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Paperback review: Roald Dahl - The Complete Short Stories Volume One


Given their starting point, it is not surprising that about a third of this collection comprises stories written during, or about, the Second World War, and they are undoubtedly the ones that make the greatest impression.

Dahl was never a sentimental writer, but he comes close to it in the opening story, “Katina”, about a little Greek girl whose family have been bombed and who is taken care of by the RAF squadron that finds her. Her fate is signposted the first time she runs out during an air-raid to shake her fists at the German bombers above, but Dahl rarely makes such an obvious gesture again in subsequent stories – nor does he bring you quite so close to tears. By the early 1950s, stories such as “My Lady love, my Dove” are already showing signs of the “surprise” element that made his Tales of the Unexpected so popular.