The Enid Blyton Society
Five on Finniston Farm
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Book Details...

First edition: 1960
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

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

1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Stuttgart in 1965,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump with the title Five Friends in the Castle Dungeon

1st Spanish edition published by Editorial Juventud in 1969,
illustrated by José Correas
Foreign Titles
German: Fünf Freunde und das Burgverlies
French: Le Club des Cinq et le Coffre aux Merveille
Dutch: De Vijf op de oude boerderij
Spanish: Los Cinco en la granja Finniston
Portuguese: Os Cinco na Quinta Finniston
Italian: I Cinque nel Castello Normanno
Swedish: Fem gör ett fynd
Danish: De fem og den skjulte borg
Finnish: Viisikko Ja Linnan Aarre
Russian: Taina podsemnowo koridora
Slovakian: Slavna Patka na Finnistonskej farme
Serbo-Croat: 5 Prijatelja cuvari starina
Greek: eta Epeima Toy Kaetpoy
Icelandic: Fimm í fjársjóđsleit

Brief Summary by Poppy Hutchinson: In this eighteenth Famous Five adventure, whilst spending the holidays at Finniston Farm, Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy encounter a brazen and tiresome duo of American guests. They also discover that the dungeons of an old Castle remain under some of the land of Finniston Farm – but nobody knows where they are! Of course: the Famous Five are determined to find them, and uncover whatever is inside them, but they are not the only ones...

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
In 1956, the Blyton/Waters duo purchased a farm in Dorset which became the setting for Five on Finniston Farm not that Finniston was the property's real name but it's always nice to have a little authenticity and the locale (Stourton Caundle) could be the subject of a pilgrimage or two.

The Kirrin boys, Dick and Julian meet the Kirrin girls in the village of Finniston and they set off for the nearby farm where they will be staying awhile. Identical twins are a novelty introduced into this story to make it a little different from others. They belong to the farm and are named as Henry and Harriet but Harriet wants to look like a boy! I can understand that because Georgina views boys as Superior Beings so she wants to be one, and the same goes for Henrietta (Five go to Mystery Moor) but maybe all along it's Enid Blyton who wanted to be a boy and the characters are simply extensions of the fantasy!

At the farm there are a couple of paying boarders — an American chap, Henning and his son, Junior who were well parodied in "Five go Mad on Mesculin" which was acted out by The Comic Strip team. A similar view of Americans and their progeny was expressed in Last Term at Malory Towers which featured Josephine Jones and her brazen, loud-mouthed parent. The twins, who are nick-named The Harries, are a sullen couple at first ... unfriendly and distant. This makes them interesting right from the word "Go!" but they are allowed to melt a bit and become firm friends with the Five when they notice that the Kirrins help with the hard work of the farm and are not belligerent as are the Americans. The extra animals which add to the content are a poodle-dog named Snippet, and a jackdaw called Nosey which the twins adopted after it accidentally hurt one of its wings. The elderly man of authority, who seems a necessity in most of the books, is represented this time by a burly, bearded and white-haired Great Grand-dad who sits in his chair and dreams of days when people worked hard, values were important, and he himself was so strong that he once fought a bull and knocked it out and that's quite true — he really did! As happened in Five get into a Fix where Anne likened the elderly shepherd to an Old Testament character, so does Great Grand-dad remind her similarly when she sees him leaving the room with his head of snow-white hair and his long beard.

The American boy is the convenient "Nasty" and therefore is someone who can be teased or threatened from a position of Righteousness. He's plain awful and he gets on the wrong side of George when being a little disobedient. Timmy is sent to curtail his negative attitude and succeeds in preventing him from doing what he shouldn't be doing! When it's learnt that Junior has his breakfast taken up for him to have in bed, George is once again rather put out and decides to teach him a lesson. She does! The Five are introduced to the farm-hand, Bill and ride around the fields with him in a jeep. As the books and the years passed by, Enid Blyton introduced a few genuine and contemporary items into her scripts and Land Rover is one of them. When they visit the village shop, the children learn from the young girl who serves them that there was once a castle on the Finniston property. George and Anne learn more about this from the proprietor of an antique shop who tells them that he is descended from the Finnistons who owned the castle before it was burnt down.

The story then branches out and it is obvious that the American is doing what Americans always want to do when in England and that is to buy up everything of value especially antiques, and ship them Stateside. One well-known example is when a rich Yankee bought one of London's bridges in the Sixties for a couple of million dollars or more, shipped it over to Arizona and rebuilt it there! Crazy? Not necessarily because it's quite a tourist attraction and that can translate into big bucks. Junior's father, Mr Henning, in true fashion, seems interested in the history of Finniston Farm and any pieces of Old Tyme England there might be around the place and of course, as there was a castle somewhere at one stage, there could be relics or other treasures hidden in long-lost cellars or dungeons and a bit of snooping might unearth something.

The Famous Five are also interested in having a look around but for humanitarian reasons only. The farm has struck fairly hard times and it would be beneficial if something of value was located which could be exchanged perhaps for a couple of new tractors or some modern labour-saving devices although Great Grand-dad would have to be persuaded if it was decided to part with a bit of history because he's rather anti that notion. The rich American makes a few offers for one or two items such as copper-warming pans which were used as hot-water bottles in the old days, and a great old door hanging in the farm-house kitchen area which once belonged to the extinct castle. Meantime the Five are hard at work and with the help of the dogs and a little brain-work, they manage to come up with a lead or two. If only they were aware at the time that Junior had begun spying on their activities and reporting back to HQ — namely his father who lacks a lot in the Ethics Department.

The excitement mounts and at this late stage of the Kirrin books the experienced reader could pause for a moment and endeavour to visualise the result then read on and see if he or she got it right. Great Grand-dad turns out to be quite a character in the final chapter which is entitled "The Most Exciting Adventure We've Ever Had!" There you are — what could be more stimulating?

An Observation: Eileen Soper aged the children as the books progressed and one can go from say — Five on a Hike, and progress through Five go down to the Sea, Mystery Moor, Secret Trail to Five get into a Fix and then it's noticeable, especially on the cover of this current book, that the children's maturity has reverted as far back perhaps as Five go off in a Caravan. Personally I don't mind because the Five were about my age when I first read about them and such images tend to be nurtured over the years. Possibly the age bracket which enjoys the Kirrin series most would be that which reflects the images on the Finniston wrapper. Soper at least produced a little reality in her illustrations of the Famous Five and it's difficult to think of another artist who followed suite. The Find-Outers had three-plus illustrators so it would have been a little complicated to have the children in those books looking older as time went on. The Bill Smugs crowd featured in only eight volumes so they're all right, and the Secret Seven had a couple of artists who kept the ages pretty well the same but that doesn't matter despite the fifteen or so books churned out because they were probably enjoyed mainly by younger readers. One individual I can recall who went the Eileen Soper way is Chic Young who aged Cookie and Alexander quite beautifully from babyhood to their late teens. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.