Peter Pan and Wendy
30 September 2013 5 Comments
Author: J.M. Barrie.
Summary: When Peter Pan flies in through the Darling children’s nursery window in search of his shadow, the scene is set for a classic tale that has captured the imagination of children and adults for one hundred years.
Wendy and her two brothers join Peter on a series of exciting adventures with the inhabitants of the magical island of Neverland: the Lost Boys, to whom Wendy becomes ‘mother’, the mischievous fairy Tinker Bell, the Redskins, the Pirates on the Jolly Roger – and their notorious leader, Captain Hook, whose destiny lies in the hands of a crowing boy and a ticking crocodile.
Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5
Review: Given that J.M. Barrie popularised the use of my own name with this book, it may be surprising to know i had never read it before. I haven’t seen the Disney film, either. Knowing i had never read Peter Pan, a friend of mine gave me this centenary edition as a gift a few years ago.
Overall, i loved it. But i want to start with what i didn’t like about it; the reasons i couldn’t give it a fifth star. Basically, the representation of gender and assigned gender roles in this book are bloody horrific. I can only not get more hung up on this because the book was written in 1911 and the notion of feminism was still in its infancy. But still, it irked me. Wendy going to Neverland to be the boys’ ‘mother’. All the girls having a crush on Peter and hating each other. It made me cringe with anger.
At first, the book made me frown and smile at the same time. It’s rather unique and took a while to get my head around. The narrative style reminded me a lot of The Hobbit—it was distinctly third person omniscient, and i loved the playful way that was written. What made me frown, initially, was how ordinary the book made such obviously extraordinary things. The fantasy aspects of the book were not made to seem fantastical—they simply were.
Mothers can reach into their children’s minds at night and sweep away any bad thoughts, leaving only good ones behind. Everyone dreams about Neverland when they’re a child. A dog as a nanny is nothing overly peculiar. Fairies are born when a baby first laughs. The stars have been punished, for something they don’t remember, to forever look down upon us. And it’s all thrown in and mentioned as if it’s perfectly normal, which is quite delightful.
I liked that the narrator is fair and unbiased. He acknowledges the good and the bad in everyone. Peter is a joyful soul always looking for his next adventure, but he is also a cocky little git who cares nothing for other people’s feelings. Hook is an angry pirate who takes joy in theft and murder, but he also has a heart, real fears and his own set of morals.
When the book reaches Neverland i was completely caught up the story and was barely worrying about the narrative; i was too busy enjoying the brief tales of the creatures, people and adventures on the island.
This edition also includes illustrations by Robert Ingpen which are, in a word, beautiful. They aren’t just there to fill pages, they really help bring the story to life and i spent just as long on the illustrated pages as i did on a page of text.
To be honest, i didn’t expect to like this book as much as i did, but i’m very pleased i liked it so much. The end made me sad, and happy.