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Wendy [Paperback]

Karen Wallace
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Oct 2004
Wendy Darling endures the restricted life of a child born to a well-to-do Edwardian family. Confined to the nursery upstairs, she must protect her brothers from the vicious tricks of their cruel nanny. The glamour of her parents' parties downstairs calls to her and, risking punishment, she sneaks out at night to spy on grown-up life through the banisters. What she sees will change her life forever. The world beyond the nursery is haunted by secrets and passions that Wendy just can't fathom. Driven by her precocious imagination, Wendy sets out on a series of adventures to put the world about her to rights. This book is not authorised by or affiliated with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, the owner of the copyright in J M Barrie's Peter Pan.


Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's; New edition edition (4 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689837488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689837487
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,194,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A stunningly good idea, well executed" -- The Observer

"Wonderful… a sparkling, delightful read." -- Waterstone's Book Quarterly --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Canadian-born Karen Wallace is the author of over 70 books for children, including the award-winning non-fiction title THINK OF AN EEL & RASPBERRIES ON THE YANGTZE. She was born in the backwoods of Quebec and spent her childhood messing about on the river. She now lives in Herefordshire, with her husband, two sons and a large cat called Cougar.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The author breathes new life into a character most of us are already familiar with, but there is no way for Wendy Darling to fly out of the nursery window in this story. When she can escape the watchful eyes of the monstrous Nanny Holborn, Wendy loves hunting bugs in the garden or chatting with Mrs Jenkins in the kitchen, but she is trapped inside a glittering cage of social restrictions. The only other person who sees through the unfairness is Esther Cunningham, who is engaged in the battle for women's rights and attends suffragette rallies. Wendy's story offers a brilliant child's eye view of adult folly and the frightening hypocrisy of high society in early twentieth century England.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow ! A must.... 16 Nov 2003
By Jonny
Format:Paperback
I loved this book. I don't normally read fiction but always enjoyed the Peter Pan story as a child. I must admit was a little dubious when i heard this book was a prequel to the beloved yarn but my apprehensions vanished almost immediately when i started reading.
The book follows Wendy (Peter Pan's girlfried to be) as a young child growing up in early 20 th century London where she lives with her old-fashioned parents, long-suffered younger syblings, and a deliciously nasty nanny. Her childish innocence and vivid, magical imagination gain darker undertones when she discovers her father's infidelities with the mean Lady Cunningham - she catches them stealing kisses in the hall. Wendy's world gets turned on its head and she sets out to put the adults to rights. But is she ready to tackle the secrets, conspiracies, and half truths of the grown ups or will her over-active child's imagination lead her into more trouble than she had bargained for? More importantly what happens when magic gets involved?
I guess you'll have to read it. For a non-fiction lover like me I might add that the historical observation in this book is exquisite. All in all money well spent.
p.s. a note to adults and children alike... you can all read and enjoy this book! I was suprised to find it only in the children's section and not the grown up's one as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Learning to fly 9 July 2012
Format:Paperback
Wendy is elder sister to John and Michael, and all three live under a reign of terror held by their nanny, in Edwardian England. It's a fascinating portrait of society life, where the children have very little contact with their parents who are good people at heart, but Mrs Darling is quite flighty, and Mr Darling has a tendency to drink too much. A series of family scandals means that the horrible nanny is dismissed, and the children escape to the countryside for a few weeks to stay with family - their Never-Never Land, you might call it. This is the safe place where nothing can hurt them, and Wendy has the additional refuge of Thomas, the Peter Pan figure who will never grow up. There are dangers here, too, though, as Wendy sees something that challenges her perceptions of the haven that is Rosegrove.

This is a beautifully told, well-paced historical novel, as well as an intriguing psychological interpretation of Peter Pan. I thought the suffragist movement going on in the background was a little heavy-handed and determinedly 'educational' but this was but a small quibble in an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable read. Like `The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time' by Mark Haddon, you wouldn't know this novel was aimed at teenagers unless you were told as much.

