The Enid Blyton Society
Five Get Into a Fix
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Book Details...

First edition: 1958
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Famous Five
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


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

Cloth boards from the 1st edition showing a vignette of the 'Five'. This is the only book in the series to have anything other than the title and signature on the cover.

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

Cover picture from Chucklers' Weekly, August 15th 1958, illustrated by Monty Wedd

Internal picture from Chucklers' Weekly, August 15th 1958.

1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Stuttgart in 1960,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump with the title Five Friends in the Old Tower

1st Spanish edition published by Editorial Juventud in 1969,
illustrated by José Correas
Foreign Titles
German: Fünf Freunde im alten Turm
French: Le Club des Cinq aux Sports d'Hiver
Dutch: De Vijf en de schat in de bergen
Spanish: Los Cinco en peligro
Portuguese: Os Cinco nas Montanhas de Gales
Italian: I Cinque in Aiuto della Vecchia Signora
Swedish: Fem i fara
Danish: De fem pĺ vinterferie
Finnish: Viisikko Vuoristossa
Russian: Taina swetiascheisa gori
Slovakian: Slavna Patka v uzkych
Serbo-Croat: 5 Prijatelja u skripcu
Icelandic: Fimm á hćttuslóđum
Basque: Bostak arriskuan

Brief Summary by Poppy Hutchinson: Recovering from coughs and colds, the children are prescribed a holiday in the Welsh mountains. Days of tobogganing, skating and snowmen lie ahead, but the children soon become distracted by a mysterious local building called Old Towers. Having seen 'shimmerings', and vans visiting the place in the dead of the night: surely there is something strange going on? When the Five go to stay in a Chalet near Old Towers they discover some breath-taking secrets involving the atmospheric building.

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
The fact that Mrs Kirrin's marriage was dissolved and that she took up with another partner has never been reported in any of the books for obvious reasons. Divorce and casual co-habitation between the sexes was not nearly as common in the fifties as it is now because there was a degree of intolerance attached to it but at least in Mrs Kirrin's case there was a smooth transition with no embarrassment. George is still George Kirrin of course and the reason for this folderol is that in the first chapter of this book, Mrs Kirrin is referred to as Mrs Barnard! This has become of legendary status amongst those people in whose lives Enid Blyton plays a large part but there is also another explanation given by more Establishment-Orientated individuals who would be shocked at the very thought of Julian, Dick and Anne's mother marrying again, or worse still, shacking-up with someone. "The name Barnard is an error." There you are ... what an excellent and convenient solution. Apparently whilst typing the manuscript EB accidentally introduced the surname of "Barnard." Why was she thinking of Barnard? Was she visualising a future book of a farm-life, meadows, and barns, or did she know a Barnard? Why not accidentally put Waters or Pollock or Smugs? Who knows and need we really care? When I looked at a 2001 edition of the book I noticed that the alien name has been banished from the Kirrin household so it's agreed, officially, that it was simply a mistake in the pure sense of the word and that should be the end of it — full-stop!
Because they are all sick, the children are packed off to Wales for a reviving week's holiday. There is a complaint by a psychologist at the back of the Enid Blyton biography authored by Barbara Stoney that the Kirrins live in the environment of Upper Middle-Class as if there is something wrong with that concept and then he seems to imply that it's unacceptable for them to arrive at their destination in a chauffeur-driven car. It needs to be pointed out to the psychologist that Mrs Kirrin hired a car with a driver to take them all to Wales because, to the best of my knowledge, neither of the Kirrin families had a resident chauffeur. Mind you the petrol-cost to the Welsh countryside might have been fairly high but there's nothing wrong with being a little well-heeled surely, and if this is not acceptable then — the Kirrins won a goodly sum of money from a pools ticket.

