When I was younger, my prized possession was my ‘Famous Five’ collection. I had the entire series and read each story several times. Uncle Quentin and Aunt Fanny reminded me of a well-to-do aunt and uncle of mine who also lived by the sea. One of my cousins was even bossy like George. I went to stay with them in the school holidays a few times and it always felt like I was in a ‘Famous Five’ adventure when I was playing with my cousins in their huge house or on the beach.
I always wanted to be part of the group with Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy and go on their adventures with them. Having picnics with lashings of ginger beer, going staying on Kirrin Island (George’s very own island), holidaying alone in lighthouses and going for trips in bow-top caravans. Can you imagine children these days being allowed to go off and do these things alone?
I think Julian, the eldest, was only supposed to be around 12 or 13 at the beginning of the series and he was in charge of the other children when they went on their adventures. This, to me, just added to the charm of the series as it seemed like Blyton had created this idyllic world, where nothing terrible ever happened and things were so perfect that a boy who was barely a teen could take charge of 3 other children’s welfare for the weeks on end they spent on holiday. Terrible things did, of course, happen but everything was always resolved by the end of the book with no harm having come to the children and everyone cheerfully discussing the latest escapade. Aunt Fanny, of course, always had a mini-meltdown when she heard the danger that the children had faced, but for some reason, let them go off again in the next school holidays. (Hey, it’s children’s literature. Nobody said it had to make sense, right?)
I still have all of my ‘Famous Five’ series stored away safely for my daughter. She’s 9 now but not quite responsible enough yet that I would entrust my pride and joy to her. However when I do, I know she’ll love them as much as I did.