Ultimately, the story is about growing up, and all the things that a child does not fully understand, but must come to terms with. You'll be pleased to know, though, that the children do learn to fly (if only metaphorically).
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment 19 Nov 2006
By Laura
Format:Paperback
I bought this book expecting it to be based slightly on Peter Pan, but it was a completely different story altogether. It was incredibly boring, so much so that I couldn't finish it. I would not reccomend this book, there is no storyline and nothing to keep you reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All too morbidly real. .. 17 May 2005
By Kotori - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Peter Pan has turned into a Cinderella story.

Wendy's world begins to fall apart - or perhaps it has never been that nice, as her nanny is a crocodile and Mother never notices her children are unhappy.

Forced to play with the awful children next door whilst the neighbour conducts and affair with Mr Darling which Wendy & John unhappily witness, London is the world the Darling children would love to escape.

Mr Darling slides into debt and Mrs Darling is absorbed in her own misery - the Princess who never grew up, whilst Mr Darling is himself a big child, unable to face facts and denying his part in the unhappy events which unravel.

All too morbidly real, this isn't a story for children, with it's tales of affairs, bankruptcy and indifferent adults.

I was alarmed to recall it was lodged with the junior books on library shelves, because I would recommend 15+ to read this book.

Nana Darling, the loveable dog is the only unchallenged character.

Mrs Darling is viewed as a selfish Tinkerbell, whilst Peter Pan is the addled Thomas, living in the country and madly painting when Wendy visits.

Mildly disturbing, it's Peter Pan treated as an everyday sad world - the magic is all imagined and although the Darling children are rather nice, one ought not imagine a novel of magic and childlike wonder, less it is the wonder dissipating!

Wendy is forced to play mother to them all, as in her close concentration on the world about her events keep intruding on her reality.

Interestingly, the cover it's been published with for the Australian, and also I suspect the British, audience, is far more evocative for the Peter Pan story than the Alice through the Looking Glass bookcover advertised herein.

Interesting and indeed as it claims on the cover 'A bold and unforgettable novel inspired by the world of Peter Pan'.

It IS bold and unforgetable, and also poignant, messy and scary!

Nicely told

kotori 2005
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only the names are the same... 5 Jan 2004
By Nonesuch Explorers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I suppose this was meant to be a contribution to the current wave of "dark side of Peter Pan" fanfics, similar to "Lost Girls". It's fairly well written, has good period settings and vocabulary, and moves along nicely. However, Wallace has chosen to make the Darlings a dysfunctional family; she's exaggerated certain of the parents' character traits far beyond what Barrie intended. She also postulates a variety of precedental incidents which are, I suppose, meant to explain Wendy's later readiness to fly away with Peter Pan; a cruel nanny, a criminally irresponsible father, a suggestion of insanity in the family.
In other words, it's the old escapism chestnut; a desire to journey into magical worlds can't possibly just be a wish to see new things or to have adventures, it has to be because there is some condition in your everyday life that is hurting you intolerably. A major theme in Barrie's Peter Pan is that children can have perfectly happy home lives and still wish to fly away, just to see what's out there, confident in the belief that they can always come home, that Mother will leave a window open. Wallace completely ignores this concept.
It would have been better had the author used original characters. The family itself is realistic enough; some parents do (and did at that time) drink a lot, have affairs, spend money irresponsibly, look the other way when their children are being abused. Child abuse and neglect were as common in that period as they are today, particularly emotional neglect in the upper classes. Children need to read about other children who have been brutalised in various ways; it tells them they're not alone. But this is not Barrie's family. Sure, the 'real' Mr. and Mrs. Darling were a bit childish, but they were never cruel.
One of the most common problems with fan fiction is character consistency. Wallace has an interesting story, but she seems to have forgotten that in writing about established characters, it works best if you have them behave at least reasonably close to source. Pick up Barrie's "Peter Pan" after reading this, and try to connect the Darlings as he wrote them with the family Wallace portrays. Wallace tells a fairly good story of abuse, betrayal, courage and emotional survival; she should have done so without misusing one of the most beloved families in cihldren's literature.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a magical story at all, but a story about a family in crisis 21 Jan 2006
By locally grown - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I began the book expecting Peter Pan to make an appearance in the book somehow, perhaps in the playacting of the Darling children. Halfway through the book I forgot about him completely. By the end of the book, I was creating parallels between the characters in "Wendy" and the characters in "Peter Pan", this book is really a story about a family struggling to love each other and forgive each other's weaknesses.

