As blue as cornflowers…

May 10, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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Enid Blyton is fond of the simile ‘as blue as forget-me-nots’ – the sea in Five Have a Mystery to Solve and the sky in Five Go the Mystery Moor (which I’ve just re-read and found to be a terrible disappointment) being just two examples. I’ve not recently noticed any mention of anything being ‘as blue as cornflowers’ (although I’m sure many things are), but as cornflowers are populating the florists of East London at the moment I couldn’t resist the opportunity to put up a photo of these beauties, currently gracing my windowsill.

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  1. Five Go To Mystery moor may not have been as exciting as most other Famous Five, but at least it showed how, for instance, gypsies live. That opportune becomes available, due to George’s being left behind with Sniffer the gypsy kid, after her several disagreements with the other three kids of The Five group. She (George) and Sniffer take this opportunity to visit his camp and sees the deplorable conditions gypsies are compelled to live under. In my book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com), I compared this venture with a real venture that took place later in Uganda, when a Scottish/British teacher recruited by the British Ministry of Overseas in the late 1960s/early 1970s decided to venture for himself and see some of his African students lived in Uganda, and one student offered to take him to his village where he saw how hard life was for these kids and soon to appreciate why many of his students “misbehaved.” James Marshall recollected all these aspects in his book titled, A School in Uganda. In a similar manner George, coming from another culture soon comes to appreciate the difficulties of gypsy life all the family sleeping in one caravan. On reflection, one can appreciate the problems Jo (Ragamuffin Jo) was to encounter i.e. under such deplorable conditions, Jo’s mother died, and his family (his Dad) turned to a life of crime. Yes, indeed these back-to-back books i.e. Five Go To Mystery Moor, Five Have Plenty Of Fun (the last book in which Jo was to appear, I wish she would have appeared in more Famous Five adventures), while not forgetting Five Fall Into Adventure and Five Have A Wonderful (two other books in which Jo appears) as well as other gypsy-related book such as Five Go Off In A Caravan, and other non-Famous Five books such as Six Cousins Again demonstrate the unique dynamism and insight into which Enid Blyton delved into a culture that was not of her own (though George Greenfield, her agent for 20 years, described her as having “gypsy” features). No wonder Enid Blyton has proven to be “immortal” in her writings and this aspect makes her to be as such.

  2.      Actually, I’m pretty sure Enid Blyton did describe something – probably either the sea or the sky – as “blue as cornflowers” somewhere – probably in a Famous Five book, but I don’t remember which one. Also, Jo’s final appearance wasn’t in “Five Have Plenty of Fun”; she also appeared in the very last Famous Five book, “FIve Are Together Again”.

  3.      Also – I don’t agree that “Five Go to Mystery Moor” is less exciting than most of the other books. I actually think it is quite an exciting and suspenseful story. Not a disappointment at all to me.

    • Hello Michael,
      I’m glad that you enjoyed Mystery Moor. We all have different favourites, I’m sure. I don’t recall saying Jo’s final appearance was in Plenty of Fun (she does indeed have an important role to play in the final adventure) but see my post ‘As Sweet as Sweet Williams’ for more on the cornflowers simile…

      •      No, it was Stephen Isabirye who said that – I was replying to both posts in the one.
             FamousFiveStyle, are you on either the Enid Blyton Society Forum or the Yahoo Blyton group? If so, it’s possible I might already know you under a different name.

      • I want to correct Michael that Jo did not appear in “Five Are Together Again.” “Five Go To Mystery Moor” is quite an exiting book as George through Sniffer learns how gypsies live. In the following book, “Five Have Plenty of Fun,” Jo, the gypsy girl appears for the last time in The Famous Five series.
        Stephen Isabirye, author, “The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com).

  4.      Stephen, you’re quite sure of that, are you? I haven’t read the book for a while, so I can’t really debate it – but I was sure I remembered that. This blog owner seems to agree with me. But I’ll look it up a bit later, and will then either be right, or have to concede I was mistaken.
         I thought “Five Go to Mystery Moor” was good mainly just because of its plot, although the portrayal of the gypsies’ life does of course add some interesting colour. I really liked the moors as a setting, and the sinister mists that seemed to dominate the scene at times. I thought this book had a good climax – a few of the Famous Five books do have a slightly lame climax, but this isn’t one of them.

  5. I can’t remember much about Five Go To Mystery Moor, as it’s more than 40 years since I last read it, but there was not a single Famous Five book that I did not like growing up.

    Sure they didn’t all have the excitement of Five On A Treasure Island or Five Go To Smugglers Top (my favourite), but I think Enid did a great job of appealing to both girls and boys of that era, something that not all children’s books have been able to do.

    • Forgive me, Stephen is right – I was thinking of Five Have a Wonderful time rather than Five Are Together Again (which features the other main recurring child character, Tinker Hayling). I’ve not read FATA for many year but I seem to recall there’s a slightly similar set up ie that the Five are camping near a fair/circus… Anyway, thanks for the comments (and corrections). I will give Mystery a Moor another try as it seems to be an enduring favourite!

      Michael – no, I’m not on any of the other Blyton forums although I am a member of the Enid Blyton Society and do take a peek at the online discussions from time to time. Perhaps I should visit more?!

    • Hi Tony. I agree – I adored Enid’s books when I was little and still love them now I am grown up. But I do think some are better than others!


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