children, a boy and a girl, but she died after giving birth to the second child. After her death, Harald went to Norway and found his second wife, Sofie Magdalena Hesselberg, who was going to be the mother of a boy called Roald Dahl. Sofie gave her husband four kids. Altogether they were six children in the family: Roald, his three sisters, his half-brother, and his ancient half-sister. One of Roald's sisters died from appendicitis when Roald was only four years old. Roald’s father was so overwhelmed with grief, that when he himself went down with pneumonia a month later, he could not care less whether he lived or died. So Roald and his family were left alone with their mother. Harald had always told her he wanted his children to go to English schools, which according to him were the best in the world. Because of Sofie’s courage and loyalty to her husband she did not move back to Norway, but sold the big house they had and moved to a smaller house in Llandaff with the six children. When one hears of this it is very understandable why Roald admired his parents so much.
Llandaff Cathedral School
Roalds first childhood memories are from when he was six years old and went to a kindergarten named Cumberland Lodge. The thing he remembers from this time is the trip to and from school on his tricycle, he found it extremely exciting and it is the only memory he clearly remembers from this time. When Roald was 7 years old his mother decided to send him to Llandaff Cathedral School. He got himself five buddies, and they all took part in a plot against a vicious owner of a sweetshop.
Once they got punished with five cracks from the whip. His mother stepped in and took Roald out of school.
From the age 9 to 13 Roald went to St Peter’s. That was the years 1925-1929. At St Peter’s School he wrote letters home every week. Roald was very attached to his mother, and he wrote several letters to her when he was at school, away from home. They were much attached to each other; because he was her only son. She hides all the letters from him. As almost every young boy Roald got hit by homesickness. The schools in those days were very strict and difficult, and Roald only looked forward to the day he was going back home.
The summer holidays were magic words to Roald. The memories used to send shivers of joy rippling over his skin. From the age of four until he was seventeen, Roald and his family went to Norway. Roald was pure Norwegian by blood and he could speak Norwegian, so he thought of Norway as his home.
A picture from Repton today
When he was twelve he went to a famous public school named Repton. At Repton there were many, (for us at least) strange rules. The prefects, called boazers, were allowed to order around the juniors and punish them if they did not obey. This caused Roald to have quite a lot of unpleasant experiences during this time; one of them was to sit on the toilets to heat the seats for the boazers. Roald proved to be a good sportsman at this time; he actually became so good at Eton-fives that he was awarded the title “Captain of Fives”. During his years at Repton, Roald also got quite interested in photography, and he even won several prizes for his works.
In the end of his last year at Repton he decided that instead of going off to a university he wanted to find a job. And surely enough when the school finished he got a job with Shell in July 1934, he had always wished to go to far away places and this job would him send to South Africa, which was very much to his liking. Here he stayed until World War II broke out and he joined the RAF as a fighter pilot.
When I first started this book I expected to find a quite ordinary biography, this was not to be the case. Already from the first chapter their were a lot of humorous moments, and this showed itself to be a biography quite out of the ordinary. The perspective is often childlike, which causes many of the scenes in the book to be quite exhilarating. Other times the perspective is more thoughtful and discursive, as with the cane beatings he became quite familiar with. This is a warming story that I recommend to other young people. The book is easy and funny to read, his childhood events are described in a fabulous way, and especially "The great mouse plot" gives you a good laugh. So go to the library and borrowed the book and I can assure you that you will have a fabulous time.