I used to love the Famous Five. All Enid Blyton books, actually – I’m pretty sure one of the first ‘big’ books I read by myself when I was 7 was a Secret Seven adventure. I grew up with this magical storyteller… so like many, I watched with interest when I saw that Quercus were reviving the adventures last year in a new Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups series.
I wasn’t disappointed!
Five on Brexit Island (along with Five Go Gluten Free, which I’ve also got) is a parody; it’s incredibly tongue-in-cheek – but the stories are short enough that the joke doesn’t feel overstretched, and they’re really very funny! Julian, Anne, Dick, George and Timmy are now all grown, but still getting together for adventures – albeit adventures of a slightly more prosaic nature than catching smugglers. The tone makes fun of everything from the subject of the story itself, to the nature of parody books, to (affectionately) the “What-Ho Golly Gosh” stuffiness of the original Five.
Five on Brexit Island is focused (funnily enough) around the results of the recent EU referendum, and the pages are chock full of topical jokes (Julian starts to look somewhat familiar, in a not altogether flattering caricature of Boris Johnson…). It’s fairly politically neutral – I say fairly; I (as a staunch remainer) was able to recognise my own feelings about the touchy subject, and some of the arguments of the Leave campaign are thoroughly mocked, but both viewpoints are definitely represented. To be fair, it’s satire, and not supposed to be taken seriously, so it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t come down firmly on one side or the other! Some of the jokes will age well (Brexit being a pretty historical event) and some won’t (I’m not sure anyone’s going to remember Boris getting stuck on a zipwire in twenty years’ time) but that’s the way it goes with parodies.
A fun bitesize bit of nostalgia and self-aware sarcasm, I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!