Here’s the second of my Famous Five “Pick’n’mix” reviews. As I mentioned in my previous blog entry I decided to re-read all the Famous Fives, not in chronological order, but in the order I felt like reading them!
This time, I selected Five Go To Mystery Moor, mainly because I didn’t remember the story very well. The edition that I chose to read is a third impression (1956) copy in fair condition, but without a dust jacket. I also have a 1971 Knight paperback copy, but again, I chose the earliest edition to read.
As it was an excellent spring day, sunny and quite warm, I decided it would be an excellent plan to sit outside for an hour or two to read the book. Generally I can’t stay out in the sun much longer than that due to my fair skin, and the harsh sun in New Zealand (due to the thinning ozone layer down here). By happy coincidence, that is about the same time it takes me to re-read a Famous Five! So I made a cup of tea in a travel mug, and packed up a bag with my picnic rug, some snack bars and of course my book. I journeyed to our local park (a whole 5 minutes walk away!) and settled in for a nice relaxing read. Rather a nice place to sit and read a book, don’t you think?
As with my last Famous Five review, I won’t attempt to replicate Fiona’s excellent synopsis of this book here .
I’ll just have a natter about the book, and offer any insights that might pop into my head!
As I mentioned above, one of the reasons I chose to read this book, was that I didn’t think I remembered much about the story. I had a vague impression of the five getting lost in a mist, and gypsies, but that was about it. However, as soon as I started reading it, it all came rushing back! On the very first page the reader is informed that Anne and George are at a riding stables while the boys are off camping with some school friends, and that there is another tomboy there – Henrietta, known as Henry. I definitely remembered the stables, and Henry, and when the book moved onto talking about gypsy signs or “patrins” I remembered that too – as a kid, I thought that was pretty interesting. I DIDN’T remember the planes dropping mysterious bundles, which does seem rather strange as that is a very important plot point!
Predictably, George does not like Henry. Particularly as Henry has straight hair, and therefore looks more like a boy! Strangely Timmy does not like Henry much either. Normally Timmy just doesn’t like the bad guys, and Henry certainly isn’t one of those. Timmy, as most dogs are in Blyton’s books, is normally a very good judge of character. My mother once told me if I ever brought a boy home who the dog didn’t like, then I would no longer be allowed to go out with him! Perhaps Timmy was just picking up on the vibes from his mistress? I seem to recall that in other books George got annoyed at him for liking people that she didn’t like.
Personally, I found Henry quite a likable character, and very well-drawn by the author. I liked how she admitted (to herself, anyway) at the end that she was too scared to go out on the moor alone, at night, while there was a thick mist swirling around – fair enough, I say!
What annoyed me about Henry was how, when she was scared, she decided to go seek help from William, because even though he is younger than her, of course he’ll know what to do as he is a boy:
“He’s only eleven, I know, but he’s very sensible – and he’s a boy. He’ll know what to do. I only pretend to be a boy.”
Perhaps this was just to show the reader that in fact, Henry is not as much of a boy as George is! And now for George…
Once again, George does not come off so well in this book (see my previous review) as she is rude to Henry, and is in a sulk quite frequently. It does make me wonder why George, as a character, is so well-liked? I wonder if it is because of these flaws, that we like her so much. She seems much more like a “real” person than the other four (I include Timmy in this, because he too is a bit too good to be true!). Or perhaps it is because we know our beloved author modelled George on herself that we like her? It is an interesting thought.
The illustrations in this book all seemed to match the detail of the story, which was a bit of a relief to my pedantic mind! I particularly liked the one on the inside of the front cover, which was very evocative of one of the most exciting moments in the book.
Overall, I enjoyed this story – of course! I thought I would continue to read through my Famous Fives in a random order, and think about listing out my favourite ones (something I’ve not really been able to do before). So far I’ve only read two – so here are the current rankings:
Five Go Off To Camp
Five Go To Mystery Moor
I think Camp was more exciting and suspenseful, which is why I liked it more. I think it also had much more interesting secondary characters.
Now for the next one, which will be, I think, another one involving planes – a trip to Billycock Hill!