The driver takes a wrong turn when they are almost at the end of their journey and they go part of the way up a hill where they see a large building with towers and stout wooden gates behind which is a very angry and vicious-sounding dog. They retreat and are surprised to find that the car is moving very sluggishly. It's almost as if it is being pulled into the ground but it seems to right itself when they reach the bottom of the hill and this is one of the mysteries that is essential to the plot. Not faraway is a place called Magga Glen and they locate the farm-house where they will be staying. Their host is an elderly woman called Glenys Jones who is actually an auntie of the Barnards' gardener (I say Barnard only to distinguish Julian, Dick and Anne's parents from George's father and mother who are also Kirrins).

Mrs Jones has a giant of a son named Morgan who is the master of about seven well-trained dogs. He's rather an uncommunicative person and fits well into the mould that Enid Blyton sometimes created for male actors who have a slightly lesser role such as the stolid Mr Penruthlan in the twelfth book of the series. Timmy has a run-in with a few of Morgan's dogs and George who fears for her pet's well-being wants to go home or at least acquire accommodation elsewhere. They consider it and in the meantime Julian and Dick set off for a walk on the snowy mountainside and call in for a rest at a summer chalet which belongs to Mrs Jones their host. Whilst they relax, another character is introduced in the form of a small Welsh girl whom they invite in for a snack. This independent waif who would best be described as a six year-old version of Jo the circus girl (friend of the Famous Five) has two little pets — a lamb and a dog. She speaks a tiny bit of English and tells them her name is Aily, her dog is Dave and the lamb is Fany and it appears that she is the daughter of a local shepherd and spends most of her time running around the hills and dales — a setting which leads Dick to describe her as a pixie of the hills or an elf of the woods. Back at the farm the Five get Mrs Jones' permission to stay in the chalet where Timmy will be reasonably distant from the farm dogs and it would also be a good base for a little skiing and tobogganing.

They settle in and are visited by Aily's mother who tells them that an elderly woman lives in the mysterious building which they visited when they took a wrong turning on their way to Magga Glen. That dwelling is obviously going to be central to this Famous Five adventure because its inhabitant is considered a little out of her mind. There are also periodic noises, mists and "shimmerings" which envelop the place and vans have been seen up there in the dead of night!

Dick sees a "shimmering" one evening when he glances out of the window but it has disappeared by the time the others have rushed to have a look then later when they are in bed, Anne who's still awake hears a noise like far-off thunder and the ground briefly shudders. She is terrified and waking the others she describes the phenomenon as a deep-down rumbling like a thunderstorm underground. Then they all see a curious glowing mist hovering over Old Towers Hill. It's all very puzzling indeed. The next day they are visited by the shepherd of the hills — Aily's papa, who passes on a little of his own observations. His appearance is not unlike that of a prophet from the bible according to Anne and he impresses them with the dramatic way he speaks about the weird influences surrounding the towered building from which have emerged a few quaint legends. Later on in the day when they are out skiing they catch sight of a person in one of the towers. Is it the elderly lady who is supposed to be living there?

On her next visit, little Aily informs them all that she has actually entered the grounds of the forbidding place despite its walls and gates and she produces concrete proof that there is a woman living there. She has also observed the presence of other people! It appears that urgent action needs to be taken but when the boys report everything to Morgan — Mrs Jones' son, he's not too happy with what he considers is plain meddling in affairs which are nothing to do with children and he tells them to drop the matter. The Fives' suspicions are aroused and Morgan is number one on their list of suspects involving anything untoward that might be occurring in the defined area. Aily comes into the story yet again and she is very helpful as she possess a dog's pin-point accuracy when looking for something essential which is hidden by the snow and from this point the Five are able to begin some constructive investigations in order to get to the bottom of things. There is obviously a visit to the towered house around which the tale is woven. There is a passage of course but that's quite excusable because which Kirrin book doesn't have one? A passage can be regarded as essence of the cult.

There are criminal activities taking place at the old house and the culmination of Good versus Evil involves the presence of ferocious, snarling dogs, much violence and fighting with the enemy, not to mention a strange secret that is revealed. Once again, a wrong tangent has been taken but the end chapter is entitled All's Well That Ends Well so there are elements of hope to which one can cling. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.