Started 2/19 Finished 2/27
I love this title . . . It reminds me of the old television show, Murder She Wrote, but this book is so much more than the events behind Disney’s Movie, Saving Mr. Banks.
Valerie Lawson took three years to write this book, and it reads like a story because she knew her character in and out. Would you believe she got to sit at P.L.’s desk a week or two after she died, and look around? OMG! Pamela’s son gave her permission.
P.L. was into philosophy, magic and mysticism so Valerie broke her biography into three parts – nymph, mother, and crone. P.L. was even OK with being a crone. Me – I’m still thinking about it.
The first time I read this book, it took two days, but this time it took me two months to reread it. That’s because I took time out to read all four Mary Poppins books, twice. Then I returned to reread and make notes on this one.
I want to write about P.L., Mary Poppins, and what I learned about both of them. Keep your eyes open – it might be another week or two before I get to write it, but believe me, it’s worth waiting for. Pamela is MORE fascinating than Disney’s version of her.
The spellbinding stories of Mary Poppins, the quintessentially English and utterly magical nanny, have been loved by generations. She flew into the lives of the unsuspecting Banks family in a children’s book that was instantly hailed as a classic, then became a household name when Julie Andrews stepped into the title role in Walt Disney’s hugely successful and equally classic film. But the Mary Poppins in the stories was not the cheery film character. She was tart and sharp, plain and vain. She was a remarkable character.
The story of Mary Poppins’ creator, as this definitive biography reveals, is equally remarkable. The fabulous English nanny was actually conceived by an Australian, Pamela Lyndon Travers, who came to London in 1924 from Queensland as a journalist. She became involved with Theosophy, traveled in the literary circles of W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot, and became a disciple of the famed spiritual guru, Gurdjieff. She famously clashed with Walt Disney over the adaptation of the Mary Poppins books into film. Travers, whom Disney accused of vanity for “thinking you know more about Mary Poppins than I do,” was as tart and opinionated as Julie Andrews’s big-screen Mary Poppins was cheery. Yet it was a love of mysticism and magic that shaped Travers’s life as well as the character of Mary Poppins. The clipped, strict, and ultimately mysterious nanny who emerged from her pen was the creation of someone who remained inscrutable and enigmatic to the end of her ninety-six years.
Valerie Lawson’s illuminating biography provides the first full look whose personal journey is as intriguing as her beloved characters.
Started 2/4 Finished 2/19
This is the 4th Mary Poppins book, but it felt like the end of the series. When I checked, Amazon carried the first four, then skipped to #7 and 8. If you want #5 and 6, you have to search for them.
IN THE PARK started with an author note, like #3. This time she wanted readers to understand that Mary couldn’t come and go forever. She’d done it three times already, and that’s a magic number in fairy tales. P.L. loved mixing them into her plots.
The chapters this time could be added to any one of her three earlier books, and the characters . . . many returned for encore adventures. If you don’t recognize them, I think you’ll enjoy meeting them now.
The Park book has six stories, but I picked two to share. The first was the Goosegirl and the Swineherd. It’s all about how every character sees themselves as someone cooler, like a prince or princess. The only one who doesn’t . . . Mary Poppins, of course.
The second has a tea party under the dandelions. That caught my attention . . . P.L. built tiny houses in Saving Mr. Banks, and said she did it as a kid. In 1952 she put them into this book.
Who else but Mary Poppins can lead the Banks children on such extraordinary adventures? Together they all meet the Goosegirl and the Swineherd, argue with talking cats on a distant planet, make the acquaintance of the folks who live under dandelions, and celebrate a birthday by dancing with their own shadows. And that’s just for starters!
Started 1/22 Finished 2/4
The more Mary Poppins books I read (I’m on #3), the more I realize how very British it is. The movie reflects more of Walt Disney than P.L. Travers. Plus, readers get to travel back to Britain of 1943, almost a century ago. This one opens with an explanation about Guy Fawkes Day.
In 1605 people were upset with King James I and Parliament. They came up with the Gunpowder Plot. It was discovered and stopped on November 5, 1605. Guy Fawkes was one of its leaders, and he was executed. Today Britain celebrates him in fireworks. King James – forgotten.
P.L. wrote her first author’s note for this book. She explained that Guy Fawkes Day stopped in 1939 – because of World War II. You can’t have fireworks when the enemy’s dropping bombs. In 1943 when Pamela published this book, she wrote that someday, it would be celebrated again, and it has been, ever since World War II ended. Chapter 1 begins on Guy Fawkes Day.
This is my favorite book, so far. Pamela pulled out all the stops. She wrote about the things she loved, like stars and folk tales. Each chapter is a gem of a story. Britain was depressed and gloomy in 1943. Guy Fawkes fireworks – banished – for four years. No end in sight. There’s nothing like a book to brighten life, for readers and writers. If you’re feeling gloomy in 2023, my suggestion – try this book.
From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed. This classic series tells the story of the world's most beloved nanny, who brings enchantment and excitement with her everywhere she goes. Featuring the charming original cover art by Mary Shepard, these new editions are sure to delight readers of all ages.
Mary Poppins reappears just in time! According to her tape measure, Jane and Michael have grown "Worse and Worse" since she went away. But the children won't have time to be naughty with all that Mary has planned for them. A visit to Mr. Twigley’s music box-filled attic, an encounter with the Marble Boy, and a ride on Miss Calico’s enchanted candy canes are all part of an average day out with everyone's favorite nanny.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!