The Enid Blyton Society
Five Have a Wonderful Time
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Book Details...

First edition: 1952
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Famous Five
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

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Reprint Covers
Artwork
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations

Reprints


Dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper



Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper



1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Stuttgart in 1964,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump with the title Five Friends and the Gipsy-Girl
Foreign Titles
German: Fünf Freunde und ein Zigeunermädchen
French: Le Club des Cinq en Roulotte
Dutch: De Vijf en de verdwenen galeerden
Spanish: Los Cinco lo pasan estupendo
Portuguese: Os Cinco no Castelo da Bela-Vista
Italian: Una faccia nel buio
Swedish: Fem befriar en fĺnge
Danish: De fem i zigřjnerlejren
Finnish: Viisikko Ja Tornin Salaisuus
Russian: Taina rasruschennowo samka
Slovenian: 5 Prijateljev Cigancica Jo
Icelandic: Fimm í Álfakastala
Basque: Bostak Primeran Dabiltza
Catalan: Els Cinc sho passen Estupendament
Indonesian: Lima Sekawan Sarjana Misterius


The name of this book is not as descriptive as most of the others but perhaps the general plot did not lend itself to a more specific title. Five visit Faynights? Five go off in a Caravan Again? It's another of my personal favourites because the book contained elements to which I could relate quite happily and I welcomed the fair-folk with their collection of talents.

Why is George all alone at the beginning? Why hasn't she accompanied her cousins to Faynights for another caravan holiday? The beginning of any book in a series usually has the children either together and waiting for something to happen or meeting up and getting into the action. A bit of a change can be introduced if some kind of sickness or accident happens fairly near the start. It can allow a little straying from the formula and a few can be searched out — a mumps scare in Summer Term at St Clare's and measles in The Sea of Adventure. There was influenza in The Mystery of the Strange Bundle and the same in Ring O'Bells Mystery and a quite nasty accident in The Mountain of Adventure. The late appearance of a regular character can also add a little apprehension and a desire to see an old friend. Fatty of the Find-Outer books arrived late once or twice and Gwendoline in the Fifth Malory Towers book also took a little extra leave. Gwen ... an old friend? Verbal interchange amongst sick children can also supply a little variation early in the story as was displayed in the already mentioned Sea of Adventure and for that matter an illness can be used as an excuse to send children to faraway places where all kinds of things can happen.

George has a cold at the beginning of this book. That's why she's not with the others but like all good colds it clears up and she travels to a village called Faynights to join Julian, Dick and Anne who are holidaying in a couple of caravans which have been lent to them but with no horses attached. On an opposite hill there stands Faynights Castle — an edifice that we can be sure will play some part in this Kirrin adventure. The Five do the things that caravanners do — cook their meals on a fire, visit the shop for supplies and take a look at the newspapers. It's been reported that a couple of scientists are missing — one of whom is known by George's father so the children keep up-to-date with current speculation as to the whereabouts of the two academics. Another item of interest is that some fair folk arrive to set up camp in the same field as the children and initially there is friction caused by Timmy's interest in a box of snakes that is owned by one of the performers. They don't want the Famous Five in such close proximity so they secretly tow their caravans away when Julian and the others are out for a walk. On their return, the Famous Five are shocked to find their allotted camping space quite empty and the boys question the fair-folk re the whereabouts of their accommodation. They can get no answers and are passed from one to the other until Julian threatens to notify the police. A Mr. India-rubber then shows them where their caravans reside ... in the next field. The Rubber Man, as he is known, is quite an extraordinary chap. On an earlier occasion Julian and Dick had casually strolled into their new neighbours' camp and after finding them openly hostile had been introduced to a little of the Rubber-Man's expertise. He had decked them both by slipping in and around their legs like an elastic tripping device. All quite magical! "Us-folk and you-folk don't mix!" That's the catch-phrase and for a fairly good reason. Apparently, in earlier times, some kids had crept into their camp and released over one hundred canaries which were used in an act. This was a prank which probably sealed the fate of the birds so it's no wonder the fair people are wary of strangers.

