Five Forget Mother’s Day – honestly, how could our beloved Famous Five forget the one day a year that we use to celebrate our mothers (not that we shouldn’t celebrate them everyday!)? I got this book to give to my mother on Mothering Sunday or before as I won’t be in the country for the UK’s mother’s day this year – taking a long weekend with my other half in Italy – so I felt that before I gave this to her, I should read and review for the blog. I mean, come on, how much more topical can I get than this? So let’s take a look at what Bruno Vincent has done to our much loved Five and our darling Aunt Fanny in this installation of Famous Five for Grown-Ups!
What an Utter Disaster!
Bear with me on this one, because I don’t necessarily mean that the whole book is an utter disaster, but the whole point in the story line is that the Five cannot basically arrange a drinking session in a brewery, which is a long cry from when they were children and used to have brains and proper adventures.
Between Julian, Dick, Anne and George they have successfully managed to screw up getting a birthday present, a Christmas present and an anniversary present for Aunt Fanny and George is worrying what to get her mother for the upcoming mother’s day. Well this is where it all goes a bit wrong because Aunt Fanny just arrives at the Five’s shared house and starts taking over, rearranging the kitchen and buying them a new vacuum cleaner.
The Aunt Fanny we knew and loved from the books seems to have gone and been replaced with some strange hybrid who doesn’t listen to anyone and tries to force her opinions on everyone and has a lost her motherly filter. Shes very blunt and the whole visit plays on the fact that George and Aunt Fanny can’t see eye to eye, when it seems to me that they are actually very alike!
Eventually, after a strange, surreal ‘moment of truth’ in a Wetherspoons of all places, Aunt Fanny leaves the Five to their own devices and heads back to Kirrin. The whole thing blows over, especially when Uncle Quentin manages to land himself in hospital, and Aunt Fanny proclaims it as the best present ever because she was desperate to get him into the hospital for a check up anyway. Help! She’s suddenly gone sadistic!
So that’s a basic overview of our plot, now shall we look at the actual story?
My Oh My, What a Mess!
Without a shadow of a doubt this is another Five on Brexit Island all over again. The concept is fine, it works as a’grown – up’ novel but the story doesn’t seem to have much a point to it for a long time, not to mention some of the things that Bruno Vincent throws in randomly! Such as Julian being a heavy drinker, Aunt Fanny feeling like she could fancy Dick if she was younger and Anne randomly saying darling every five seconds.
The whole book feels messy! Just as messy as Brexit, as if it was written in a rush without any proper characterization or way to string the very basic idea of the plot together. To look at the characters properly first for example, Enid Blyton’s loved characters are so far from the original in Bruno Vincent’s book, that I could be reading about very different people.
Julian is an alcoholic; Dick reserved and yet incapable; Anne tentative and overly sweet and sickly; while George probably shows the most similarities to her original character than the others in the fact that her temper is always close to the surface in this novel. The essence of the characters is there I suppose but the warmth, and joy of them isn’t. Vincent has failed to bring the characters – even a vague approximation of them – to life again. He’s made them too modern, to sassy, to techy. Not to mention appallingly ignorant of anyone else! I wish I could say that the redeeming factor was that it was funny, but for me the humour fell on deaf ears.
My Final Thoughts
I really wish I could like this book, because the idea is such a good one – especially with the twist at the end, but its so hard for me to do, even though I pick up these books and never expect to find the Famous Five of my childhood I can’t find them funny.
Some little titbits here and there can be found a little amusing, maybe the summaries of Uncle Quentin or Dick breaking something valuable in an antique shop where they were hoping to buy a present for Aunt Fanny, but all in all, I can’t recommend this book. If you get given it for mother’s day, then please do read it and let me know what you think, but if you can borrow it from someone, please do! The only reason I brought it was because it was on offer on Amazon and you know I’d do anything for you guys.
So there you have it – I never thought there would be a grown-up Blyton as bad as Brexit Island, but there is, and we have it. I am surprised we didn’t have many more titles for Valentine’s, and St Patrick’s day. Maybe we’ll have one for father’s day, but I think there might be a new one out in the summer… we shall have to see!
As always, let me know what you think in the comments, its always helpful to hear another opinion!
Looking for something else to read? More Famous Five for Grown-Ups reviews can be found here.