Peter and Alice by John Logan

This book is the transcript of a play that follows the day Peter Lewellyn Davis and Alice Lidell met in a bookshop where they were meant to give speeches. They are respectively the characters that inspired Peter Pan and Alice Liddel. The play shows the relationship between the real people and their characters, as well as the two men who created those characters.

 

An extract I really enjoyed:

Peter: In any event, Mrs Hargreaves, I’ve been looking forward to meeting her.

Alice: No, Mr Davies, I daresay you’ve been looking forward to meeting her.

 

What I disliked:

The transition in subjects and themes was sometimes a bit clunky. The play is one long conversation, so it is understandable that the conversation moved from one subject to the next. However, through reading, it felt sometimes as though it was forced for the service of the play, unlike the natural progression of a conversation.

 

However, I will admit, in a play, such things are not as disagreeable when you see it acted out. I was not lucky enough to see the play. And I would’ve absolutely loved to see it. Especially seeing that Judy Dench played Alice Liddell Hargreaves and Ben Wishaw played Peter Lewellyn Davies.

 

What I liked:

I adored first of all the actual storyline. Discovering the life of Alice that inspired Alice and Wonderland, as well as the Peter who inspired Peter Pan. They had such a complex and dark relationship with their characters. The authors literally stole their childhood and made stories out of them. The emotions that are described are so murky and alien to behold, but it was masterfully done.

 

Through Alice Liddel Hargreaves, the subject of Charles Dodgson’s sexual attraction to young girls is underlined. But what is very strong about this scene is that nothing is explicit, nor overtly erotic. That underlines the blurred lines that surrounded that subject at that time, as well as the vision that Alice would’ve had of those moments at that time. And the uneasiness of those scenes makes them all the more powerful. Because the reader or viewer is left pondering and questioning rather than accusatory. And that is usually the position we are in as outsiders in those situations in real life. It mirrors the questioning and reluctance that a lot of us have of when it comes to the tarnishing of great historical figures, or even friends or family.

 

What I learned as an author

I learned that simple moments of life, the incidents or Stories that you can hear in the news or from others could spread into a vast story. I should’ve already known this because Madame Bovary was written that way, but Madame Bovary is such a huge classic in literature, that taking lessons from what Flaubert did never cross my mind.

However, the simplicity of the premise of this story, based on a real event of real people, reminded me that it was possible. I will stay even more aware of the many different stories that flit around me, either to create a whole new story, but also if I need a scene, a moment in my work in progress.

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