Posted by: Corri van de Stege | April 23, 2008

Short Story- Roald Dahl’s ‘The Way up to Heaven

Roald Dahl’s The Way up to Heaven


Just when you think the weather is taking a turn for the better and that spring is at long last with us, you’re back in the rain.  I find my mood shifting as much as the weather does and in the little time I have left after the day job, I uneasily switch from short story, to book, to magazine and back again.


The Way up to Heaven by Roald Dahl is this month’s short story discussed by members of A curious singularity.  Until I picked this up I had not read anything by Roald Dahl, no hard to believe probably but really not.  And now, having read this story, I am not convinced that I will read more by him.  It’s a peculiarly Agatha Christie type approach, a what happened story, a seemingly tragic death with an uneasy edge because the couple involved are so ultimately not likeable.  My first reaction was they deserve each other and I could not really care whether or not she actually tampered with the lift so he died a slow and gruesome death, while she was away visiting their daughter and grandchildren in Europe.


Then of course you think this must be a couple living in the fifties when men were nasty to their wives and would go unpunished because their wives in fact colluded anyway, apparently totally dependent on their approval or agreement.  From that point of view Dahl’s portrayal of the couple and how they interact with each other is very nicely done, even if I suspect from a very male chauvinistic point of view.  Her idiotic obsession with needing to be on time and his callous responses, making her wait on purpose, the way they interact non-verbally but maliciously, is great writing.


Perhaps then quite a good story after all?  I managed to read it quite quickly, sitting on my sofa with a first pre-breakfast cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, and it gave me something to think about while getting on with the rest of the day, as I wondered why I did not particularly like this story.  Well, I think it is because I don’t feel much affinity with the setting, the theme or the characters, and definitely no sympathy.  Oh well, that’s it then.  Time to pick up another book, another story.




  1. Just a reminder that the Neustadt challenge is starting soon! I am giving away a copy of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez to one participant! To enter, all you have to do is post your challenge list by May 1, and leave a link to your list in the comment section of this post:

    Thanks for participating!

  2. Alisia: many thanks for reminding me – I am working on my list and will post before May 1st.

  3. I absolutely love that story. He is a brilliant writer.

  4. Lynette: I just could not quite come to grips with it perhaps.

  5. i kind of love the story since it resembles me in certain ways (mrs foster). ya… i’m quite particular when it comEs to time.

  6. where to read roald dahl short stories onl9? All of them..can anybody give me a link ? Plz paste it here.thanx in advnce.

  7. Wonderful site. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks for your effort!

  8. Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to send you an email.
    I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  9. Greetings! I’ve been reading your website for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

  10. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who was conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me lunch due to the fact that I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your blog.

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