Retro Reading: The Divine Ms Blyton

Enid Blyton – that mistress of adventure, magic and exploration!  In my quest to re-read books from earlier in my considerable history, I decided to plunge back into Blyton’s world of wonder.  Selecting “The Secret of Spiggy Holes” as my text – part of the Secret Series, following the adventures of Jack, Mike, Nora and Peggy –  I settled back as the fifth member of the adventurous party.  While reading, the memories came flooding back and I realised that Enid Blyton writes in such a way as to make certain assumptions about life as she knows it self-evident.  So I present to you some of the “Universal Truths of the Queendom of Blytonia (otherwise known as Enidville)”:

1. The natural state of children is to be left alone.  Parents are merely the mechanism by which children are delivered into the world.  After this, parents are to leave  children to their own devices as much as possible, and this may be achieved through sending them to boarding school for the better part of the year, followed by shipping them off to mysterious and highly explorable places during the holidays, to be watched over by eager-to-serve, yet averse-to-intrusion adult guardians.  The parents in Spiggy Holes have accomplished this essential part of their duties to such an extent that they even purchased an island to which their offspring may retreat whenever the whim takes them.

2.People with foreign accents should be assumed to be smugglers, or involved in some other type of shady dealings, unless proven otherwise.  To this end, they should be kept under surveillance by any means possible, including, but not limited to, midnight watches using binoculars handily supplied by one’s adult guardian.  The exception to this rule is foreign children – for these are almost exclusively members of royal families, and should be befriended immediately.  Developing a friendship quickly and covertly is essential in this case, as it is highly likely that the foreign child is the victim of kidnapping perpetrated by the shady foreign adults previously mentioned.

3. There is always time for tea. Preferably involving a selection of cakes and biscuits, bottles of lemonade or ginger beer, cold pork pies, ham sandwiches, and plums.  Packed into a picnic basket for increased compatibility with exploratory parties.

After dipping a stone toe back into this simple world, I have decided that I will continue to reacquaint myself with old Enid through the St Clare’s school stories.  Please feel free to share your own reminiscences of times spent in Blytonia…or any other Universal Truths that I may have missed.

Until next time,

Bruce

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15 thoughts on “Retro Reading: The Divine Ms Blyton

  1. Oh my favorite from childhood! I think I have read nearly all the books she wrote at one time or another, even in adulthood. In fact, I still have about 50-60 on my shelves, just waiting to be re-read. Love your work Bruce.

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  2. I’ve not ever read Ms Blyton! I have heard her name, but never seen these books. Where have I been?! She sounds much like Nancy Drew and The Boxcar Kids. And the title that you chose is intriguing. I would love to go to a place called Spiggy Hole! Especially with a picnic of pork pies and plums! Thanks for sharing — I’m going to have to do some searching for Enid!

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  3. Omigosh – you crack me up! lol I’ve seen this “leaving the children to their own devices” as an on-going trend. How else will children get into mischief thus providing material to work with? I often lament in my reviews, “Exactly where is the parental supervision here?” 😉

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    • Yes – I find it particularly strange in English literature that parents are quite happy not to see their children for upwards of 6 months at a time when they send them to boarding school and then let them stay at school for the holidays or holiday independently …Perhaps that’s why so many child protagonists are orphans – it’s a more plausible plot line!

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      • I couldn’t agree more. I remember my Mom threatening me with getting sent to a nunnery. Is that even a possibility? Wow! Where would I be now if THAT had happened! *Shudder*

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  4. Hi….just popped on over as part of the Kid Lit Blog Hop……
    My favourite Enid Blyton book as a kid was Mr Galliano’s Circus.
    I think I need to track it down and read it again to see why I liked it so much.

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    • Yes, it’s interesting to re-read and try to remember what the appeal was – I’m about to re-embark on The Twins at St Clare’s…I remember this series with great fondness, so I hope it stacks up!

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  5. I think every kid everywhere would agree with you on #1! That’s why one of the cardinal rules of juvenile fiction is to make sure the children solve the problem of the story with little to no help from a parent or teacher.

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  6. Thanks for linking in with this post! I love going back and rereading my favorite books! Think we’re taught to like this after having to reread books to our kids day after day after day after…?

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