Reading Challenge 2015 – A Book From Your Childhood

Book Number Nine – Matilda by Roald Dahl.

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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.’

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Star Rating out of 5: 5

Happy reading my fellow bookworms.

Georgina.

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Facebook – Book Nomination

I was recently nominated by a friend on Facebook to select the 10 Books that have ‘stayed with me’ – So I thought it would be nice to share them here too (you will notice some repeats from my previous posts and lists) but here it goes, in no particular order.

1) The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling – I know it’s not a singular book, but the whole series captivated my imagination and gave me an incredibly immersive reading experience. I felt that Hogwarts was my home and I will always love Jo for giving me, and many others like me, a truly amazing book series with some of the best characters created.

2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – This is a book I read at High School and I remember falling in love with it straight away. It was easy to imagine the surroundings, the characters and the tensions. It’s probably one of the first books I read that made me feel heartbroken at the injustices and ignorance of society.

3) Matilda by Roald Dahl – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, minus the horrible parents and scary Miss Trunchbull, I felt that Matilda was a reflection of myself when I was younger. I found more contentment and happiness in books and powered through as many novels as I could get my hands on. It warms the heart.

4) Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield – The copy I own is literally falling apart, I’ve had to cello tape the spine together and have to be very careful with the pages, as some of them are loose. I adore this book, about three very different girls, who become sisters at an early age because of various tragedies. But each one with a different life ambition to the other. This book taught me that it’s ok to be different from other girls and that no matter where you come from, you are capable of achieving great things.

5) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – A book, I sadly, only read this year and one I regrettably wish I would had read a lot sooner. It takes an unflinching look at living day-to-day life with depression, and the painful journey to recover some normality and become you again. Quite heart-breaking but incredibly poignant and well written.

6) 4.48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane – Technically this a play, but again it deals with loss and depression and was written after Sarah Kane’s partner passed away. It’s quite a harrowing read as Kane reflects on her incredibly personal experiences of dealing with grief. It’s quite fragmented as a read, but it provides an insight into subject matters that are usually pussyfooted around. A fine piece of writing and theatre.

7) Dracula by Bram Stoker – Incredibly atmospheric, well written and one of the first vampire novels I read. This is an absolute classic and is partly responsible in my life long fascination with vampires, much better than Twilight and the book to film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola is an absolute feast for Gothic Horror fans everywhere.

8) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – It is a truth universally acknowledged, that I adore this book. It was the first book by Austen that my dad gave to me. And I became absorbed in the time period, I thought, and still do think, that Elizabeth Bennet is one of the strongest female literary characters ever written. So intelligent, headstrong and outspoken. A classic book, which I will never tire of re-visiting time and time again.

9) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Not only have I always loved Christmas more than anything, but also this book has so many morals and lessons to teach. A book that can save the soul and give a whole new perspective to just how beautiful and lovely life can be, if only you step back and stop being so self involved.

10) King Lear by William Shakespeare – This tragedy is probably one of Shakespeare’s finest pieces of work and yet doesn’t seem to be as favoured as other work. Truly heart-breaking but incredibly well written and filled with plenty of drama. If the ending doesn’t have you sobbing, I don’t know what will (Psst! I’m referring to the bit where Lear carries in Cordelia) Feel free to share your Top 10 in the comments section below.

Happy reading fellow bookworms!

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