Unfortunately the farmer who owns the field where the children's caravans have been banished will not let them stay there so it's back to the fair people to say they need a tow. Antagonism arises and a man called Bufflo who is a wiz with a whip shows them a little of his technique. He lashes at Julian and cuts some hairs off the very top of the boy's head! The Famous Five, no matter how resourceful and clever they might be, are not really a match for this sort of person. Besides, it's not only Bufflo with whom they would have to deal but also his friends who are exponents of their craft and all that's needed for the children to withdraw in a tricky situation like this is a knife-thrower or similarly talented character to direct a little aggression their way. The Five are in a Fix. How will they get their caravans out of the unaccommodating farmer's paddock and where should they go? Very fortunately, due to completely unforeseen circumstances, there is a turnabout in the fair-peoples' attitude and they quickly become friends with the children. What a relief!

The fair people are a varied lot and earn their money in the usual way of their tribe by performing to the locals. There's Alfredo the fire-eater, and we've already met the India-Rubber man and Bufflo the gentleman with the whip. Then there's Jekky, a manipulator-of-ropes who is a bit of a Houdini (Houdini or Erich Weiss developed an astonishing ability to escape not just from ropes and strait-jackets but also from prison-cells and cages and even a sealed paper-bag ... a very difficult achievement if you think about it). There's Dacca the tap-dancer and Pearl who is an acrobat and tightrope-walker and even a Mr Slither whose specialty is snakes! The children rub shoulders with them all and learn a lot about the ways and means of fairground performing. Jo — Wonderful Jo! Jo the Agile! Jo the George-look-alike whom the Five met in the ninth book of the series turns up in this eleventh one and links up again with the Five. She became a firm friend of the children after they had helped disentangle her from a life which was on a downward path, and her repeat appearance is a bonus.

The Discovering-a-Strange-Person-by-Training-Binoculars-on-a-Window idea is used again (a like example would be the sighting of a little boy in The Secret of Spiggy Holes). It's quite a good way of introducing another character or factor and there's a certain amount of mystery in an image which is close enough to scrutinize yet too far away for communication. This time it happens within the castle opposite the camp and there are connections with the missing scientists — a face they see in a window could possibly belong to one of them. The Famous Five plus Jo visit Faynights Castle to have a look round and Timmy, who isn't allowed in, disobeys the No Dogs Allowed ruling and joins them. How he got in is a mystery. They all pay a second visit but this time at night to see if they can find out who belongs to the mysterious face. They manage to enter through a secret passage which is what Timmy had used when they first visited. Jo separates herself from them at one stage and the Famous Five are trapped in a room by an obviously evil person. Jo tries to help them but she is caught as well and tied up. This young girl is niece to Alfredo the fire-eater at the fairground so she has connections with all the entertainers including the escapologist. She has learnt various techniques from this specialist and in her position of bondage she reaches back into her mind and searches out all the knowledge of rope-ties that she has learnt at Jekky's knee and we can only hope and pray that she will manage to extricate herself.

The ensuing pages report on a wonderful rescue attempt and it is one time the reader can enjoy a feeling of safety when confronting crooks because the fairground entertainers are involved and an impenetrable castle turns out to be no obstacle to them whatsoever because of their incredible skills which they use to great effect. We go along with them — keeping well towards the rear naturally. Over the wall we go and up into the tower. If anything happens the Five can relax whilst their extremely competent and skilful friends sort the baddies out. We know that Mr. India Rubber can scale walls and knock down an opponent in a matter of seconds, and then there's Mr. Slither the snake owner who has brought along one of his terrifying pythons. The impressive knife-thrower and whip manipulator — Bufflo, is there as well. Holy Cow, is there no competition? Yes! There is! One of the villains brings out a gun and it's not a standard weapon such as we saw near the end of The Sea of Adventure. This one looks like a heavy-duty rifle because the crooks have too much at stake to mess around and they are taking no chances. This is another adventure to read without a break and, I can say with sincerity, that the Five do have a wonderful time! These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.