I can imagine hearing you all cheering when I say that this is the last Famous Five for Grown-Ups that I can review for a while. I know I have really bombarded you with them, and I suspect that there will be more to come as there are some waiting to be published in the summer, as I mentioned last week! Either way Five Go Parenting was the last one to be read of my existing pile, so lets get on an have a look at what this book brings to the fore.
The Five as Parents?
As some of you may know I have often written about the possibility of the Five and their perspective partners having children and what sort of parents they would have been. Dick for example would have been the ‘funny’ one and Anne, the almost perfect domestic stay at home mother. Needless to say that I cannot imagine George having children and I’m almost glad to say that not only is this theory backed up by Fiona, but indeed by Mr Bruno Vincent in Five Go Parenting.
To carry on with the idea of George being a parent, let’s look at what happens in the book when the Five are told that they’re to have temporary, if not total, custody of their “evil” cousin Rupert’s young child, Lily. Yes that pesky cousin has appeared again (and we still don’t know what side of the family he is from), and he’s been up to trouble. The Five track him down and deliver him and his girlfriend to the police, only then to be landed with the daughter of said evil cousin as the closest family members.
Lily, basically, is the typical baby; she cries, poos, dribbles, and wraps everyone’s heart around her little finger. However George remains the most aloof, most hard heartened and most practical. Lily is less than a year old – she’s about eight months I think its said at one point – and Julian and Anne want the little girl to start learning an instrument. George rightly points out that the little girl can’t even hold an instrument, let alone understand how to play one. Julian and Anne get so caught up in the idea however that the end up with a list if instruments that Lily could play. George remains unconvinced however. She seems to be fond of Lily but at the same time, aware of the implications of bringing up a child.
The most surprising member of the clan to take to Lily and adapt her into his lifestyle is Dick. He manages where the others failed, in calming Lily down enough to sleep for short periods of time. He manages to even multi task. Mostly by singing to her while he’s doing things on the computer or something similar that doesn’t take much brain power, but for Dick this is amazing as he’s not portrayed as a very capable adult. However, Lily wraps him around her little finger by grabbing tightly onto Dick’s almost the moment she is deposited with the Kirrin cousins. It’s really quite nice to see because I always felt that Dick would be good with children.
Anne of course is the organised one, making sure she’s got enough bottles to feed Lily, and encouraging the others to be pro-active with the activities and being social with Lily. She even encourages the boys to take Lily to a dads’ class, where they have to do some running around with the buggy, without a pub in sight!
I suppose for most of you that what I am going to say next is unsurprising. However, Julian, in my humble opinion, if you were true to the books would be a model father. In this however he is less than useless. I do not think there is one time where he does something that endears Lily to him, at least that is mentioned. He leaves her with Dick on the dads’ buggy run, and the only times he seems to be interested in her is when it comes down to finding her a school and her learning an instrument, that seems to be it. I mean its good that he’s interested in her academic studies – like anyone should be – but he’s not the best at dealing with Lily as a small person.
The thing is that overall the Five as a unit make up one responsible, functioning parent, at least up until the very end of the book where they accidentally leave Lily at a birthday party. Still, it’s good to see that they can get round most of the tricky parents of parenthood. Maybe when Bruno Vincent’s Five have their own children they will actually manage to make a better go at things. I still believe that mine and Fiona’s interpretation of the Five with children of their own was much much closer to Enid Blyton’s than this spin off.
Or maybe I’m just tooting my own horn a bit too much! Whoops!
This particular Famous Five for Grown-ups is probably the best to date. There were a few bug bears that my mind rebelled against, such as Julian and Dick trying to sneak out to the pub, and the fact that the five have iPhones is still somewhat jarring to someone who adores the original books.
However, it seems the Bruno Vincent has gotten closer to the mark with their personalities in this book, and the way they actually end up taking on the challenge of looking after Lily is endearing and quite heart-warming. I think without a doubt that any new mother should read this an hopefully see the funny side to the problems and such. In fact it’s a good one for all parents. I think it really seems to catch the pitfalls and highs and lows of parenthood and modern-day technology impacting on the way we deal with children now-a-days.
Fiona, I think you need to read this one before your baby arrives. As a how NOT to do it!
The other thing about Five Go Parenting is that its actually funny! Funny! It has been the only one I have actually found myself laughing out loud at. There are some genuinely funny moments, especially when Julian ends up standing on Lego, which I know is no laughing matter, but the fact that its good to know that however pompous you are, it doesn’t stop you standing on Lego!
If you read only one of these grown-up Famous Five books then I suggest it is this one. Hands down the best so far, which is why I gave it a four star rating on Goodreads which is rare for me to do. I’m not the only one who seems to think this is a good read. Check out the Goodreads reviews if you don’t believe me!
I think that’s enough of a bombshell to end on. I actually like one of these books. I do urge you to go and read it. At the moment, most places seem to be selling them at discounted prices, so go and get your copy while you can! You won’t regret this one, I promise!