Ah, Brexit.Â Whether you love it, hate it,
want it or are just thoroughly sick of hearing about it, you can’t avoid it. And nor, it seems, can the Famous Five.
This is one of five books in Quercus’ ‘Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups’ series, a collection which aims to entertain nostalgic readers by embroiling the (now grown-up) Famous Five characters in modern, adult “adventures”, including ‘Five Go on a Strategy Away Day’ and ‘Five Go Parenting’.*
What’s it about?
In an attempt to escape from the general bad mood of Britain as its inhabitants argue over the upcoming referendum on EU membership, the grown-up Famous Five (George, Anne, Julian, Dick and Timmy the dog) head for Kirrin Island. Initially it seems the perfect escape, but the next day brings divisive news from the mainland.
Once they discover the referendum result George has a strop and declares Kirrin Island’s independence from Britain. Julian, who actually argued for Brexit, wants Kirrin Island to remain part of Britain, so a second referendum is planned. Can the Five’s friendship survive this adventure?
What’s it like?
This was a Christmas gift and I can see why it was chosen for me: I loved Enid Blyton’s books as a child and generally have a good sense of humour, even where the dreaded Brexit is concerned.
I enjoyed parts of this, especially the connections developed between Boris Johnson and Julian (think zip wire and PR stunt gone wrong) and the development of language to discuss events (adding -xit to any word even vaguely related to the topic). The presentation of journalists was also amusingly (or perhaps depressingly?!) accurate, as was the swarming flock of salesmen keen to capitalise on the momentary elevation of a small island to national news – and the willingness of the supposedly high-minded electorate to buy from them!
Bruno Vincent (who is the actual author of this political satire, despite the publishers splashing Enid Blyton’s name all over the front cover) is also sufficiently aware of the structure, typical contents and language of the original books to enable him to include a few successful nods to them. So it is that when Timmy arrives one of the adults greets him with the exclamation, ‘There’s Timmy. We must be near the end of a chapter.’
I enjoyed this more than ‘Five Go Parenting’, though I’m still surprised to learn that it was a bestseller – a glance at the Amazon reviews suggests that this is likely due to people buying the book as a topical gift for someone else, rather than as a treat for themselves.
As before, I found it odd that the publishers have opted to use pictures from the original books randomly scattered throughout this book. I suppose it does help evoke the spirit of the series, but they didn’t match with the captions underneath them and they weren’t used in chronological order, so there were essentially random images and random quotations scattered throughout the story.
Mildly amusing but probably something you’d only read once – the satire isn’t sufficiently deep nor the humour sufficiently funny to encourage multiple reads.
‘Five on Brexit Island’,
2016, Quercus, hardback
* See my review of ‘Five Go Parenting’ for a little more information about the series.