Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Love From Boy - Nonfiction Review

Love From Boy: Roald Dahl's Letters to His Mother edited by Donald Sturrock

Rating: Loved it!
Source: NetGalley

Description:  Roald Dahl penned his first letter to his mother, Sofie Magdalene, when he was just nine years old. The origins of a brilliantly funny, subversive, creative mind were evident in boarding school, and as he entered adulthood, his penchant for storytelling emerged in his missives home from Africa, where he was stationed by Shell Oil, and then the desert camps of the Royal Air Force. His skills were sharpened after a plane crash in Egypt landed him in Washington, D.C., where his cheery letters home were cover for his work in the British Secret Service, along with gossipy updates on his spontaneous rise in Hollywood and his budding New York literary career.
His mother was, in many ways, Dahl s first reader, and without her correspondence he might never have become a writer. Sofie Magdalene kept every letter her son wrote to her (sadly, her own side of the correspondence did not survive). It was she who encouraged him to tell stories and nourished his desire to fabricate, exaggerate, and entertain. In these letters, Dahl began practicing his craft, developing the dark sense of humor and fantastical imagination that would later produce his timeless tales. The author of James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and The BFG, Dahl is known by millions the world over today. But, writing candidly to the person who knew him best, Dahl was as singular a character as any he created on paper. Assembled by Dahl s authorized biographer Donald Sturrock, Love from Boy is a remarkable collection of never-before-published writing that spans four decades and chronicles the remarkable, unpredictable life of its author. While Dahl s books remain bestselling favorites for all ages, Love from Boy provides an unprecedented glimpse of the author through his own eyes a life punctuated by tragedy, creative stagnation, unexpected fame, and fantastic adventure."

Genre: Nonfiction - Letters

Why I Picked This Book:  I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last year and really enjoyed it and was planning on picking up Matilda so I was curious to get to know Dahl himself a little better.

My Impression:  The main thing I can say about this collection of letters is that it was an absolute delight!  I was in the middle of some serious stress when I picked this book up and it was soothing and wonderful and completely entertaining as well as being perfect for being read in short stretches of time.  Sturrock did a fantastic job on the editing side by not only explaining what he did but putting the letters into context both with what was going on in Dahl's life and how the period of time would later influence his books.  It was such fun to see where characters from Matilda, The BFG, and countless other books came from.  As well I enjoyed the short biography that was included at the beginning.  It gave me a sense of who Dahl was without taking over the whole book.

The letters are wonderful.  Funny and descriptive and a wonderful window into who Dahl was at the time of writing.  His relationship with his mother is so sweet.  It's clear he sees her as a friend as well as his mother as he discusses stamps and other hi-jinks at school and on up.  If you're a Roald Dahl fan or just want to be than this is a collection that just isn't to be missed.  Between the wonderful editing and the charming letters, this book was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely!  I'm listening to Matilda at the moment and am thoroughly enjoying it.  I'm looking forward to reading more books from Dahl and I think this book will really add enjoyment to future books I'm reading.

Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely!  If you enjoy Dahl's books or just enjoy biography type books this one isn't too be missed.


  1. This sounds worth checking out!

  2. Sounds like a terrific read for all Dahl fans. His books made my son (who is now in his 30s) a reader!

  3. Love the idea of this one, have enjoyed many of his books via reading to classes. I also remember reading a book too about Patricia Neal and himself in the time period they were married.

  4. I really like books like this, I've loved Roald Dahl since I was a kid but I don't know too much about him as a person. This is one being added to next year's non-fiction pile.

  5. Thanks for the heads up. This sounds brilliant!

  6. As you know, I love Dahl, and I'd had my eye on this book but I'm super keen on reading it after this review! I know a few snippets about the author beyond his writing, having read a couple of his non fiction titles, and so I was aware of frequent letters between him and his mother; it'll be pretty cool being able to see them in a book like this. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love the whole premise of this book.