I imagine a woman must’ve sat Kevin Wilson down and explained to him in excruciating detail what pregnancy, childbirth, breast-feeding and the mothering instinct feel like – the pain, the physical sensations, the associations, memories and convoluted reasoning. These descriptions in his latest novel, Perfect Little World, are not the descriptions you’d read in a medical handbook. They seem to be intensely personal and individualistic, even a bit voyeuristic. Reading how “Isabel (Izzy) Poole”, the main character, feels during those moments is like feeling it yourself, and it is really not pleasant. However, Perfect Little World is a near-perfect depiction of what happens to people when they have children, the good and the bad. Continue reading
Update on this post:
Here is an excellent analysis in the New Yorker of P.L. Travers’ youth, development as an author, and negotiations with Disney during the making of the film, Mary Poppins. (Read it here…)
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, 1934 & “Saving Mr. Banks”, 2013
Later this month, the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” will premiere in movie theatres, and considering it is about the author of the “Mary Poppins” books, some people may expect it to be a bit like the books – ostensibly sentimental, nostalgic and sweet. I’m hoping it will have some bearing on the truth. The Mary Poppins books were not altogether sweet and cuddly, and neither was P.L. Travers. Both books and author were products of their times.
How P.L. Travers fought with Disney
“Saving Mr. Banks” is directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. It is about the production of the 1964 Walt Disney Studios film version of the first “Mary Poppins” book, by the same name, and stars Emma Thompson (she of “Nanny McPhee”, talk about typecasting!) and Tom Hanks. The film centers on the life of Travers, shifting between 1907 with her childhood in Queensland, Australia, the 1961 negotiations with Walt Disney, and the subsequent making of “Mary Poppins” starring Julie Andrews as the umbrella-wielding Nanny and Dick van Dyke (he of the mock Cockney accent) as the chimney-sweep, Bert. With its romanticised view of a middle-class family in 1910 London, UK, “Mary Poppins” is classic Christmas movie and TV fodder, along with “The Sound of Music“, “Peter Pan”, “The Railway Children” and other children’s favourites. But, there has always been a largely unacknowledged darker side to all these books. They all feature a missing, or withholding, parent or caregiver.