It's a story that young adults can relate to more than young children (even though it is a very easy read). The relationships are complex and require some amount of experience to understand. The breakdown of the Darling's marriage is something most pre-teens and teens can relate to their own lives. The fighting, blaming, and long silences in the Darling house are only too evocative of a family going through divorce. Mr. Darling lashes out at his children as well as his wife when his world begins to crumble through his own immaturity and selfish decision-making.

The true 'villain' in the novel is Nanny Holburn, who openly despises the children and forces them to undergo cruel punishments 'for their own good'. And yet, the children, while living in fear, do not feel that they can approach their parents about the problem. The rest of the house staff are very kind to the children, but their parents remain distant.

The most obvious parallel in this story is Thomas, Wendy's best friend who lives on her uncle's estate in the country. Thomas is not very clearly explained, but he (though 15) will always be childlike in his heart. Thomas would be Peter Pan, in his permanent childhood, except instead of leading Wendy to another land, she leads him to a more soothing state of mind. However, she does find sanctuary with Thomas, so it is not a bad parallel. I respect the author for not trying to create characters that have a distinct resemblance to the cast of characters from Peter Pan. It leaves you wondering - and makes the story more real.

The story does explain why, when given the opportunity, Wendy and the boys would fly out their nursery window after a boy who promises 'Neverland'. They have little reason to trust the adults in their life, and a poor example of what adult life is like.

The ending is relatively happy, however, and the Darlings seem to be on a path to resolving their domestic problems. Perhaps Wendy would not fly out the window at the end of the story, but would stay to see how things turn out.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine historical novel for young readers 2 Feb 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Karen Wallace's Wendy is a brilliantly-written book and an excellent read. In the best Shakespearean tradition, the author grounds her novel in an older, familiar work - J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan - but develops the basic elements of that novel in an original way, and explores some of its underlying concerns on another level altogether.
Most of us will remember from our own childhood that children are aware of far more than adults give them credit for. This is certainly the case in Wendy. As the title suggests, the world of Wendy is seen largely through Wendy's eyes. Anyone who has ever known - or for that matter been - a bright and sensitive young girl will recognize Wendy: perceptive, thoughtful, somewhat lonely. Her attachment to Nana (her dog and confidante), her attempt to make sense of seemingly bizarre adult behaviour, her strong feelings of responsibility for her younger siblings, her sense of what is right and wrong - all make her a realistic and appealing character to whom the reader becomes quite attached.
Childhood can, of course, be a difficult time, and the dark side of Edwardian family life appears in this novel. In the best fictional tradition of the young person finding his or her way in the world, Wendy and her brothers rely on themselves and on each other, as well as on various helpful and caring adults, to cope with their sometimes difficult life.
The novel is also very much about a young girl's growing awareness of the future choices awaiting her as a woman. These choices emerge clearly as the story evolves. Questions about what women can do and who women can be - raised naturally as an integral part of the narrative - are still relevant today for young girls.
The Peter Pan motif is brilliantly and lovingly woven into the novel in the person of a young artist, incapable of growing up, and fascinated by flying.
Wendy is hard to put down. The historical detail has been rendered meticulously, so that we really feel that we are in the rooms of the Darlings' house, in the streets of London, or in the English countryside, as the case may be. Not only is attention paid to the tiniest domestic details, but to the larger trends and movements of the day. The book shows us various attitudes to all kinds of contemporary issues, from the advent of the automobile to the suffragist movement.
I highly recommend Wendy for young readers. Adults will enjoy it as well. It is a pleasure to read such a carefully researched and written book. Wendy transports the reader into another era. It is a touching, engrossing, and both emotionally and intellectually satisfying book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusion 23 Sep 2004
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After reading 'Wendy' I was a little confused. I thought it was good, but to me, I didn't think it was worth reading. 'Peter Pan' is supposed to be a children's book, and Karen Wallace writes 'Wendy' for young adults. In Wendy, we experience all the emotional problems Miss Wendy goes throw. She sees something that changes her life forever, which is perhaps why she chose to visit Peter in Neverland. Overall, it provided some background information about life at the Darling household that could only be supplied to the mind by imagination or this book.
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