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Here endeth the first book of Mary [Apr. 30th, 2014|09:34 pm]
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I haven't forgotten the Great Mary Poppins re-read, though what remains feels like tidying up. I had reached the last chapter of Mary Poppins, in which Mary Poppins, having promised to stay 'until the wind changes' leaves, on the first day of spring. Where her arrival was ambiguous, blown in by the wind with a force which is extreme, but still possibly not magical, her departure cannot be interpreted as natural: again it is the wind which carries her away, tugging at her umbrella, but the children watch her rise, stage by stage, above the trees and the houses, and so do the readers, because the scene is illustrated.

P.L. Travers cannot have been certain, at this point, that she was writing the first book of a series, although in fact Mary Poppins Comes Back followed only a year later: the ending is emotionally very mixed. The children are distressed by Mary Poppins's departure, consoled only by her parting message to Jane (not 'goodbye' but 'au revoir'). But spring is a time of growth and new beginnings, the Parrot Tulips are in bud, perhaps it is time for the children to outgrow the nursery? The book closes with Jane taking on the adult rôle, tucking Michael in "just as Mary Poppins used to..." Poor Jane, she must learn to be the sensible eldest, and to be womanly, while Michael remains the indulged boy-child.

  Mary Poppins MP Comes Back MP Opens the Door MP in the Park
Arrival East Wind The Kite The Fifth of November  
  The Day Out      
MP's relations Laughing Gas Topsy Turvey Mr Twigley's Wishes The Park in the Park
  Miss Lark's Andrew Miss Andrew's Lark   [The Faithful Friends]
MP tells a story The Dancing Cow Robertson Ay's Story The Cat that Looked at a King Every Goose a Swan
Bad Days Bad Tuesday Bad Wednesday   Lucky Thursday
Street Vendors The Bird Woman Balloons and Balloons Peppermint Horses  
Baby Knows Best John and Barbara's Story The New One    
World Builders Mrs Corry Nelly-Rubina    
Evenings Out Full Moon The Evening Out High Tide

Happy Ever After
The other children Christmas Shopping   The Marble Boy [The Children in the Story]
Departure West Wind Merry-Go-Round The Other Door  

As I read ahead, finding chapter types repeating from book to book, I made a table for my own reference. This seems a good place to save it. Presented visually, it's obvious at a glance that Mary Poppins has more chapters than any of the books that follow. It isn't any longer; if anything (and this is a rough estimate, since I don't have all the books in a uniform edition, but looking at the percentages on my Kindle edition it's a noticeable difference) it is shorter. The three books which follow are more equal in length, but each one has fewer chapters than the preceding one, as if the author were relaxing into her material, feeling more at ease with allowing the story to unwind. Starting out she feels the need for structure and incident, but as she goes on she starts to trust her material. The final two books, Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane and Mary Poppins and the House Next Door (which I admit I think of as the apocryphal gospels) are much shorter, and each consist of a single long chapter - but I'll get to those in due course (honestly).

[User Picture]From: nineweaving
2014-05-01 04:51 am (UTC)
What a wonderful table!

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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-05-01 10:15 am (UTC)
It does make the process very clear, doesn't it?
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