The Hundred and One Dalmatians
In honour of our new puppy, I’ve been reading Isaac, at bedtime, Dodie Smith’s ‘The Hundred and One Dalmatians’. The story had been one of my childhood favourites, as shown by my reading to Isaac from my copy printed in 1970, but I had not re-read the book in many years.
And you know what? It is an absolute delight. Beautifully written, perfectly paced, with a brave and intelligent hero (speaking as a father, it’s a blessed relief to finally read a fictional father portrayed as capable and honourable rather than the bumbling idiots we are written as today, even if the dad is a dog), all set against one of the greatest villains ever put upon the page, Cruella de Vil. In fact, Cruella is so completely wicked and without redeeming features, she may be the only evil villain sure to avoid a modern reworking casting her as a misunderstood symbol of female empowerment. No, she is simply Cruella de Vil – and all the better for that too!
So if you want a great bedtime read for you children, I suggest ‘The Hundred and One Dalmatians’ (and it’s better than the films too).