Letters from a Literary Legend

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Letters are personal by nature, but they make for fascinating reading. You’re suddenly privy to all of the letter-writer’s (secret) thoughts. In Letters From Boy: Roald Dahl’s Letters to his Mother edited by Donald Sturrock, we are presented with Roald Dahl’s life as depicted in his history of letters home to his mother.

First starting when Dahl went to boarding school at the age of nine, he wrote his mother letters on a fairly regular basis. These letters told her about his life, but they weren’t a simple recounting of what was going on; instead, he infused his writing, even from an early age, with his imagination and personality such that it jumped from the page. Spanning from his youth to a mature adult, when his mother passed away, Dahl’s letters evolve and demonstrate his growth as a creative thinker and storyteller, as well as providing a look into the various turns his life took before he became the literary genius that graced many childhoods (mine very much included!).

The chronological compilation of Dahl’s letters home, as well as the interspersed photographs offer a compelling, humanistic view into the private life of the beloved author to the tales seminal to many of our childhoods. The elegant and brutal honesty coupled with the humor in the written words of these letters makes me yearn for days when we communicated in such a precious fashion instead of emails and texts, which just feel far less personal.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

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