db105 wrote:Reading other reviews, I find out that in the original the children do not buy sweets for the old seaman, but tobacco. I guess the powers that be decided that child readers could be perverted if exposed to the idea that an old sailor smokes.
A PLEASANT MORNING - AND A SHOCK!
Where shall we go for our walk?’ said George, as they wandered through the village. ‘Oh look - there’s a tiny little shop with Tom the Tobacconist written over the door. Let’s get the tobacco while we remember.’
So in went Julian, and rapped on the counter. A very small man appeared like a hob-goblin out of a dark corner.
‘I want some tobacco for Jeremiah Boogie, please,’ said Julian. ‘I think you know the kind he wants.’
‘I do that!’ said Tom, scrabbling about on a shelf. ‘The amount that old Jeremiah has smoked since I’ve been here would keep a bonfire going for years. There you are, young sir!’
‘He tells a fine story,’ said Julian, putting down the money for the tobacco.
Anita Bensoussane wrote:People under the age of 16 are no longer allowed to buy tobacco or tobacco products so that's probably why that part was changed. It's not as convincing though.
db105 wrote:Another thing that bothered me is that the children were in danger on the island and they had a perfect opportunity to escape and alert the authorities when Wilfred arrived with a boat, but they didn’t take it. Then, after being kept prisoners and escaping, they decide to spend the night on the island in spite of the presence of bad guys with weapons. Just get away, guys!
db105 wrote:The adventure is pretty standard but not bad. A bit short, but in line with some other books in the series. The main problem is that we get the same kind of thing we have seen multiple times before. I would have welcomed some more original elements.
Once more, the plan of the bad guys is a bit silly when you stop to think about it. And I don’t understand why they did not run away when the children escaped.
One thing I liked is that Anne (yes, Anne!) is at her fiercest here. She had warned her brothers and cousins that she could turn into a tigress, and in this book she does, twice!
Then we get an anticlimactic ending, with the author informing us that the bad guys were arrested, but we don’t get to see it in first person.
All in all… well, this is clearly not Blyton at her best. But it is not too bad either. It doesn't sully the series.
Rob Houghton wrote:The main strength of the story, as I've said before in other threads, is that the setting is all based on real-life locations - and I've visited most of them - Enid's golf course, the moorland that goes down to the sea, the white cottage, and of course Whispering Island.
Moonraker wrote:So far, most of the FF books have been better than I had anticipated... Note that I said 'so far'— I was amazed and shocked by the downward-spiral in quality and style of Mystery to Solve. To begin, there is a special notice at the start:Enid Blyton wrote:My readers will want to know if Whispering Island is real, set in the great blue harbour in the story—and if the little cottage on the hills is there still—and the golf-course in the story—and Lucas, who tells the children about the island. Yes, the island is real, and lies in the great harbour, still full of whispering trees. The little cottage on the hills is still there, with its magnificent view and its old well—and Lucas can be found on the golf course, nut-brown and bright-eyed, telling stories of the animals and birds he loves so much. I have taken them all and put them into this book for you—as well as the friends you know so well—The Famous Five.
Firstly, this begs the question why her readers should be so keen to know if WI is real—are they more interested to know this rather than the authenticity of Smuggler's Top, Kirrin Island, Owl's Dene and so on? Secondly, by making Brownsea Island and Poole Harbour the real locations in this story, she firmly sets Kirrin not only in Dorset, but very close to Poole, as it is a quick bicycle ride away from Julian's family home, which we now know to be close to Poole Harbour. A little odd that this branch of the Kirrin/Barnard family is now living near Poole when we have never heard mention of a move to this district. We see a boat in the harbour on it's way to a large seaside town, I imagine that would be Bournemouth. So, where is a small seaside village such as Kirrin is described, yet only a short cycle ride away? Answer, there isn't one. Therefore, bringing real locations into a fictitious land is both misleading and regrettable.
Gone (in my H&S First Edition) is the charming frontispiece illustration. Instead, we have four random Soper illustrations, two at each end of the book. Nothing new in the foreword, we have the same 'letter' from Enid that has appeared in several past stories.
We start at Julian's home and get to meet Cookie - a rather stern character with none of the charm of Joan/Joanna. They have a pet called Tibby-cat who is 'scared stiff' of Timmy, so is sent to the shed where a saucer of milk is provided. Much is made of Anne suddenly becoming a tiger? Didn't she lose her fear-virginity on the moors when a spook-train created a volcano—or am I getting muddled here? Cookie can't hold a candle to Joan, as Anne goes into a baker's and practically empties the shelves of cakes. Too many even to fit into her basket! Timmy doesn't like Cookie, and it seems the feeling is mutual. After Cookie says "I don't want that great hungry dog sniffing round me all the time, making out he's starving, when he's as fat as butter!" After Timmy 'stalked out in a huff', Julian laughed, saying, "You've wounded his pride, Cookie!" To which Cookie replied, "I'll wound him somewhere else, too, if he comes sniffing round me when I'm cooking!" Charming.
We also learn that Anne was top of her form, and captain of games. What a great little middle-class paragon of virtue she has turned out to be.
Now we come to the visitor. Mrs Layman—of whom we have never heard before. Yet Julian says: "Mrs Layman's a nice old thing—she was always giving us little treats when we were little." Really? Did Mrs Layman live in London at the time? However, in the following chapter, George says: "I say, who's this Mrs Layman who's coming to tea?" This suggests that Mrs Layman hasn't always lived near Poole Harbour—as surely it would be George who knew her and not Julian. However, when Mrs Layman arrives, Julian's mother introduces her to the others, saying, "This is Mrs Layman, children," — which seems to give the impression that in spite of being at the receiving end of 'little treats' when they were little, have now totally forgotten her in the past few pages.
The muddle over whether her grandson, Wilfrid, considers Granny to be his aunt has been mentioned, so I won't add to that. When Mrs Layman returns to the cottage as the Five are inside, wouldn't you think that she would come in and speak to them? No, she stands at the gate and calls them.
Now that Kirrin Cottage is just down the road from the Layman cottage, getting their clothes is not a problem.
"Is that an island in the middle of the harbour?" asks Anne. Seeing as Poole Harbour houses many islands, this seems to be a strange question from a top-of-the-form schoolgirl.
I have only read four chapters and am already confused. With only Five are Together Again left to read, I feel that Demon's Rocks should have been the last in the series. Goodness knows what else lies in store for me as I progress through this book.
In making the locations real in Mystery to Solve, Enid has far from clarified locations, she has muddied the waters so much that the former locations in previous books are now impossible to imagine. Malcolm Saville got it so right in his books, including maps of each area at the beginning of each book.
Trying to shed some light to myself on this deterioration, I can only admire the fact that Enid wrote hundreds of books and a colossal number of short stories, that to remember all the past events at an advancing age was probably too much to expect. However, to muddle up a major series so much is a great shame. It is so sad to witness the deterioration of a great mind into the ramblings of a second-rate author. Very, very sad.
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