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Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,140 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
"Roald Dahl is one of the few writers I know whose work can accurately be described as addictive." -- Irish Times

The sweet scents of rural life infuse this beautifully crafted collection of Roald Dahl's country stories, but there is always something unexpected lurking in the undergrowth. Whether it is taking a troublesome cow to be mated with a prime bull; dealing with a r
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 1st 1991 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1989)
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Rating details
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James Woodall
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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?
Julie - Book Hooked Blog
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.
Jeremy Lyon
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I am a sucker for twist endings, and Dahl does not disappoint here.
Shayan Kh
Dec 25, 2016 rated it liked it
2.8 stars.

Another one of Roald Dahl's adult stories collection. This one is mostly about Claud, which I believe is one of his friends. I didn't enjoy this book as much as Kiss Kiss because there isn't that much dark twist in any of these stories. I think it is because these stories were inspired by real events.
His way with words is great. There are lots of great descriptions in this book. And this is coming from someone who hates descriptions and usually doesn't pay attention to them. So eve
Rachel Richardson
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing

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
Sara Williams
Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life was the first book by Roald Dahl which wasn't aimed at children that I read. I've always meant to read Swich Bitch and a few of his other works. His children stories, of course, were always heart warming and managed to always leave a smile across my face. I remember cozing and reading Matilda and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. So when I found this old copy of a book by the mastermind Dahl, of course I picked it up.
The book consists of a few short novels Dahl wrote w
Pickle Farmer
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I read this book at work during my lunch breaks. Witty, warm, engaging. The story about the ultra creepy rat catcher and his nefarious methods was my favorite. Isn't England the best country ever? Especially in rural areas? Also, the last story seems to be either a retelling or an early version of 'Danny Champion of the World' or wotever it was called--the story of the kid and his dad and their crazy plan to capture massive amounts of pheasants.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In many of Roald Dahl's famous books, you can't help but notice the twisted sense of humor he has. Normally he covers it up with a bit of whimsy... OK, a LOT of whimsy.

These short stories have all the twisted and none of the whimsy.

The author wrote these short stories while he was living in the countryside after the war. I read that he would spend 4 hours a day writing, and the rest of the day out and about in the village and mingling with his neighbors. Many of the stories in this book are at
Jul 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of Dahl's book for adults I've read and I must say I like his childrensbooks infinitely better.

It's a collection of seven shortstories so I'll grade them induvidually as well as the overall rating. The overall rating is quite tricky. It doesn't deserve 2 stars but 1 is a bit 1.8 perhaps.

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life - 1.7 stars
Parson's Pleasure - 3 stars
The Ratcatcher - 1 star
Rummins - 1.7 stars
Mr. Hoddy - 1.9 stars
Mr. Feasey - 1 star
The Champion of the World - 2 stars
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories, 2017
A somewhat funny collection of short stories about Dahl's time living in the English country side and some friendships he made there. If you only know him from his children's books, you're in for a shock. The first story is about a cow he owned that needed to be serviced by a bull. Quite funny, but definitely not for kids! The last story about pheasant poaching was the funniest.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Weird to read Dahl for adults, describing mating cows and such. A lot of the stories seem to just end, a stylistic choice that only pays dividends on Parsons Pleasure, which was built well, while others such as Rummins you’re not even really sure what happens. Dahl is still a brilliant descriptive writer, Ratcatcher a great example even if a bit too weird.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very odd and interesting.
Barb Cencich
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
6 fun old fashioned short stories - very enjoyable
Anahit H.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Anahit by: Vika Meloyan
Shelves: cen-20-1951-2000
Ok, but some of the mysteries were pretty disgusting.
Loved this small book by Roal Dahl. Such a great collection of farm-themed stories, full of humour, with quirky and hilarious characters in it.
Enjoyed each piece. Well done Roald.
Adrianne Rosal
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soft
the first story's new to me, then the rest i've read somewhere or the other
Thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories, inspired by Dahl's time living in the countryside, There's something fundamentally nostalgic about that them all, and the last story 'The Champion of the World' was great as I found out what inspired to write my favourite book by him.
Linda Lipko
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love his books
Perry Whitford
Oct 17, 2012 rated it liked it
A collection of seven shaggy dog stories set in rural Buckinghamshire, written by Dahl from real experiences or from 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 underhand practices around unlicensed greyhound racing, and dangerous but cheap methods to make "Snakes Water" moonshine are just a few of the dodges described in these s
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kitty Jay
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dad
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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story
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
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Fay by: My daughter, Grace.
Great little insight to the post war world of Buckinghamshire. Roald Dahl was writing short stories for four hours a day and hanging out with Claude, poacher, flapper (illegal greyhound racer) and general opportunist. Result - a book of what could be pub yarns that are very entertaining .. equivalent of Australia's tall tales but with a lovely English flavour.

As another reviewer put it : Reading this is like having a pipe-smoking, chair-rocking, throat-clearing, peppermint-sucking, lip-smacking
Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life features several of Roald Dahl's short stories for mature audiences. Set in the countryside, and covering topics as various as greyhound racing, poaching, cattle breeding, and antique dealers set in the idyllic English countryside, these stories are just as dark as anything Dahl ever wrote for kids. They are more in your face about it, however. I don't Willy Wonka could have explaining his system for producing just cows and no bulls when breeding.

Given the country atmos
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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.

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