The hundred and one Dalmatians

The Hundred and One Dalmatians - Dodie Smith I had forgotten how cute and charming this book was. I love the movie, but I love parts of the book too, especially the stuff that didn't make it into the movie, like the real Perdita and her husband, the church the puppies visit, the two Nannies, and the boy with the little blue cart. The only thing that really annoyed me was the sexism. Yes, dog sexism. Missis, the mother dog in the book, is repeatedly presented as charming and pretty, but dumb. She can't tell her left from her right, even after repeated explanations, and the male dogs are like "HA HA! WOMENZ ARE SO DUMB, AMIRITE?? NOT LIKE US BROS LOL"

However, there is the little bit in there about Nanny Butler who decides to become a real butler, NOT a parlourmaid thankyouverymuch, and she refuses to wear a skirt for the job, instead wearing pinstriped trousers and a frilly apron. Heh. So, women are allowed to have unconventional roles in this book, but it still annoys me that Missis is so dumb.

Cruella is way more fleshed-out in the book. She's married to a furrier, paints the interior of all her rooms red, and sleeps between ermine sheets. She invites the Dearlys over for dinner and everything she makes is a weird color (blue, black, etc.), and tastes strongly of pepper. This is supposed to be because she's a "devil" and she likes things "hot," I suppose. She also has a white cat whose kittens she routinely drowns (NOOOO NOT THE KITTENS D: ), and the cat is dying to get revenge on her, which she does in the end.

One thing absent from the novel but present in the film is the class issue. In the movie, Roger is a poor songwriter and Cruella laughs at the idea that his songs could ever make money. Ironically, of course, the song that becomes a hit is "Cruella De Vil," and then he and Anita have enough money to build their Dalmatian Plantation. (A phrase which, regrettably, is also absent from the novel.)

In the book, however, Mr. Dearly is a "financial wizard" who helps the government get out of debt several times, and in return they basically give him heaps of money forever. Cruella is obviously rich, or at least she likes to look rich, but the Dearlys aren't by any means poor, and they have no problem purchasing Hell Hall at the end of the book and turning it into a beautiful white country home for their Dynasty of Dalmatians. (And the white cat.)

Overall a fun book that goes into way more detail than the movie does, and it's worth reading just for that, if you're a fan of the movie. (The 1961 animated version, obviously, not the travesty that is the 1996 live-action version.) It's got a charming sense of dramatic irony, in which things we know all about are presented from the clueless dogs' perspective, which is always fun. Also, it tells you what happens to Cruella after she loses her beautiful fur coats...

ETA: I forgot to mention the adorable illustrations, and the fact that one of the chapter titles is "The Hundred and Oneth Dalmatian," which always makes me smile.