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Five On A Hike Together by Enid Blyton - Review

Friday, April 26, 2024

So this was a bit of an unusual read for me. I don't usually read children's books, and I wouldn't generally choose Enid Blyton to read for many reasons, but I did have a good reason. I was away at a spa hotel at the beginning of April with my partner, and there was a lake just down from the outside hot tub. On the Saturday morning before we came home we could use the spa again, and we were watching two people row out on the lake to the middle. I remembered that in this book the Famous Five have to orientate themselves in the middle of a lake to find some sunken treasure. I was telling Lee about it and thought I would like to reread the book. It was on Kindle for 78 pence so I bought it!

So, the Famous Five have got a half term holiday weekend from their schools, so they decide to meet up together to go on a hike on what is probably Bodmin Moor. They meet up and set off on their hike, planning to stop at inns and farmhouses along the way for the next few nights before they have to go back to school on the Tuesday. But then Timmy goes down a rabbit hole and injures his leg, so the four kids have to split up. Julian and George go to see a farmer who may be able to help, and Anne and Dick carry on to Blue Pond Farm, where they will hopefully get a bed for the night, and where Julian and George will meet up with them later on. However, Anne and Dick get lost, and they end up at a different farmhouse. The woman who lives there is deaf, and she really doesn't want them in the house on account of her son. But she agrees to give Anne a bed in a little loft room, as long as Dick will sleep in a barn or something. The children are quite scared and tired, so they agree. They have also been scared by some loud clanging bells, the reason for which they're not sure of. But they each bed down for the night, still hoping that Julian and George will turn up (they don't realise they're in the wrong place). 

Then in the night, Dick is woken up by someone scratching at the barn window. The man is asking for Dick by name... but surely he can't mean Dick?? But he has a message, something about Gloomy Water, Two Trees, and Saucy Jane. Oh, and Maggie knows. Dick is totally baffled, but goes back to sleep. But then he is woken again by someone coming into the barn - someone who is clearly waiting for a message. They eventually leave, and Dick is able to go back to sleep. 

In the morning Dick and Anne have to make a quick getaway from the farm, realising it's the wrong place, and before they incur the wrath of the woman's son. They head back to the village and meet up with Julian and George, and Timmy, who is doing much better after some treatment. Dick remembers the strange night time happenings, but no one believes him... until he produces a map. They can't make head nor tail of it, but asking around they realise Gloomy Water is the name of a small lake nearby, and that Two Trees is the house that used to stand on its shores. They try to tell the police about the message and learn that the clanging bells meant that a prisoner has escaped from the nearby prison, but the policeman has no time for the children. So of course they set off to Gloomy Water themselves to see what they can find, and to see if they can decode the map. 

I really liked the adventure, still. It feels like a good one and I liked how the children decoded the mystery. In that, I think it stands up to time. But obviously Enid Blyton is problematic and there's a reason we've moved beyond her in the seventy odd years since this book was first published. One thing I did find stood out was maybe the class issues in the book. Julian and the others NEVER say please or thank you to any shopkeepers or innkeepers who serve them, and they are treated very well by these people, and deferred to, which I think might be a class thing. For instance one inn landlady calls Anne 'miss' even thought she's about ten. The lack of saying please or thank you really annoyed me. They're pompous. Modern Britain really isn't like that and neither should it be!

But I did enjoy the foray into my past with this book, and for that I'm giving it four out of five. 

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