Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life” as Want to Read:
Blank-133x176
Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life
 
by
Roald Dahl
Rate this book
Clear rating

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

by
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  761 ratings  ·  67 reviews
This is a new collection of Roald Dahl stories, all on a theme of country matters; they will all feature those wily characters Claud, Rummins and Bert, who appeared so memorably in Dahl's famous story, parson's pleasure. There will be seven stories in the book, including one ("Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life") that has never appeared in book form before. Roald Dahl has written a ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published 1989 by Knopf
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,494)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jim Woodall
Reading this is like having a pipe-smoking, chair-rocking, throat-clearing, peppermint-sucking, lip-smacking Grandfather tell you stories and anecdotes from his childhood or his fantasies despite your Mother expressly forbidding him to do so and frowning at you for encouraging him. But Mother's out with a friend, Father is still at the factory and neither will be home till late, by which time you'll be in bed and Grandfather will have fallen asleep by the fire. Who's going to know?
Jeremy Lyon
As much fun as Roald Dahl's children's books are, I think his talents as a writer are best showcased in his short fiction for adults. To me he's the master of scope. His stories are always exactly the right length for their subject matter. A book of his short fiction is like a well-constructed tasting menu: all the flavor, none of the bloat.

"Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" collects stories of sympathetic rogues who get bit by their own schemes. The stories in this volume are like light-hearted, rural
...more
Julie (julie37619)
Author Born in July, August, or September

I love Dahl's children's books and I looked forward to reading some of his adult short stories, but I felt like I just didn't "get" this book. There were a few parts that were funny, but overall I was just bored. I feel like maybe the problem is with me and not with Dahl, I mean seriously, it's Roald Dahl. I'll have to try some of his other adult fiction to see if I get it.
Margaret
I am a sucker for twist endings, and Dahl does not disappoint here.
Gabriel
This book was my introduction to Roald Dahl's short fiction, and what an introduction it is! Before then, I was aware (though subconsciously) of his dark wit and antagonistic humor through his children's fiction. In this selection, though, I found him to use that same wit to such ends as O. Henry twists; angry, yet lovable, characters; folk-tales of his own breed; moralizing in a tongue-in-cheek manner ... what a great collection! Included is also the short story that would later become one of h ...more
Bibliophile
This is a lovely collection of Roald Dahl's short stories that I quite enjoyed. I particularly liked the one with the pheasants, but they're all funny and witty, so I warmly recommend it to anyone who wants to relax in the company of a great book.
Rachel Richardson
I'm a loyal Dahl fan when it comes to children's literature, but this is the first of his adult lit I've read, and I was just as pleased with it as the rest. I cannot seem to get enough of Roald Dahl in my life.
Kitty Jay
Most people are familiar with Roald Dahl's children's books, but the man proves himself equally adept at writing for adults. Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life is a collection of rural short stories, most revolving around a friend, poacher, and gambler, Claud. Amongst the bits of country wisdom (pointing a heifer toward the sun will always result in a heifer calf, while pointing it away will give you a bull calf) and farcical situations arising from Claud's latest get-rich-scheme of substituting a ringer ...more
Liz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Lipko
Continuing the quest I began in 2009 to read all of Roald Dahl's books, I found this book tucked away on my library shelf.

This is a book of transition from Dahl's works for "children" to a mature set of tales for "adults."

Dahl enjoyed writing this series of seven short stories which were penned at a pleasant, leisurely time in his life when he was thirty years old and returned from WWII to the idyllic Buckinghamshire country side home of his family, As he wrote each one, he sent them off to Amer
...more
Abi
Do you like stories thrilling, surprising, and titillating? Might you enjoy a dark view of the 1950s English countryside?

Dahl delivers all of this in his disturbing and Poe-like short stories. He leaves your imagination to create the most awful conclusions to his taut set ups. The stories in this collection share a common setting and some common characters, and they are richly visual explorations of vice, consequences, and the magic of life.

(As a surprising bonus, this collection includes the a
...more
Rachel


Roald Dahl was my idol growing up as a bookworm. I loved to delve into his works, his sinister, unique twist on childhood and the perils and mysteries within. He was deemed to scary and twisted to be a children's author, but the popularity of his books can't lie! He was a unique storyteller who still stands apart from the rest 21 years after his death. Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life is a collection of country stories from his 30's, when he lived and wrote in Missenden, having adventures with his stra
...more
Perry Whitford
A collection of seven shaggy dog stories set in rural Buckinghamshire, written by Dahl from real experiences or as elaborations on tales told to him by a rustic friend called Claud, a man well versed in the petty arts of "trying to acquire something by stealth without paying for it".

