Enid Blyton's Famous Five

There has been an awful lot going on at home and work at the moment - birthday parties, family visits, decorating and a great deal of work - and because of this I felt like reading something easy and light which doesn't require too much concentration.

I dipped into a few books, a D E Stevenson, an Angela Thirkell and a Rebecca Tope, but none of them captured my imagination. Then I remembered a conversation that I had with a close friend about Enid Blyton's adventure and mystery stories and decided it was time for a rereading of a few Famous Five books.

I started with my all time favourite - Five on a Hike Together, moved onto Five Go to Smuggler's Top and thought I'd complete my nostagia fest with Five Get into Trouble. There was only one problem: I'd got completely hooked on the characters and the books and wanted to read more. So I have!! A lot more. To date, with other books on the go alongside the Blyton, I have read ten of the series. There are 21 titles in all. Will I be compelled to read them all?

A few things have surprised me whilst I've been reading. Firstly, whilst I love the Famous Five I have always thought that I prefered the Mystery stories. The Five Find Outers and Buster the Dog are great characters, I love Peterswood, Mr Goon, the policeman and minor characters like Mr Goon's nephew Ern and Chief Inspector Jenks. However, I've found myself loving the four cousins and Timmy the dog, who comprise the Famous Five, and I have loved their adventures to date. Secondly, the books are darker than I remember. Certainly, the early books are quite eerie, with a sense of danger and foreboding. As I read them I am reminded that the early titles were written at the end of the Second World War and whilst they don't make reference to rationing, air raids or Germans, they do have a dark undercurrent. Finally, in comparison with the Mystery stories, the villains are more ruthless and frightening and the situations more thrilling. The Sticks, the villians of Five Run Away Together, are memorable for their unpleasantness and wouldn't be out of place in an adult crime novel.

So, I think I will continue with my re-reading of the books. I've pretty much read all of my favourites now but there are eleven adventures remaining to enjoy and, with the exception of Five get into a Fix, they are books I haven't read for years, so the stories should be fresh. Maybe once I've completed the series and, after I've cleansed my palate with an Anthony Trollope or two, I might reread some more Enid Blyton - the Secret series or the Adventure series. Such pleasures await!