Lost Boy – Christina Henry

After my recent dive into Peter Pan’s history i was so looking forward to this.

And i can happily say it was everything, and more, than i hoped it would be.

Everything in the sense that it was up there with at the level of ‘Alice’, but instead of the violent schizo escaping from a high security mental hospital, rapidly withdrawing from her anti-psychotic meds leading to a total psychotic meltdown while running around town with a mad axeman on a murder spree, this one’s delving into the realms of psychopathy.   Of course, like ‘Alice’ you can just read it as a straight forward story and not get too into the mental health side of what’s going on, but it’s all there if you want some depth to it.   Christina is one brilliant writer.

That’s everything i hoped it would be, the more than i hoped it would be was the similarity between Peter Pan and his Island and a person and place i found myself in several years ago.   It was at times quite disturbing in how similar it all was, to really understand how the protagonist, Jamie, felt and to be able to put myself in his place, because i’d found myself in a very similar situation with a very similar person.   But as much as it was disturbing it was so because it was so incredibly cathartic and i’m really pleased to have had the experience of reading this book, so thank you Christina for that as well.

On top of all that, i certainly felt it showed respect for J.M. Barries’ work, and built on that really well giving it all a whole new dimension to consider, one only hinted at in the original works, and i definitely recommend reading those three original books by James before embarking on this one — although this can be read as stand alone if you so wish, i just feel you’d be missing out a great deal by doing so.

For now though, this brings an end to my current Peter Pan binge, but i’m sure i’ll be back to Neverland in the future, there’s just too much been written around the original story for me to ignore for long.

Christina’s Page

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Margaret Ogilvy – J.M.Barrie

Having just read ‘The Little White Bird’ and ‘Peter Pan’, it struck me that there may have been a little more to the characters than at first appears.

The character of Peter Pan was based on James’ brother, David, who died aged 13 (so never grew up), leaving the 6 year old James having to try and fill his shoes for his mother.   So it made me wonder who Hook was based on.   At first i thought Hook represented the parents but having read this book i’ve totally had a change of mind.

So my thoughts on the matter are thus… I suppose the clue is in Hook’s first name, also James.   The hand that gets cut off by Peter, a metaphor for the part of James’ childhood, and life, that was taken from him the day his brother died.   The hand is then fed to the ticking crocodile that follows Hook around wanting to consume the rest of him because it likes the taste — so is this another metaphor concerning the inevitable ticking clock of life, and that James felt the loss of his brother was continuously haunting and wanting to consume more of him and his family?

Then there’s Wendy, which having read this book cannot be based upon anyone other than Margaret Ogilvy herself.   He mentions in the book how after his brother died, other local women who lost children would come to her to talk.   Again, Wendy and the lost boys — the lost boys representing the children of the other women who went to join his brother David in heaven (Neverland).

But all that aside, this book was a heartfelt view into James’ home life and very much his relationship with his mother — who he obviously cared about immensely — and is an absolute must read for all fans of J.M. Barrie’s writing.   The book also covers James’ early literary career and what made him want to become a writer.   So a very worth while read.

So what’s next?   After 3 books in a row, i’ll be taking a literary break away from Peter Pan, Neverland and J.M. Barrie as i’ve got a load of books on ‘The Pile’ nagging to get read.   But i’ll definitely be coming back to these three topics in my reading in the not too distant future.

Some more ‘Peter Pan and Neverland’ books.

J. M. Barrie’s Page

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Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie

I’m quite confused by this story.

At 54 years old i really don’t remember ‘Peter Pan’ from my childhood days, but i admit that i had the impression from films and things that he was quite a nice character — as was Tinkerbell.   But, in this, the real story behind it all, Peter Pan isn’t really a nice character at all — and Tinkerbell certainly isn’t either.

Most of the time, Peter is nothing but a gloating little spoiled brat who always has to have his way else he spits his dummy out of his pram.   And Tinkerbell, it has to be said, is a complete little bitch.   But then you get moments in the story, in complete contrast, where the 2 of them are bestowed with all manner of wonderful virtues.

Who i did find interesting, however, was the character of James Hook, who was far more complex than the films, etc., would have us believe — frightened and out of his depth, yet somehow always managing to survive — until the end.

Apparently, the character of Peter Pan was based on Barrie’s older brother who died as a child, and therefore never grew up.   So it does make one wonder just what Barrie thought about his older brother and how he was affected by his death and his parent’s attitude to it.   He was 6 when his brother died and then sent away, from home to school, at 8.   Barrie did write a biographical piece about his mother, ‘Margaret Ogilvy’ which maybe would unearth some clues, so i’m going to read that next to find out.

