Last time I talked a bit about the places and people the story was based on and how annoying I find Wilfrid. Now on to more of the plot (perhaps!)
Mistakes and foolish decisions
I think the reason this is a least favourite title is that the Five are so dumb in it!
It’s not their fault that they rather jinx themselves by taking out a boat called Adventure, though it’s foolish of Julian to state that they are CERTAINLY NOT going across to the island as that really was asking for trouble.
After that, it’s all on them.
We know that the Five are pretty experienced when it comes to boats. George has owned one for a number of years and the rest have used her boat on multiple occasions. It’s not just a case of them knowing how to row to Kirrin Island and back, either. George rowed them right around the island to view the sunken wreck in the first book, it’s said she takes her boat out fishing, Julian and Dick row along the coast to Red Tower’s place to rescue George, and they handle Tinker’s boat to the Demon’s Rocks Lighthouse.
So, they know boats and presumably the dangers of the sea. They should also know that they need to be careful in unknown waters. But what do they do? They go rowing off without thinking and get swept along with the outgoing tide. They’ve even heard a story about two men who went missing, having potentially done exactly the same thing. They should have been better prepared – but then of course there wouldn’t have been an adventure. (It wouldn’t have been impossible for them to have suffered some sort of incident that led to them going out too far – being hit by the wake of a tripper’s motor-boat and losing an oar for example.)
Having landed on the island they are then extremely foolish in not pulling the boat up far enough – something they know to do at Kirrin.
On the island Julian and the others make lots of silly comments and questions and behave as if they’ve never solved a mystery before.
Julian can’t decide whether or not they should hide from the men on the island. He declares them thugs and foreigners, which means they are also certainly not gamekeepers. I mean, he’s right, but it’s one of those leaps of logics that’s right by luck more than sense. After Timmy is shot Julian wants to march up to the men to announce they are there, to prevent being shot. But if they’re thugs, potentially criminals, and not game-keepers, as per his assertion, surely that’s a really bad idea? Thankfully he changed his mind after and tells everyone to steer clear.
Julian also falls asleep(!) thus allowing Wilfrid to sneak off and get into bother. It’s not said whether the others are also asleep but clearly none of them notice him going even though he’s been warned to stay put.
Having found the well, and a door inside it they are baffled and ask How could there be a door in the side of a well going deep down into the earth? I know they are stand-alone books but they do reference the odd previous event, and it’s maddening that they act as if they never went down a well on Kirrin Island and into the dungeons from there. Julian even asks But where on earth would it lead to?
Going back to the fact they are on the island at all – it struck me that they are actually trespassing, and it’s for the flimsiest of reasons that they are poking around. They made wild assumptions (again, annoyingly they are at least partially right but not by any real logic that I could see) that the island may be a clearing ground for a gang of high-class thieves.
The Five do trespass in various books, but usually they have at least some evidence that a crime is being committed rather than just hearsay. As far as they know the owner of the island could be legitimately removing and selling the artefacts that they own as part of buying or inheriting the island.
Of course there is something dodgy going on – though it’s not the most secret place. While it may be difficult to land on, the island is not hard to see from the surrounding areas, nor would boats which come and go in the middle of the day. There’s also a conundrum of why do Blyton’s thieves always move their stolen goods around the country to obscure hiding places and then send it back again? That’s just asking for a lorry to break down or have an accident and then be noticed by the police, but I’m getting off the topic of the Five’s idiocy.
On top of his wild accusations Julian says I never thought of that at least half a dozen times. It almost me wonder if he thought of anything at all.
Lastly when George says she will make her way down the passage to the beach as the others have gone up the well, nobody is concerned. They are all laughing and acting as if there aren’t other men – not knocked out – who could catch her on her way along. I’m surprised Julian didn’t order Dick to stay with her, but then again he didn’t think that Timmy couldn’t climb ropes even though they’ve come across that problem before.
They eat a rather curious mixture of things in this book.
First up Mrs Kirrin (Barnard?) complains that the Five ate two pounds of sausages in one night – but they do remind her that Timmy was there.
Then the boys and Anne go to the shops for more sausages for lunch, after which is a steamed pudding with lashings of treacle.
They also got an assortment of cakes – including cherry buns – which are served with bread-and-butter, plus a meaty bone for Timmy.
They go shopping for their stay in Mrs Layman’s cottage and Anne buys so much from the bakers that she can’t get it all in her bike basket, and Timmy gets a very meaty bone.
In the cottage there is only some old bread, stale cakes and sour milk in the larder. Is Mrs Layman disorganised or does she not feel the need to feed Wilfrid?
Anne admires the tinned food the others have bought – fruit salad, pears, peaches, sardines, ham, tongue. Plus a new cake, biscuits, chocolate wafers. I’d hope that wasn’t an exhaustive list of what they got as I’d expect them to have/want salad, bread, butter at the very least.
For dinner/lunch Anne says they’ll open a tin of tongue, there’s plenty of bread left, and they’ll have lettuce and tomatoes. And heaps of fruit.
On the island all they have is two bars of chocolate, peppermints and barley-sugars – this is starvation territory for the Five.
Luckily Timmy steals half a ham in a move reminiscent of the one he pulled in Hike. Wilfrid is annoyingly smart in bringing tins, a large loaf of bread and a pound package of butter, along with plates and spoons plus waggomeat for Timmy. (No tin-opener but Dick has a pocket knife attachment.)
When they sit to eat on the island they have a tin of tongue, two tins of fruit and a large tin of baked beans with bread. There is no mention of them heating the beans, though! Another island meal is suggested but none of them are hungry which must be a first for the Five.
More to come next time including the ever popular nitpicks!