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An Eccentric Classic Tale!
on 14 January 2012
"Peter Pan" by J.M. Barrie was originally published in 1911 under the title "Peter & Wendy" and it was a novelization of Barrie's 1904 play. This story is a well loved classic that has spawned multiple films, plays, pantomimes, etc. and I am sure like me many of you who read this review will have come across the story in one form or another.
The story begins with the Darling family comprised of Mr. Darling, his wife, and their three children Wendy, John and Michael living in a London home. During the night, the children are visited by Peter Pan who is hunting for his shadow that escaped during a previous visit to the house. After Wendy reattaches the shadow Peter convinces her and her brothers to fly with him to Neverland so they can take part in his adventures. Once there, they discover a land full of pirates, Native Americans, mermaids and other wondrous things.
Most of you are probably well aware of the basic storyline as mentioned above, however the story that JM Barrie wrote feels a little bit darker and also deeper than many of the other versions out there I have seen. The darkness to me was really shown in one scene where Tinkerbell actually attempts to have Wendy killed in a fit of jealousy which is well beyond what I have seen in any other telling of the tale. In addition I also found the story to be very eccentric and slightly random, for example the Darlings actually have a dog as their children's nanny! I really had to read over some sections a few times to make sure I was correct in how I had understood it.
The real eye opener though for me was in regards to the character of Peter Pan himself. Like any child he is self-centred, cocky, immature and rather hard to like at times. However, there is also something there in regards to his imagination, fearlessness and drive to take risks and undertake new adventures that is rather interesting and enjoyable to witness. My feelings on Peter ranged between dislike and like, as well as a feeling of sorrow for the boy as I witnessed his life and antics.
One aspect of the book I really enjoyed was the utilisation of the narrator within the actual story. It feels like he is actually a character in his own right and I enjoyed following his comments and anecdotes as he tells the story. In addition, the narrator also actually talks to and tries to involve the reader in the proceedings which was a nice little novelty that I assume relates back to the actual play when audience participation would have been likely.
Overall, I did enjoy reading Peter Pan which I found to be nice, eccentric yet mournful fairy tale that shows us both the joys of youth and the reasons why we must all grow up. I think the book will appeal to children and adults on different levels, a child may enjoy the adventure and strangeness of the story whilst an adult you can understand and see the real need for people to grow up and leave their childhood behind. I would advise that if you have enjoyed the other variants of Peter Pan then you should give this book a go so that you can see some of the deeper points in the story.