Hide-And-Seek With Angels: The Life of J.M. Barrie

A peculiar brilliance

Several biographers before Lisa Chaney have defied Barrie's censure but each has felt the near impossibility of the task. The main problem is that we know so much and understand so little. But there is also the fact that the main sources for his life come from Barrie himself, and he was unable to write about material reality without injecting it first with fantasy.

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His "biography" of his mother, Margaret Ogilvy, for example, is, as Chaney writes, "a fabrication of a version of autobiography that Barrie found endurable". So while the challenge for most biographers is to access the interior landscape of their subject, Barrie biographers face the opposite problem: The ninth child and youngest son of a Scottish linen-weaver, Barrie's journey inwards began when his brother David, his adored mother's favourite, was killed in a childhood accident. Her mourning and Barrie's feelings of rejection seem never to have left him: A fledgling dramatist, he married an actress, Mary Ansell, who was as small as himself Barrie was 5ft tall , but the marriage seems to have been unconsummated and ended in divorce.

Mary preferred dogs to men "less complicated" and Barrie preferred young boys to Mary, particularly the boys of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies whom he met in Kensington gardens. Barrie's association with the family provides the emotional centre of Chaney's book and is in many ways the story of his life. It is too simple to describe Barrie's relationship with the five Davies boys as paedophilic or sexually predatory, but it was none the less something of a curse to the family.

He fairly besieged them, as he did anyone whom he wanted to befriend; the boys' father, Arthur, kept his distance but Sylvia accepted his offers of summer holidays and school fees. But then Barrie seemed to determined to make himself the central figure in anyone's life, he was such a forceful personality.

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Through Chaney's words, Barrie becomes a man who was perhaps hard to like but easy to love. In all of his plays, Barrie plumbed his own life, his deepest fears and hopes and dreams, for his art, and none more so than Peter Pan. It is telling that Barrie never quite finished refining it, adding to some scenes, cutting others, changing endings and characters. It was decades before it was ever set down in print in any kind of finalised form.

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In this sense, the play itself is Barrie's alter-ego, rather than the character of Peter. Aug 04, Ally rated it really liked it Shelves: It's difficult to find reliable sources, since, as this author notes, Barrie was so different and so much to so many. So much of what is written about him now is written in a psychoanalysis sort of way, and seems OBSESSED with his sexuality, or lack thereof, and its causes.

Review: Hide and Seek with Angels by Lisa Chaney | Books | The Guardian

On the other side, many are writing from a perspective of having been a friend of his, since he knew many writers of the day, or LOVED this book. On the other side, many are writing from a perspective of having been a friend of his, since he knew many writers of the day, or of his work so influencing their childhood, and banking on the early and later tragedies of his life. So it's difficult to find a reliable book offering even-handed commentary and insight into a very complicated and multifaceted man.

This is that book. Lisa Chaney very obviously has not only great respect for J. Barrie and his work, but also great affection.

Hide-and-Seek with Angels: The Life of J.M. Barrie

She is never too harsh with him, or too sentimental. She doesn't gloss over the scandal of his 'affair' with the Llewellyn-Davies family, the assumptions made at the time, or those made after, but deals with them in a frank way, without letting them engulf the rest of the book.

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Her research is staggering, and though she offers many very clever insights into the plays and the way Barrie's unique mind works, she never over-steps her role of commentator to make assumptions of her own. There are chapters when she becomes harshly critical of Barrie, as any of his friends might have done after spending years in his sometimes overbearing presence. He is to blame for some of the tragedies in his life in many ways, but in many ways, his life was also a product of timing, and fate. There were weak points in the book, particularly, though the book was written in chronological chapters, within those chapters, Chaney tended to flit back and forth years, so that one minute we are talking about the last words Barrie said before he died, and the next, we're still a good few years from his death.

She also had a tendency to repeat quotations, which gave me the weirdest sense of deja vu reading the book. But on the whole this book offers an honest look, with both a critical AND an affectionate eye, at a brilliant, enigmatic, and deeply flawed man who was very difficult to truly know in his lifetime.

Jul 31, Maggie rated it liked it. This is perhaps the second most over-written book I've ever read.

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The fame of J. See All Goodreads Deals…. Several biographers before Lisa Chaney have defied Barrie's censure but each has felt the near impossibility of the task. It is too simple to describe Barrie's relationship with the five Davies boys as paedophilic or sexually predatory, but it was none the less something of a curse to the family. When James Matthew Barrie died, in , his funeral was an occasion for national mourning. But what a creation to be remembered solely for!

Apparently, neither the editor nor anyone else told or convinced Lisa Chaney that just because she has material it doesn't necessarily need to be included in the book. Nor does she believe "less is more. When she wasn't overloading the reader with material, her writing was dry and frequently uninteresting. Perhaps her text just appears that boring because I just finished a big biography by David McCullough, who makes even the driest material fascinating.

Chaney seemed very impressed by all the literary figures that Barrie had contact with and was at pains to tell us about every one. Her literary name dropping was uncalled for and unimpressive. On the positive side I now know more about Barrie than anyone would care to know and have lots and lots of tidbits to drop into cocktail conversation should I meet anyone I think would be even moderately interested. A very indepth and well-done book about Barrie's entire life.

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It also gives background information on all significant characters in his life and the history of his surroundings, which gives the reader a very good picture of the whole scenario. The only thing I find confusing is the timeline. Lisa Chaney doesn't do a very good job of keeping the reader informed of -when- everything happens, and oftentimes we jump back and forth for a few years.

Hide-And-Seek With Angels

Mar 12, Brittany Flores rated it really liked it. What an inspiring man! Feb 23, Laura rated it liked it. Interesting look at the author of Peter Pan. Oct 12, Lexie Allen rated it really liked it. This book was a very indepth study of J.

I really enjoyed it, but I realize that it might be too dry for the average reader. LS Gryffn rated it it was amazing Jul 17, Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez rated it it was amazing Nov 08, Les rated it liked it Feb 11, Mary Thompson rated it it was amazing Aug 10, Elizabeth rated it really liked it Dec 24, Victoria Bowen rated it liked it Feb 18, Tiffany Lay rated it really liked it Feb 21, Luna Cr rated it really liked it Nov 10, Beth rated it liked it Jun 23, Jenna rated it liked it Jul 22, Betsy rated it really liked it Feb 06, Karen rated it liked it Aug 22, Shona rated it it was amazing Nov 25, Morag Gray rated it liked it Jan 25, Mie rated it really liked it Dec 19, Allison Wetzel rated it really liked it Jan 31, Jason Medici rated it really liked it Jan 29, Frances Bettsworth rated it really liked it Jul 19, Genevieve Howe rated it really liked it Jun 12, There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

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Hide-And-Seek With Angels by Lisa Chaney. When James Matthew Barrie died, in , his funeral was an occasion for national mourn. Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J. M. Barrie [Lisa Chaney] on domaine-solitude.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. What kind of man creates a boy who.

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