The Diddakoi | Chapter 5 of 15

Author: Rumer Godden | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1037 Views | Add a Review

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THE DIDDAKOI

Before writing The Diddakoi Rumer Godden did a great deal of reading and research; in all her books, whether about India, or ballet, or dolls, or Pekinese dogs (her favourites), she cared very much about getting the facts right. One important fact concerned the title, and the word ‘Diddakoi’ is explained very early on: it describes someone who is half gipsy and half of Irish background, like Kizzy, the central character. Kizzy is a passionate, high-spirited girl, who fights against injustice, cruelty and unfairness, the sort of character Rumer Godden frequently wrote about in her stories; she would say they were very like herself.

Rumer Godden was born in Sussex, in 1907, the second of four daughters, and she lived for much of her childhood in India, in Narayanganj, East Bengal (now Pakistan), where her father worked for the Navigation Steamer Company. From an early age she wrote stories and poems, hiding them in the hollow of the large cork tree outside the family house.

She thought of herself as ‘different . . . the odd one out . . . the outsider’, and her behaviour at home, and later when sent to school in England, was difficult. She was in her teens when a strict but understanding teacher guided her towards her future as a writer. Perhaps this teacher was the inspiration behind the sympathetic adult characters in her stories about children. In The Diddakoi, especially, there are Olivia Brooke, Admiral Twiss and his manservant, Peters.

The Diddakoi was first published in l972. Rumer Godden was surprised when a message came telling her it had won the Children’s Book category of the Whitbread Prize for that year. One of the judges, Kingsley Amis, said he wished some adult books were as well written.

I first read it that year with my daughter who was ten. This year I reread it with her daughter, my granddaughter, growing sad all over again at the death of Kizzy’s grandmother, and angry at her bullying by the village children, led by the spoilt little horror, Prudence Cuthbert . . . aided by her appalling mother, who sat on committees, and interfered. It is one of the most memorable books, with changing scenes and situations, lively dialogue, tension and fear, and in the bringing together of a group of people who need each other.

I was privileged to know Rumer Godden and to talk to her about her books, her life and her writing, and to hear, from her, how deeply she cared for her work of storytelling. She died in l998, and I think she would have been pleased with this new edition of The Diddakoi, published to celebrate her centenary.

Anne Harvey

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Asanda
This book is AMAZING OMG I LOVE IT!TAKE THIOS REVIEW FROM A PERSON WHO IS 12 YEARS OLD AND HAS took some TIME FOR THiS AMAZING
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