Autumn, Famous Five Style (Five on a Hike: Part 1)

October 22, 2009 at 11:51 pm | Posted in Dick, Julian | Leave a comment
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fiveonahiketogethercoverIn terms of Famous Five reading, October has to be all about Five on a Hike Together. This is the story in which they get together for a long weekend in late October and yes, you’ve guessed it, go off on a hike. It’s all sensible for the first few chapters – the girls set off in their sturdy brogues and pack extra pairs of socks, and the ever responsible Julian has made arrangements for the Five to stay in a series of farmhouses and b&bs because, as any sensible person knows, in October ‘it will be too cold to sleep out of doors’ (George). The hike starts well:

‘School already seemed far behind them. The October sun shone down warmly, and the trees in the village glowed yellow and red and golden, dressed in their autumn colourings […] They took off their thick blazers and carried them. Each of them had a rucksack, a mac rolled up tightly, and now a blazer to carry. But none of them noticed the weight at the outset of the day.’

But soon adventure presents itself and before you know it, the Five are facing off with dodgy biscuit-stealing criminals, sleeping in the cellar of a ruined cottage, and Julian and Dick are stripping off and diving into an icy cold lake. In October. Eek.

It’s a lovely story though, and I think one of its charms is in its restraint. The children only have a long weekend away from school, making the story more subdued and lacking the sense of freedom and abandon that characterises the books that are set during the longer summer and Easter holidays. This feeling translates through to adult life, I feel, even though I’m no longer subject to terms and holidays, and the summer stories have less appeal for me at this glorious yet more sombre time of year.


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