Mary McCoy's Reviews > Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl

Storyteller by Donald Sturrock
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Mar 03, 2011

really liked it
Read from February 13 to March 03, 2011

When I was 10, and a huge fan of books like The BFG and The Witches, my mother sat me down and explained, in rather age-inappropriate detail, the saga of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal, her near-death experience, how he'd nursed her back to health, and then had the nerve to cheat on her and leave her for a younger woman.

At the time, I had no idea why my mother was following the love life of my favorite children's author. But then I read Sturrock's biography, and learned about the carefully choreographed press campaign that Dahl waged during Pat's rehabilitation, and the dozens of articles that portrayed them as the perfect family. In reality, their marriage had been rocky from the start, and the split not such a surprise. But to hear about it in the Ladies Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post, theirs was a love affair for the ages, and I can see how the reading public (mom included) might have been inclined to feel a little betrayed.

In the book, Sturrock goes into tremendous, though highly entertaining, detail about Dahl's early life, his family, his relationships with women, and even the Dahl family obsession with healthy bowel function. However, even with all this detail, I wish that Sturrock had spent a bit more time on the work itself. While the early short fiction gets ample treatment, most of Dahl's children's books are glossed over fairly quickly, while Dahl's many squabbles with his publishers are enumerated in full.

Still, the book is a must-read for Dahl fans and completists like me. Those who have already read Jennet Conant's The Irregulars will not be disappointed by redundant content either. Sturrock's take on Dahl's time in the U.S. is shaped very differently, and though I expected to skim these chapters, I hung on every word.
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04/25 marked as: read

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