Bruce K. Hanson – The Peter Pan Chronicles

 
  Author: Bruce K. Hanson
Title: The Peter Pan Chronicles
Date read: 21 December to 26 December
Published: 1993
Publisher: Birch Lane Press
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Non-fiction
Why I picked it up: Interest in Peter Pan
Rating: 2.5 stars
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I wasn’t going to write a ‘full’ post on this book, but once I started writing it came out longer than I expected so here are some thoughts! I came across this book while doing research for a paper I was writing on Barrie last year. I didn’t pick it up at the time, since it wasn’t relevant to my paper, but I took a bit of time to read it over my holidays.
On adaptations of Peter and Wendy – I have seen the musical, the Disney film, the ballet, read the book, read the play, but somehow I have never seen the play! So, for me this was a kind-of, not-really-intriguing read about the various adaptations throughout the years with a heavy focus on the actresses playing Peter.
The format of the book is fairly repetivie, with the author recounting each production in a similar fashion. I’m not suggesting that there be a better way to write such a book, the format fits for this kind, but as I said – it gets repetitive. I also found the author’s judgements and opinions in the later half of the book intrusive and overstated. The author writes, ‘It is inconceivable that one can not hum the beautiful “Never, Never Land” or even be able to sing a line or two of “I Won’t Grow Up” after the first hearing.’ This is a vast generalization, the credibility of which can be question, as the author offers this opinon after writing that the ‘the score was generally not credited as an element for the success of the musical.’ Perhaps the author could have included his own opinions in a separate section of the book, as an afterward or something of the sort. I feel that they detracted rather than added to the book (I found his opinions annoying and excessive, frankly.)
On a lighter note, the parts of the book I enjoyed best were the little anecdotes about performing the play from the actresses. Eva Le Gallienne shares a story of how she sent one little girl, who cried ‘No!’ when the audience is asked if they believe in fairies, hiding under her seat after giving Eva gave the girl many stern glances throughout the rest of the play. These anecdotes are few, however, and seem to be buried under lengthy descriptions of the actresses’ careers beyond their roles as Peter Pan.
Overall, the book is a decent introduction to various productions of Peter Pan, but much of the writing is superfluous and made the book less interesting than I think it could have been.