Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life: The Country Stories of Roald Dahl
After WWII Roald Dahl returned to England and spent some time living with his mother in Buckinghamshire. They lived in Old Amersham for a number of years and the country stories contained in this collection are set in the Chiltern Hills, in and around that town.
The collection, with illustrations by John Lawrence, contains seven stories (most of which were first published between 1953 and 1960). The longest story (Mr Feasey) is forty-three pages long, but, long or short, all the stories are easy to read, hilariously funny and quite often nauseatingly grotesque; I made the mistake of reading the revolting tale, The Ratcatcher, while eating breakfast.
|The ratcatcher and his ferret.|
Despite their apparent simplicity and strong sense of time and place, many of the stories are timeless, masterful studies of human nature: the covetous antiques dealer in Parson's Pleasure who is ultimately vanquished by his own slick, well-practiced swindle; the fiance, who cannot hope to ever please his beloved's father, in Mr Hoddy; and the sly bookmakers at the greyhound track, in Mr Feasey, who prove that however much you think you might be pulling the wool over someone's eyes, you might just be being taken for a ride too.