At the end of it, for now at least, i’m left thinking that this is nothing but a critique by Barrie of how his parents handled his brother’s death, and also parenting in general (as seems to be quite a bit of ‘The Little White Bird’).   Although Barrie became a ward of other children, he never had any children of his own, so there is this to factor into these stories.

One of the things that also stands out for me, is how Peter chops of Hook’s hand and feeds it to the crocodile that is always ticking and haunting Hook for the rest of his life.   Is this a metaphor concerning the death of his brother taking a piece of his parents with him and their inability to move on from the tragedy for the rest of their lives, forever ticking away reminding them of their own mortality?   And Hooks view towards the children maybe adds more clues.

At the end of the day, you can read Peter Pan as a shallow, children’s, make believe, bedtime story book, or you can look deeper into what Barrie’s drive was to write these books in the first place.   It’s certainly very different to Lewis carroll’s drive to write the Alice and Wonderland books — less said about that the better, i think.   But whichever way you decide to read ‘Peter Pan’ i think you’ll certainly enjoy it.   It’s a beautifully written piece of Victorian literature that has stood the test of time and will undoubtedly stand up to a lot more time in the future.

As a bonus, this version of Peter Pan has a ‘Classic Literature, words and phrases’ dictionary at the end (which is nearly as big as the book itself).   So a great help for anyone wanting to have a good Vic Lit adventure.

Some more ‘Peter Pan and Neverland’ books.

J. M. Barrie’s Page

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The Little White Bird; or, Adventures in Kensington Gardens – J.M. Barrie

I got this book as it is the very book wherein Peter Pan makes his first appearance.   The parts of this book that include Peter Pan were published later as ‘Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens’ which is not to be confused with the full Peter pan story, which was subsequently published as ‘Peter and Wendy’ or later, just simply, ‘Peter Pan’.

I know, it gets quite confusing tracking down the origins of these Vic Lit legends, you get the same shenanigans with ‘Alice in Wonderland’.   But, it does add a little challenge to your reading, which would normally just consist of buying a book you like the look of and reading it.

Anyways, i’ve read in some reviews people saying they couldn’t understand this book and they kept on getting confused.   Obviously they didn’t factor in that this is written in beautiful Victorian prose and is not some standard contemporary novel.   I do feel that in order to fully enjoy Vic Lit then you really need to read a few books to get up to speed on the use of the language by these writers.   Most of these books were written by very well educated Victorians, and not the lower classes, and they used the language quite differently to how we use it today with words that have completely escaped the lexicon altogether.

I do humbly believe, that anyone who will take a few books to adjust to Victorian prose will find the effort is well rewarded.   Victorian prose is, to my mind at least, the most delightful and eloquent English prose i’ve ever read.

I digress, tangents become me, let’s to the story… ‘The Little White Bird’ is at it’s heart a strange, ‘lost love’ story, that gets played out and revealed through the book.   It has our ageing, bachelor, protagonist getting caught up baby sitting a child that he never actually meant to get involved with, and having had no involvement with children and their ways can only cope with them by comparing them to his St Bernard dog, and at times seems to think the St Bernard is far superior in most respects.   His adventures with the child, David, are where this book gets it’s other title ‘Adventures in Kensington Gardens’, as they spend a lot of time there.

Throughout the beautiful Victorian prose there is an undoubted light heartedness, a certain tongue in cheekness, to this book, that is both captivating and enjoyable, and using that it’s descriptiveness of the habits of Victorian upper class children and their wards within Kensington Gardens at that time is delightful — Barrie is a master wordsmith.

Oddly, although it was the reason for reading this book in the first place, i found the Peter Pan bit, and it is only a bit, to be a tiny bit annoying as i got so enthralled in the every day descriptions of Victorian life around Kensington Gardens and our protagonist’s story that i just wanted to get away from the habits of Peter Pan and the fairies and back to the habits of the humans.   At the same time, it is also something i wouldn’t have wanted left out, as it gives the full back story of Peter Pan, how he came to be and why he is like he is.

All in all, an absolute must for anyone who enjoys Victorian Literature, it really is an absolute gem.   And also an absolute must for anyone who loves Peter Pan and wants the full history of the character in the context from which he first flew.

And did i mention, this Kindle version is completely free — what’s not to like?

Some more ‘Peter Pan and Neverland’ books.

J. M. Barrie’s Page

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