Sunday, January 6, 2013

Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie

Started the year with a classic, a children's fantasy story that is wonderfully told by the Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie, a book I've not read in all these years. Reading Peter Pan showed me how wonderfully creative writers can be, how beautifully such stories can be told and so simply. With no excessive dramatization at all Barrie led me through a breathtaking journey of high drama, deep emotion, love and romance, courage and hope, and told it with the simplicity of a child. So matter-of-factly.

Peter Pan, captain of the lost children comes back from his island Neverland to get his shadow which gets left behind in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Darling. The boy who never grows up, the one with his milk teeth, the one whose cockiness is what gets Captain Hook's goat, the one who fights courageously and draws everyone to him, Peter Pan, finds that his shadow cannot be stuck to himself with soap and is distraught. Wendy, Mrs. Darling's daughter helps Peter by sewing the shadow on, and Peter invites her to Neverland, which is where he lives but which is also the map in a child's mind. To go there she must fly and she learns to do that so do her younger brothers John and Michael. At Neverland they encounter the lost children who so crave for a mother, the jealous fairy Tinker Bell who does not like this growing affection between Peter and Wendy, a gang of pirates led by Captain Hook who has an axe to grind with Peter, mermaids and Indians - oh, its a non-stop adventure that draws you deep into it.

But its the writing that keeps you riveted. Barrie writes so easily the scenes that depict the finest and subtlest of human emotions, the ones that normal writers struggle to express in pages, in the most casual manner without compromising on the emotion one bit. The jealousy between Tinker Bell and Wendy, the lost boys craving for a mother, Hook's vengeance against Peter and his cockiness, the romance between Wendy and Peter, the little scene when Tinker flies in to save Peter and gets a hit, her sadness at Peter being such a silly ass for not understanding her feelings for him - they are told in such simple terms with the greatest effect. Wendy's caring nature for the lost boys and Peter and the manner in which she willingly becomes their mother despite being a child herself is wonderful stuff. Barrie shows women in wonderful light, gets into the Neverland areas of children's minds and makes so many points that adults can take from this book. Could one write like this, so easily and so creatively and draw a reader into such worlds, could one use words so cleverly? I'd not have known if I had not read this book. Loved it.