World championship standard pheasant poaching, the numerous nefarious practices around unlicensed greyhound racing and dangerous but cheap methods to make "Snakes Water" moonshine are just a few of the dodges describ
...more
Sarah
Shouted out at me from a library shelf, did this book. Have been reading more short stories than usual this year and fancied some Dahl. Thought that it might enhance my enjoyment of living in the countryside too. Can't say that that really happened. Dahl was writing about such a different era - post war austerity. The first tale wasn't as strange or disturbing as I'd hoped for, and the style of the writing reminded me of Agatha Christie and the addiction to her murder mysteries that was fed by t ...more
Danielle
A review on the back of this book said that Dahl's writing could accurately be described as "addictive." I would say the opposite. He's charming and refreshing in small quantities, but I find if I don't break up his stories with other clearer, meatier writing, I start to get a headache.
I love his characters, especially in this book about the endearing oddballs encountered in country life, but he does have the frustrating habit of leaving off his stories in a bit of a muddle. Things just don't d
...more
Philia
I felt like a big kid all over again reading Dahl's short stories, except with non children themes and with cartoon illustration as well.

I enjoy the distinction between the blacks and the whites, a nice escape from adults' complex grey zone. I must say that I was reading the stories from a Child's heart of an Adult, I momentarily felt shocked reading the cruel treatment of the animals. My ex-next door neighbor who's a greyhound rescuer would be very upset reading the chapter on the ill-treatmen
...more
Elizabeth McDonald
Although I have previously enjoyed Dahl's short stories for adults (my first encounter being my sixth-grade English teacher reading "The Landlady" aloud in class and creeping us all out), I just didn't get into most of these stories. They all focus on the same set of rural characters, but I couldn't identify with these characters very much at all. Dahl uses a number of farming and dog-racing terms that I was unfamiliar with, which meant that I was kind of lost as to the plot at times, too. The f ...more
Virginia Bonnett
As with his children's books (which I adore), Dahl is humorous, entertaining, and gross in this book he wrote for adults. I really enjoyed how each short story was about the same little village and cast of characters. It was a quick read and I enjoyed it.
Kaethe
If I say that his stories are better than his children's books, will you understand that I really love his children's books, too? But his stories for adults are extra creepy, weird, disturbing, funny.
Emilie
Good, old fashioned storytelling. There's always a gratifying twist at the end and Dahl gets to the point where others would waste paragraphs on meaningless description (I am distracting myself from some Balzac....).
Deborah
Strange compilation of stories from when the author lived in rural England. From how he mated his cow, to poaching pheasants. Not really my cup of tea.
Emily Vander Ark
I love everything else I've ever read by Dahl - but these adult stories, while clever, are a bit too gruesome for my delicate sensibilities.
Sylvia
Highly entertaining, giggle riot, exaggerated tales based on Dahl's experiences with country life in England.
Jack Kim
little hard to understand whole story.
came to know it's for adult later.
Chris
I must have read each of Dahl's books four or five times each as a kid, but I haven't experienced his adult stories until now. This collection, featuring unsavory gamblers and poachers and set in the countryside -- easily matches the author's more well-known novels in quality. Filled with characters that cross over from one story to the next and often featuring twist endings, they display Dahl's supreme talent beautifully. The final story in this collection is the forerunner to Danny, The Champi ...more
Madhav
Weird,crippy funny stories.
Peter Thornton
Enjoyable short stories based on country characters around Great Missenden. Final story is the fore-runner for his novel Danny Champion of the World (one of my all time favourite books)
Virginia Jacobs
Dahl mentions in the preface of this book that it's based on experiences he had with the real-life Claud. Basically, this book is about a series of get-rich-quick mishaps that Claud attempts, frequently with the assistance of a man named Gordan (presumably, Dahl). This book is entertaining and amusingly written, although the stories are not in chronological order, so it seems they jump around a little bit.
Benedict Reid
Roald Dahl still trying to write for adults, but with the general theme being the distasteful habits of the working class in small english villages. The back cover said "Dahl's urbane and sophisticated wit is directed at the unfathombale mysteries and eccentricities of rural life", but it's more accurate to say they're stories which allow the reader to feel superior to the those uneducated rural workers.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 49 50 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Red-Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes
  • The Garden of Unearthly Delights
  • The Chronicles of Clovis
  • Why I Live at the P.O. and Other Stories (Penguin 60s)
  • Jonathan Wild
  • Romeo and 2 Juliets (Sweet Valley Twins #84)
  • Advanced Banter: The Qi Book of Quotations
  • Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age
  • Through a Tangled Wood
  • Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form
  • Goosebumps Monster Edition #1 (Goosebumps, #1, #2, #4)
  • Who's Irish?: Stories
  • Chicken Soup for the Cancer Survivor's Soul: 101 Healing Stories about Those Who Have Survived Cancer
  • Alentejo Blue
  • The Portable Graham Greene
  • Mike at Wrykyn
  • Novels, 1944-1953
  • Xingu
4273
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter of Norwegian descent, who rose to prominence in the 1940's with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world's bestselling authors.

Dahl's first published work, inspired by a meeting with C. S. Forester, was Shot Down Over Libya. Today the story is published as "A Piece of Cake". The story, about his wartime a
...more
More about Roald Dahl...
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket, #1) Matilda James and the Giant Peach The BFG The Witches

Share This Book