Book Number Nine – Matilda by Roald Dahl.
When I first sat down and looked at the Reading Challenge, the first item my eyes were drawn to was the ‘book from your childhood’ I remember thinking instantly what book I would choose, I mulled over many options but my memory kept taking me back to many a content afternoon sat reading Matilda.
There’s something really interesting about going back to a book that you read in your younger years, especially a book that was written for children. It’s always interesting to see if you take something else from it, or begin to understand hidden messages that may have been acknowledged but not fully understood by your innocent mind. I have to say I had many moments like this reading Matilda this time round.
I found the novel still had the ability to make me laugh, and there was even something brilliantly nostalgic about the fact that a ‘twelve-inch’ TV was considered a big thing back in 1989. I realised as the book progressed how, as a child, I understood that Miss Trunchbull was a tyrant and that Matilda’s parents didn’t care, but reading it as a 29 year old, I began to see things much clearly.
Now perhaps I am reading too much into it, but Matilda’s parents seem guilty of neglect, they chose to put their own happiness ahead of her own. They provided an awful diet of microwave type meals and found that the TV was the perfect babysitter for both their children. The viewpoint that Mrs Wormwood holds about how a woman should always look well put together and marry a successful businessman smacks of a 1950’s mind set. ‘You chose books and I chose looks!’ This was an era in which women were only viewed as being a wife and a mother and not much else, education and careers were not viewed as of essential importance for women. But it is perhaps the chapter in which Miss Honey tells Matilda her story that I began to fully understand the extent of the abuse Miss Honey must have suffered at the hands of Miss Trunchbull. It is the silence and the unspoken words that seemed to speak volumes to me, and provided me with an uncomfortable feeling. One that I hadn’t really noticed or fully understood as a child.
The ending, although quite happy, was also difficult to read as an adult. As a child I remember thinking that it all turned out ok, Miss Honey recovered what was rightfully hers and Matilda was able to leave her neglectful parents and live with someone who truly loved, respected and nurtured her. But the flippant way in which her parents allow Miss Honey to take guardian ship of her made me feel quite upset. They didn’t even look back, and I found myself wondering what would become of Mike, her older brother.
That being said Roald Dahl wrote something that has stood the test of time, and I still found it thoroughly enjoyable. If anything, reading the book as an adult offered me a chance to feel nostalgic about my own childhood and how wonderful my parents were and are. I thought of the times spent with my beloved and sadly departed father, of how supportive he was of me as a little girl who loved books and literature. It reminded me how fortunate I was to have truly wonderful parents and not the mean, shallow and unsupportive parents that Matilda had. But it also opened my eyes to the dark tones of Dahls work that children, like myself, couldn’t fully comprehend or understand and further supported my belief that Dahl was one of the finest writers of his time, whose work will live on forever. Furthermore, to me, the following caption from Matilda perfectly articulates the beauty and magic of literature and I thought I would share it with you all.
‘The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English Village.’
Star Rating out of 5: 5
Happy reading my fellow bookworms.