Wendy, Darling

Titan. Jun. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781789096811. pap. $15.95. FANTASY
For those who lived in Neverland, it was a magical place where children’s games and adventures went on forever. The Darling children left Neverland to return to London, but Wendy Darling never let go of the place. Throughout an adulthood of doctors and sanitariums, marriage and motherhood, Wendy has stood firm in her belief of Neverland and the boy who lost his shadow, who wanted a mother to love him. Darkness lies at the heart of Neverland and Wendy’s memories of it. Now Peter Pan is looking for a new Wendy—and he does not want a grown-up—so he returns to the Darling nursery, where Wendy’s daughter Jane now sleeps. Writing from both Wendy’s and Jane’s perspectives, Wise (How the Trick Is Done) depicts a brutal reality underlying the world created by J. M. Barrie: women placed into sanitoriums against their will; women under patriarchal control. (The racism in Barrie’s Peter Pan isn’t replicated in Wise’s book; neither is it directly addressed.) Against this harsh backdrop are stories of found families, love beyond romance, and the will to survive.
VERDICT Feminist twists and creeping dread abound in this intriguing retelling of Peter Pan.
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