“I’m not a Starcatcher anymore, James.  I’m a mother of three and the wife of a prominent barrister who does not approve of talk of starstuff and evil creatures and the like.  Childhood fantasies, he calls them.”

These are the words of Molly Darling, nee Molly Aster, a hero in the previous Peter installment, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon.  Now, I’m not here to disparage wives and mothers, especially now that I’m both of those things.  But I reserve the right to mock a formerly powerful girl who not only worries about, but abides by what her uptight, self-righteous husband “approves” of.

Thankfully the lady doth protest too much and by the beginning of the next chapter has embroiled herself in the dangerous adventure that threads through the book.

But Wendy, she’s another story.

When Rundoon came out I blogged about how it was unbelievable that such a powerful female figure as Molly could have birthed such an impotent one as the traditional Wendy.  I hate to be smug (well, actually I really like to be smug), but it seems that, though they gave it a valiant effort, the authors of Sword of Mercy failed to cleanse Wendy of her century-old trappings.  And it’s not their fault.

In this book, although Wendy is indeed a brave and resourceful girl (“just like your mother,” everyone kept saying) she is actually a shadow of her mother, a very poor copy indeed.  For one thing, her plan often, almost entirely, involves finding help from a father or other authority figure.  Which is interesting because at the outset she has enough self propulsion to fly herself unassisted (except for a few porpoises and some starstuff) all the way to the Island to find Peter.  But once she finds him, she leans on him to figure stuff out, or drags him along to find someone else who will. I can’t help but agree with Tink who surmised, “Does she know anything?”

She’s also a huge crier.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Molly crying once in all her adventures.  The crying is so pervasive that even an adult Molly cries in this story after showing great fortitude and strength for the entire book.  OK, now I’m just being judgmental.  If  therapy has taught me one thing, it’s that crying is not a crime, nor a weakness, as long as it doesn’t prevent you from acting.  Unfortunately that is what happens to poor Wendy.  The girl is destined to be lovestruck by Peter, and to be the pseudo mother of the Lost Boys (her maternal instincts with her much younger brothers were prominently on display throughout the book already). What else could the authors do with her?

Sadly, by the end of the story she is so devastated by her now beloved Peter leaving (not the fact that they were almost killed 20 times, or the fact that her parents almost died in a dungeon, or the fact that the world itself was in danger and was only saved from annihilation because of their small group’s efforts) that she turns to mush:

“He [Peter] rose, followed by the others, except for Wendy, who sat with her face buried in her hands. . .Wendy sobbed.”

All this while her mother Molly and Peter share an intimate moment of remembrance about what they used to mean to each other.  That part, if you think about it, is a little creepy.  But I digress.

Overall, I feel sad for Wendy, created so long ago that she still cannot break out of the restrictions of Victorian and Edwardian society.  A love for the right man, just like the love for your children, should give you added strength, not diminish your abilities.  Perhaps in that way she is representative of all the women, even today, who daily struggle between nurturing their independent selves and their roles as mothers and wives.

Turns out these stories are not about the Lost Boys after all.  They are about the Lost Girls.