As I approach the last quarter of the BBC Big Reads, it dawned on me that much of what remains are books that I’ve deliberately avoided reading. Thankfully, in amongst the Russian greats and the sci-fi tomes was one of Roald Dahl’s most beloved books – The Twits. At just 101 pages, it was something of a relief to read after The Count of Monte Cristo and Tess of the D’Urbevilles – both of which – particularly the former – are rather sizeable novels.
Having grown up reading Roald Dahl, he was very much a part of my childhood and I still vividly remember reading The Magic Finger, Fantastic Mr Fox and Matilda as a young girl. That Dahl has three entries in the BBC Top 100 certainly confirms that he is one of the nation’s best-loved authors, for both children and adults alike.
Said to have been inspired by Dahl’s hatred for beards, The Twits tells the story of Mr and Mrs Twit, who live in a windowless house, home to their pet monkeys – the Muggle-Wumps – who, along with each other, they gleefully mistreat. Despite being married, Mr and Mrs Twit share a mutual dislike for each other and spend their days coming up with new ways of winding the other up – from Mrs Twit filling a supper plate with worms to Mr Twit convincing his wife she needed stretching out by helium balloons in the hope of ridding himself of her forever.
Fed up of the abuse they suffer at the hands of their owners, the Muggle-Wumps join forces with the Roly Poly Bird to exact revenge on the unsuspecting Twits who meet their fate at the end of the tale.
Much like the rest of Dahl’s books, The Twits is a charming, moral tale that will remain a classic for years to come. I’ll end this review with my favourite quote from the book:
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”