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‘Matilda’ book review: Why don’t you read Matilda?

‘Matilda’ book review: Why don’t you read Matilda?

There are books that make you happy—books that are the equivalent of a warm, comforting hug, stories that make you believe everything will be okay despite the odds. ‘Matilda’ by Roald Dahl is that book for me. This is one of the books, and perhaps the first book, I gravitate towards when I need a little pick me up. 

When I was in school, I got my hands on a tattered copy of Matilda. I had come across it at the Awon library in Kupondole, Lalitpur. I loved it—read it on a balmy Saturday devouring the two Perk chocolate bars that I was allowed on the weekends. I renewed it during my next visit to the library because I couldn’t part with it. 

Soon enough, I bought my copy from Ekta Bookstore in Jawalakhel. At almost Rs 400, it was a pricey book during those days. I’m talking about the 90s here. My parents used to give me money to buy books, mostly the Famous Five or the Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton and the occasional Archie comics. Blyton’s books used to cost around Rs 140, with slimmer volumes priced as low as Rs 98. An Archie comic was Rs 68. So, I had to save up to buy Matilda. I bought one book at the combined cost of several. 

Over the years, I have read Matilda many times. I have bought more copies than I can recollect because I’m always giving them to people. Right now, I have two copies (with different covers) on my bookshelf. Sometimes, I just sit with the book, letting memories of a happier time wash over me. 

Matilda is about a girl named, well, Matilda. She’s a genius. By the age of three, she could do what most adults take a lifetime to learn—take care of herself. By four, her reading list had Hemingway, Dickens, and Orwell among many other prolific, highly celebrated authors. But Mr and Mrs Wormwood, Matilda’s parents, think she’s a nuisance. They think she should watch more TV and read fewer books. Her school principal, Miss Trunchbull, is another terror who despises children. But Matilda isn’t an ordinary girl. She has a few tricks up her sleeves that just might save her and her amazing teacher, Miss Honey.  

It might seem like a simple story when you first read it. But it’s also a brilliant reminder of what the human mind is capable of and how you can often turn your life around with the right attitude. Peppered with Dahl’s signature wit and Blake’s fun illustrations, Matilda keeps you entertained and allows you to forget your worries for a little while. 



Roald Dahl

Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd 

Published: 1988

Pages: 232, Paperback