Roald Dahl

Pegasus. Jan. 2023. 272p. Tr $27.95. ISBN 9781639363322.
The chronicler of Beatrix Potter and Kenneth Grahame turns to Roald Dahl (1916–1990) in his latest literary biography. Dennison presents the often divisive author as a man full of contradictions who believed the main purpose of his children’s books is to turn kids into readers and not necessarily teach them a lesson. The book follows his journey as an ace pilot, husband, and father. Eventually, Dahl gains a reputation for his writing and turns to children’s books in 1961 with the publication of James and the Giant Peach. Dennison is not shy about discussing Dahl’s marital issues and reputation as a bully. The biographer is squarely on Dahl’s side though, and some readers might be turned off by his sometimes gush-filled treatment of the subject. Also, Dennison briefly mentions some of the critiques about Dahl’s anti-Semitism, thoughts on Israel, and his characterization of the Oompa-Loompas without judgment, which may doesn’t sit well.
VERDICT With the resurgence of Matilda’s popularity, this biography will most likely find a home on most biography shelves for book-loving adults.

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