I have been meaning to read and review this for a while, and having finally got around to it in the first week of January I realise that I am actually reading it at the time of year it is actually set. Which is quite nice, even if we have no snow.
As a side note, I am rather gobsmacked to realise that I haven’t read this book in over ten years. TEN YEARS. I know this as I started logging everything I read on Goodreads in early 2012, and I have not read it in that time. I knew it had been a while, but I hadn’t realised it was that long. The Fives are my favourite Blyton series, so I feel a bit guilty to have abandoned some of them for a decade!
A story in three parts
I didn’t divide the last book (Billycock Hill) into parts, mostly as I was too preoccupied with trying to work out why it’s my third least favourite Famous Five book. It was probably also because I didn’t have a good enough grasp of the storyline before reading it which is when I generally start this bit, fine-tuning it if my opinion changes after reading.
Anyway, Five Get Into a Fix is my 8th favourite book and so I have a much better recollection of the story.
I would therefore divide this one into:
- The Five at home, and their first days at Magga Glen
- The Five moving to the summer chalet on the hill and getting involved with Aily
- The underground adventure and the ending
Off to Magga Glen
I had forgotten that the book started with a mention of Christmas. The Five are lamenting that they spent Christmas day in bed because of having a bad cold (seems a bit extreme to me, but from later descriptions it sounds as if they had a flu-like illness) and are still not feeling up to scratch.
As is often the case in Blyton’s books an illness means time to recuperate is needed, and doing that in your own home is only for the poor. If you have the money you go off for sea air, or mountain air, or as for the Five here a bit of both. I’m not sure that the actual air itself is of particular benefit (other than it being healthier than city smog) but a change of scenery, some exercise and so on is undoubtedly good for you.
The Five end up going to Magga Glen as fortuitously the gardener has overheard their plight and has an old aunt who lets farmhouse rooms in the Welsh mountains not too far from the sea.
All they need to do is pack copious amounts of clothing (more than they would if their mother/aunt wasn’t supervising I’m sure), plus skis and toboggans (doesn’t everyone had a shed full of these?) and they are off.
The first strange thing
Often nothing mysterious happens for a while, but we get one thing quite early on in this book. It seems like an isolated incident – nothing more than a wrong turn taking them to a locked gate guarded by an aggressive dog. Nothing too strange about that, lots of people have dogs and gates.
Even the when the car crawls heavily down the hill from the house, despite the accelerator being pushed down, it seems just a spot of engine trouble.
But then the tale of the strange magnetic hill reaches the Five’s ears. A hill that the postie can’t take his bike up as it becomes too heavy, a hill topped by a house inhabited by only an old lady who’s said to be off her head.
Still, they’re not going to take a wrong turn again, and they certainly wouldn’t be going back up the hill to to the big old house for any reason.
When Welsh hospitality isn’t enough
The Five often camp out, or stay in caravans and so on, but sometimes they go to farmhouses or other homes (Five Go Down to the Sea, Five On Finniston Farm, Five Go to Smuggler’s Top). They don’t always stay the entire time – in Five Go to Mystery Moor the riding school is oversubscribed, so after a few weeks there for the girls they head off camping, and in Five Are Together Again they end up camping in field next to Tinker’s house, but this book takes the biscuit for short stays.
They stay just two nights, and if George had had her way it would have been even less. There’s nothing wrong with the house itself, or the hospitality. Mrs Jones is pleasant and tells them they can have the run of their part of the house, plus she provides them with ample food.
However George is silly enough to let Timmy off the lead where he runs into a few of the farm dogs, gets into a scuffle with them and sustains a small bite. George naturally thinks that this is the end of the world, and it’s just about the end of the holiday as she insists that she and Timmy need to leave for his safety.
Luckily there’s a solution. There just happens to be a summer cabin on the hill, all kitted out for small groups. And it just so happens to look across to the back of the hill that the old house is on…
Naturally Mrs Jones is sceptical. The house is designed for summer stays, not winter. There’ll be nobody to ‘do’ for them, and (probably) she has whole larder-full of food she had planned to feed them. But still, they are nothing if not persuasive and get their own way. Morgan, the enormous son of Mrs Jones lugs their stuff up on a sledge, and the Five are alone at last, and although they don’t know it yet, poised for another adventure.
In the next post: All about Aily, Noises and mists and shimmerings and something afoot at the old house.