I know you’re getting an onslaught of these Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups at the moment, but as they’re quick to read they make a perfect blog to work on. I can pick up the book on a Monday night and finish it by Tuesday lunchtime if I don’t get interrupted while reading.
Anyway, Five Give up the Booze starts out promisingly, I’ll give you that. So now is time to take a look at it all!
Are our Five really alcoholics?
We open the book on New Year’s Eve, and the Five are sipping champagne cocktails and wondering what the New Year will bring for them. On their way to their party they pledge to only have a few drinks and then leave, no one really wanting to stay long and Anne asks them about their New Year’s resolutions. The others join in with her resolutions halfheartedly and the party begins.
The next morning three of the Five are hung-over (Timmy being the one who was completely sober the whole time) and Julian who has been permanently drunk since before Christmas. Slowly it dawns on all of them that they have to do something about their drinking problems and Anne makes them all agree that they should give up the drink for January and focus on their health.
Julian is the most reluctant because he doesn’t see himself as having a problem, but eventually realizes that he has been drinking excessively and agrees to join in. They face a huge problem however because they have a family friend’s wedding at the end of the month where the drink is going to flow. Julian also happens to be the best man so the double temptation to drink is there because he has to go on the stag party, with Dick, and the girls have to go on the hen do, leaving Anne to have a little lapse.
The whole book culminates in the Five raising a double scotch to a ‘dry’ month when the clock strikes 12am on the first of February and the friends have done remarkably well, even with the curve balls they’ve been thrown.
You might all be a bit surprised at this, but Five Give up the Booze comes out quite well compared to some of the others I’ve read. Its actually got substance to it, a problem that doesn’t just appear out of the blue, and the challenge is presented to the reader quite early on. There’s a bit more ’emotional’ depth to the Five this time around. We get to look a little deeper into their heads, especially Julian’s!
It turns out that Julian is fighting a lot of demons about the drinking, and being best man. The Julian we know, who tends to be organised and on top of things has gotten lost somewhere and he only writes his best man speech the day before the wedding! The dark sides of Julian seem to be the key to this characteristic. The parts that no one seems to like, such as the pompous attitude, the arrogance etc, make up the basis of his character. Gone is the integrity of his good meaning ways, and its been replaced with an ignorance arrogance as you’d expect from some sort of high class nincompoop! However, you Julian haters out there will like the fact that by the end of the book he does get himself a black eye. I won’t spoil how, but it comes after a particularly cringe-tastic part of the book that I never really thought would make it into a Famous Five book. I literally slammed the book down at this point and had to have a moment to compose myself before reading on to see how it ended.
That all said, there are some down parts to this book, for example Anne took up smoking in her teenage years and then again when she’s denied booze for a month – where on earth did that come from?! Anne, smoking? Purrleeeasssseeee! She wouldn’t have touched one of those – and neither would she have been a heavy drinker. The characterization in these Famous Five for Grown-Ups is way off. I can never really find the original characters in them, and tap back into the nostalgia. The characters are basically lost in a mash up of grown-up and modern day mannerisms that make them unbearable to read about in a way.
Even though I write stories about the Five in their advanced years I cannot see how anything could change them to be so different. Of course I agree that is only my interpretation of them, but it’s hard to enjoy the book when the link back to the original Five is so weak and flimsy. Where are the Five we love, Mr Bruno Vincent? Just where!
This Famous Five for Grown-Ups comes out much better than the others so far, it has a linear progression – we know it comes after Brexit Island for example, and we know that the Five have a hurdle to get over to complete their goal of a dry January. So I really feel as though this book deserves a higher rating than the others apart from the fact that the characters are so unrecognizable.
Have you read Five Give up the Booze? What did you think? Let me know?