By Staff Reports
(DGIwire) – Peter Pan has owned the spotlight since J. M. Barrie’s original stage production of 1904 and the classic novel it spawned. But did Barrie tell the whole truth about Peter’s nemesis, Captain Hook? In his delightfully engaging debut novel, Hook’s Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself (Scribner, 2017), John Leonard Pielmeier suggests that there’s a lot more to know about one of literature’s most memorable pirates.
In Hook’s Tale, Pielmeier—whose successful plays, television movies and miniseries include Agnes of God, Gifted Hands, Choices of the Heart and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter—reimagines the childhood of the much-maligned Captain Hook: his quest for buried treasure, his friendship with Peter Pan and the story behind the swashbuckling world of Neverland.
“I have always been an avid fan of J. M. Barrie,” says Pielmeier. “In 2014, my wife and I embarked on a cruise of the South Seas, and the first stop was Robinson Crusoe Island, where Alexander Selkirk—the model for Crusoe—was marooned. It occurred to me that this island, mapped by Selkirk and described by Defoe, was most likely the model for Barrie’s Neverland. Where did Hook sail when he wasn’t anchored in that distant bay? What other islands sat near Neverland? How did Hook get to this far-flung place? These questions began to haunt me, and as soon as I returned home I began the writing of his Tale.”
As we learn in these pages, Captain James Cook (a/k/a Hook)—long defamed as a vicious pirate—was in fact a dazzling wordsmith who left behind a vibrant, wildly entertaining and entirely truthful memoir. His chronicle offers a counter-narrative to the works of Barrie, a “dour Scotsman” whose spurious accounts got it all wrong. Now Pielmeier is proud to present this crucial historic artifact in its entirety for the first time.
Cook’s story begins in London, where he lives with his widowed mother. At 13, he runs away from home but is kidnapped and pressed into naval service as an unlikely cabin boy. Soon he discovers a treasure map that leads to a mysterious archipelago called the “Never-Isles” from which there appears to be no escape. In the course of his adventures, he meets the pirates Smee and Starkey, falls in love with the enchanting Tiger Lily, adopts an oddly affectionate crocodile and befriends a charming boy named Peter—who teaches him to fly. He battles monsters, fights in mutinies, swims with mermaids, and eventually learns both the sad and terrible tale of his mother’s life and the true story of his father’s disappearance.
Like Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, Hook’s Tale offers a radical new version of a classic story, bringing readers into a much richer, darker and enchanting version of Neverland than ever before. The characters that our hero meets—including the terrible Doctor Uriah Slinque and a little girl named Wendy—lead him to the most difficult decision of his life: whether to submit to the temptation of eternal youth or to embrace the responsibilities of maturity and the inevitability of his own mortality. His choice, like his story, is not what readers might expect.