Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Non-Review

Usually (or always), I only talk about books that I have finished reading. Sometimes this means that I forget interesting bits that I had thought to include while reading the book, but forgot when I was actually writing the review. But, since I am just trying to process the book, it all works out.

Today, I would like to talk about a book that I am currently listening to. It's a classic children's book. Adored by many. A famous and popular Disney musical.

It's Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers.

I am about 1/3 of the way through this book (based on the fact that there are three tapes, and I have completed one), and so far, I really don't like it.

Before we get too far, I have to admit that I have seen and that I love the movie. So, maybe my expectations were way off where they should be. But with that admission in mind, I hate Mary Poppins as portrayed in the book! She is mean! For example (the children have just asked how Mary Poppins spent her day off):

"Did you see Cinderella?" said Jane.
"Huh, Cinderella? Not me." said Mary Poppins contemptuously. "Cinderella, indeed!"
"Or Robinson Crusoe?" asked Michael.
"Robinson Crusoe - Pooh!" said Mary Poppins rudely.
"Then how could you have been there? It couldn't have been our fairlyand!"
Mary Poppins gave a superior sniff.

Look at the adjectives used to describe how she's talking: contemptuously, rudely, superior. And just about every time she speaks with the children, these same (or very similar) words pop up. I guess one could argue that the children were being nosey when they asked, but it appeared (or sounded) to me like they were young kids wondering what their nanny had been up to. Not brats that deserved to be talked down to.

The Mary Poppins of the book is also very vain. She's always stopping to look at herself in the mirror or in windows as they are out walking.

Perhaps the Julie Andrews, happy-go-lucky Mary Poppins appears in the second half of the book, and this grumpy version is her trying to straighten out the Banks children (who I think are better behaved than in the movie) and once they come around she will too.

Or, perhaps for only the second time that I can remember, I prefer the movie to the book. Perhaps the old adage "the book is always better" isn't true in this case. Or perhaps, it is more an issue of having such a high opinion of the way a character is portrayed in one version makes it difficult for me to accept the fact that she behaves in a very different way in the book version.

What do you think? Have you read Mary Poppins? Does it get better?


Chain Reader said...

I didn't even like the movie, so I don't know if that means I would like the book or hate it! :-)

KT said...

My mom loves that movie, so we watched it a lot growing up. Maybe that's my problem. The book itself is actually ok - I just can't get over how grumpy she is!