Saturday, January 15, 2011

Peter Pan's First XI

The subtitle is the extraordinary story of J. M. Barrie's Cricket Team and the story of the Allahakbarries is a major theme of the book with authors, playwrights and journalists meeting at irregular intervals under the captaincy of Barrie to play cricket for the enjoyment of the game. The names of fellow cricketers reads as a literary who's who from the latter part of the Victorian era to the 1920s - Arthur Conan Doyle, P G Wodehouse, E W Hornung, E V Lucas and in the final game, A A Milne to name a few. Kevin Telfer intertwines the story of the Allahakbarries with the accounts of the professional lives of the participants and also attitudes to cricket during this period. The main protagonist is, of course, Barrie and the author shows how Barrie's love of games, particularly cricket, influenced his writing. The book provides a study of more relaxed attitudes to life in the Edwardian era contrasted to changes in attitudes caused by the devastation of the First World War. The novel, The Children's Book, by A S Byatt covers a similar theme.

On many levels, Peter Pan's First XI is an interesting book for its insight into cricket, literature and social history at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however the style of writing is often ponderous and I found the constant repetition of some pieces of information throughout the book distracting.

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