I recently read Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. You know, the original book that started it all. I bought it when I went to see the Broadway musical on tour in November in Des Moines. I really enjoyed the musical and since it's based more on the book than the movie is, I figured the book would be pretty good too. I was wrong! It was not my "cup of tea" at all (since we are talking British things here). Mary Poppins as written by her creator P.L. Travers is not a nice person. She reminded me of "Scary Mary," a funny YouTube video that I posted on my blog a few years ago. (Click on the link and watch it--you won't be disappointed!) Anyway, the official book review that I wrote is below. Needless to say, I don't think I'll be reading any of the other books P.L. Travers wrote. I much prefer Mary Poppins as done by Disney--through the lens of both my childhood and now adulthood, she was "practically perfect in every way."
I'd heard that the book is a lot darker than the movie, and it sure is! The original Mary Poppins as written by P.L. Travers is mean, impatient, vain, and unlikable. I suppose that is how children were often treated back then but it was still disturbing to read about how sharp she was with the children and with other people. The fantasy/magical elements were fun, although sometimes they were way out there, which made me wonder about what was going on in P.L. Travers' head when she wrote this. I did some research on her and didn't come away terribly impressed. The book kind of ranges from one fantasy to the next until finally Mary Poppins just leaves. It was weird. I'll take the movie version any day, which had a lot more warmth and meaning to it (which, by the way, P.L. Travers didn't approve of. Big surprise there!).