Remembering Reads: The One Hundred and One Dalmations

One of the more dangerous side-effects of having to organise or pack away books is rediscovering books you’d forgotten you had or which you’d misplaced and hadn’t been able to find, and starting a reread.

I can’t remember why now, but a little while ago I was trying to find Dodie Smith’s The One Hundred and One Dalmations, of which I was sure I had a copy. At least, I knew I had it, but I wasn’t sure if it was with me and my readily-available library or in “storage” at my parents’ with the rest of my books. I couldn’t find it here, so came to the conclusion I’d left it there.

Photo by Julian Kirschner on

Turns out, I was wrong.

So I reread it instead of putting books in boxes. And then discovered that it was missing the final page (or two: I can’t actually remember if this copy has ever had the final pages, at least since it’s been a part of my library).

As with a lot of people, I saw the Disney film (and the Glenn Close live-action film and its sequel) before ever I read the book on which they’re based. Although I still haven’t read Smith’s sequel, The Starlight Barking.

Naturally, there are differences between book and films. For a start, the main dogs are Pongo and Missis Pongo. Perdita is liver-spotted dalmation adopted to assist Missis in feeding the fifteen puppies, having recently lost her own litter. Perdita also stays behind to comfort their pets, the Dearlys, when Pongo and Missis go to rescue the puppies. Someone had to.

And Mr Dearly, obviously, isn’t a game designer, as in the live-action film. He’s some sort of financial wizard who helped the Government sort out the National Debt and therefore has no income tax to pay and therefore has masses of money. Just as well, given the later adoption of all the puppies.

On the whole, though, the differences aren’t such as to cause too much nit-picking, at least with the animated one. The live-action, though I do love Close’s Cruella, is rather let down by the raccoons and barrels of molasses in Suffolk.

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