Here we are at the penultimate instalment of my Famous Five series of posts. Thanks to anyone who’s stuck with me and actually read them all. As always there may be spoilers, I accept no responsibility for ruining your enjoyment of these books.
FIVE GO TO BILLYCOCK HILL, 1957
The Location: Billycock Farm and Hill
The ‘Baddies’: The phony Mr Brent and Mrs Janes’ son
Significant other characters: Toby, a friend from school, Toby’s little brother Benny and Curly his pigling, Jeff their cousin who is a flight lieutenant in the RAF and Mr Gringle a lepidopterist also known as a ‘butterfly man’
The Plot: The Five are camping in the Billycock area, near Toby’s family’s farm. They meet Mr Gringle out looking for butterflies and find him quite strange, but still visit the butterfly farm to admire his collection. They go back the next day to show the butterfly Anne caught, but it is Mr Brent they see and he behaves even more peculiarly.They also talk to Mrs Janes who warns them away as her son is a nasty piece of work. Late one stormy night they hear a plane flying overhead and see who they think is Mr Brent out on the hill. The next day they are scared out of the Billycock Caves by a loud whistling noise. Jeff is then reported missing – and he s being accused to flying off abroad in his top-secret plane. A bit of investigating is in order so the boys head to the butterfly farm, and are briefly captured. Benny and Curly then disappear, but Curly reappears with a something written on him that leads the Five to the missing people.
My favourite parts: Not one of my favourite books, I can’t think of much I really love about this book. Julian is kind to Mrs Janes, the old lady, and gives her some money, and Benny is cute with his pig who “runned away”.
FIVE GET INTO A FIX, 1958
The Location: The Five are in Magga Glen in Wales to recover from an illness.
The ‘Baddies’: Thomas Llewellyn- The old lady’s son.
Significant other characters: Mrs Jones at the farm, her son Morgan, Aily, Fany-the-lamb and Dave-the-dog.
The Plot: Heading to Magga Glen the driver takes a wrong turn and they head up a hill, at the top is a house with a bIg gate and a loudly barking dog. As they head back down the car struggles to move, it seems to weigh a ton, but works fine again once they are off the hill. The Five settle in at the farm, and are enjoying themselves until Timmy gets into a fight with some of the farm dogs and George is determined to go home. Mrs Jones suggests they take the summer cabin, where Julian and Dick stopped at on their walk and met Aily, the little daughter of the shepherd. She dresses far too lightly for the weather but doesn’t seem to feel the cold and doesn’t speak much English. With that sorted they move into their new digs and enjoy a spot of tobogganing, but at night a really strange thing happens – there is a loud rumbling and vibrating from underground and a bizarre shimmering above the hill opposite where the house is.
My favourite parts: Morgan shouting for his dogs. DAI! BOB! TANG! DOON! JOLL! RAFE! HAL! Makes me shiver, every time. (And yes, I named them all without looking it up!) Aily is cute, too, and I like how she interprets the letters Mrs Jones throws her and the “fence that bites”.
FIVE ON FINNISTON FARM, 1960
The Location: The eponymous Finniston Farm
The ‘Baddies’: The American Mr Henning and his sidekick Mr Durleston
Significant other characters: Mr and Mrs Philpot, the Two Harrys (twins – Henry and Harriet), Junior Henning, Nosey the Jackdaw, Snippet the Poodle and Grandad.
The Plot: The Five are staying at Finniston farm, as are Mr Henning, a loud American man, and his rude son. Mr Henning is determined to buy as many old heirlooms from the Finnistons as possible, and the Finnistons are short of money so they agree. There was once a castle on the farm ground, which burnt down long ago. Supposedly there were dungeons which were never found, though they contained treasure from the castle. The Five, plus the Philpot twins decide to search for the dungeons to help out Finniston Farm, but Junior Henning hears them and Mr Henning gets a permit to dig for the dungeons – digging where he saw the Five discover the castle’s kitchen midden earlier. Thanks to Nosey and Snippet, the Five plus the twins are able to enter the dungeons before the men but getting out of the dungeon is not as easy as getting in. Thankfully two of the farm workers are around to help out.
My favourite parts: The story of how the castle was burned down, and of the Lady escaping with her children. I also love Grandad’s triumphant sword-wielding at the end. I wasn’t aware of this as a child but Finniston Farm is based on a real farm owned by Enid Blyton which is a lovely thing to read in the foreword to the book.
What do you make of these three titles? Are any of them your favourite?