I have been having a rather reminiscing look back at childhood reads and in particular what has stood out is Enid Blyton books. I discovered that many had been ‘rewritten’ to bring in line with more modern ways of thinking. Or not thinking in my opinion. I have reread the first Famous Five book and talked about that here. So for my next Enid Blyton was the first Five Find Outer’s book – The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage.
This is the book where we are introduced to Fatty, Larry, Pip, Daisy, Bets and Buster the dog! Larry and Bets are brother and sister and so are Pip and Daisy. The outsider is a bored child who is staying at the local hotel with his parents is Fatty or Frederick Algernon Trotteville, his initials spell out FAT. I am sure calling a child Fatty is not right and goes against all these new versions of Blyton. But hang that, this is proper Blyton! The local policeman who obviously does not like children especially ones that interfere in investigations is Pc Goon known as ‘old clear-orf’ because that is his opening line whenever he sees the children one step ahead of him in the investigation.
Reading this book again, I now realise what a fairly adult theme the mystery was. A cottage is burnt down whilst the owner is away, and there are plenty of suspects but there is something about the owner that is a bit strange and would he have benefitted from the insurance payout? The children work it out in the end, and the humour of them chatting about it being overheard by a man fishing results in them putting Pc Goon in his place when they are actually given the honour of having solved the mystery first!
This is true Blyton, plenty of golly’s and goshes. The children having tea and only being allowed on bike journeys when they are deemed old enough. Being allowed out for hours on end as long as they were back for tea. Adults not knowing where they really were or what they were up to, even at night they went sneaking off. All that lemonade, sandwiches and cakes, my mouth is watering already. It is very different to the Famous Five, because rather than the children going off on adventures, the adventures happen to the Five Find Outers right on their doorstop. There is also the gravitation of the children towards each other rather than being thrust together all family as in the case of the Famous Five. Of course there is a dog because really it is the dog that is the most loved character!
I have to confess that I did not enjoy this book as much this time round. Perhaps as an adult I have a more cynical view and memories have faded as I really did enjoy these as a child and found them most intriguing and also funny especially the character of Fatty and his great ability to mimic and dress up in later books.
I cannot remember the cover of the book I read as a child, the one shown at the top of this post is the version of the book I read and I think it is awful, the cartoons of the children especially. Thanks to the wonderful Enid Blyton website all published editions of the books are shown and I think this was the one that I read.
Going against the grain of my aim to review every book I read on Amazon, I have chosen not to with this book, mainly because I wanted to mention so much more about the plot and how actually these books are a trip down memory lane for me. I want to continue this adventure back into Blyton and think next stop is either the first Malory Towers or St Clare’s stories – the original’s of course.