The Landlady by Roald Dahl is the first short story I read of his that I thought was written specifically to shock the reader. I think it’s a scary story, even as an adult reader.
Of course, at the time I was utterly unfamiliar with his work outside of the children’s classics I had read, and reread, and read still again. The Witches, James And The Giant Peach, The BFG, and so many more.
I can’t remember which collection I read it in, but it was the first time that I realized that Dahl had actually written books and stories for adults.
At this point I’ve read them all, loved most, but none more so than The Landlady. An eerie, brief story that first appeared in the New Yorker in the 1950s.
Summary of The Landlady
The story is short enough that I can’t say much without spoiling things, but here are the broad strokes:
- A 17 year old named Billy arrives in the town of Bath
- In the only line that made me laugh, Billy puts an inordinate amount of faith in the value of “briskness”
- He rings the bell at the Bell and Dragon Bed and Breakfast. His knock is answered before he can take his finger off the button.
- Keep your eyes on the animals!
And that is The Landlady summary. A fantastic tale. The TV adaptation isn’t bad either, but it’s nowhere near as good as the story, in my opinion.
Here’s a link to the full text. Enjoy!