Having decided that I would take a whole bookcase worth of books with me back to uni, the fact that some Enid Blytons were among them kind of got lost in the shuffle of packing, moving and unpacking. But now that I’m back at uni, and have set up my lovely new bookshelf, the Blytons do stand out among the various Philip Larkins, Graham Greenes, Barbara Pyms and George Orwells that I’ve also brought back.
I brought them back really because I’ve fallen in love with Blyton’s work all over again during the summer, having read The Boy Next Door, The Treasure Hunters, and re-reading some of my Five Find-Outers and Famous Fives. I also managed to read Island of Adventure, which, like the rest of my Adventure Series, I never got round to reading until now. These are the ones that are now sitting on my new uni bookshelf, plus The Secret Mountain.
I knew little about these two series when I was originally getting into Blyton, as I was fully taken with the Famous Five, Secret Seven, and the Find-Outers, but after sifting my way through the internet for people’s personal reviews and thoughts/opinions, they appear to be the dark horses in Blyton’s back catalogue, and Island of Adventure certainly proved to be a fabulous read.
It featured loveable characters, daring adventures, danger round every corner and a thrilling ending, which does, at first glance, sound like bog-standard Blyton. But it had something about it which, at present, I can’t quite put my finger on. It certainly had similar characteristics as say, the Famous Five, but it had a lot of character all on its own.
The fact that there are only eight books to this series made it even more enticing to bring back with me, as I ploughed through Island in a day, but I’m still missing Sea of Adventure, which hopefully I can rectify with one of the book shops in Hull.
Another reason for bringing these books with me was that I’ve heard that the Adventure Series features a variety of exotic locations, something which the Famous Five and Secret Seven lacked, if I remember correctly.
I always pictured the characters of Enid’s work as having their adventures never advancing more than the quiet little village, or the wide-spanning marsh-land, or the conveniently hidden secret island. Never once did I think that Enid’s characters could go off out of the country of all things!
Also, the characters themselves also strike me as people whom I’d like to explore more. Again, purely for reference, it’s easier for me to compare them with the Famous Five, so bear with me! Philip and Jack have immense chemistry together, right from the beginning of Island. They also strike me as having the bromance that Julian and Dick never really had (Julian being the pompous but well-meaning leader and Dick being the jokey klutz).
Dinah also comes across as the perfect type of sister for a brother like Philip, and they both strike me as also having a close bond similar to Philip and Jack. And then there’s Lucy-Ann, the Anne of the series (right down to the name!), she struck me as a sweet girl, but nothing much to write home about. Still, I’ve another seven books to plough through, so who knows how these kids turn out!
Plus, these various Blytons aren’t the only children’s books I’ve brought back with me. I’ve also brought back my Paddington Bear books, my Just Williams and my Narnia collection, all of which I think act as a soothing tonic to most of the pretentious dribble I often get lumbered with on my Creative Writing course.
In terms of editions, they are all paperbacks and mostly ones from Armada from the late sixties. These ones are Island (’66), Castle (’68), Ship (’69), and River (’66) and all feature Stuart Tresilian lovely illustrations. Secret Island is also an Armada paperback, from 1965, but fails to mention who provides the illustrations!
Both Mountain and Valley come from Piper Books and both dates from 1988, while Circus comes from Piccolo Books, the edition I have first being printed in 1975, although this one appears to be the 12th print, dating from 1983. Both Mountain and Valley feature no inner illustrations, but Circus does, and they are once again provided by Stuart Tresilian.
So for those reasons, I can’t wait to get stuck into this, what hopes to be, fab little series, plus The Secret Mountain as a bonus read.