Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Continuing on the theme of books I should have already read, here is Peter Pan, which I have seen in Mary Martin movie form as well as on stage, once, though I barely remember, and of course I have seen Johnny Depp as Barrie in Finding Neverland.

The book, like The Princess Bride, plays out pretty much exactly like the movie I remember (though I’ll grant that I haven’t seen the movie in ten years or more), with Peter Pan losing his shadow at the Darlings’ house, returning to fetch it, and then teaching Wendy, John, and Peter to fly off to Neverland. There they have some adventures with Peter and the infamous Captain Hook, and then eventually they return home to grow up, unlike Peter.

And it’s so much more depressing than I remember! Part of this is the narrative around the action in the book, which describes for us poor readers how awful the Darling parents feel about the loss of their children, who are gone for quite a while, with Mr. Darling even taking to sleeping in Nana’s kennel. It also describes often exactly how children feel about their parents, which wounds me as a potential parent. Clearly I should not have children.

The other depressing part is the same thing that drives Toy Story 3, which I cried over recently — growing up. The Darlings return home to grow up, and they do, and they become fairly boring and forget how to fly and think that perhaps Peter wasn’t real after all. And Peter mostly forgets them, too, returning only sporadically to make good on Wendy’s promise of a yearly visit. I’m getting sad just thinking about it!

But it is otherwise delightful, with Indians and pirates and an alligator with a clock in his tummy, and so I am glad to have gotten around to the book. But I think I’ll stick with Mary Martin for the foreseeable future!

Recommendation: Definitely a good read, but not quite a good bedtime story.

Rating: 8/10
(A to Z Challenge)

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