Enid Blyton
Comments 41

What An Adventure.

I’ve got too much going on.

Way too much.

I blame the invention of Page Tabs or whatever those things are called, which let you have dozens of internet pages open at once. My curser is flicking between them like a fly on speed.

Right now I have three different university websites open: two Discussion Board’s and a lecture that I keep pausing to do other stuff. I have four WordPress pages open: two with draft posts for this blog, one on the homepage of my other blog, and one open onto the Reader. I’m trying desperately to catch up on over a week of missed posts. I also have my email open, an online thesaurus open, a website of local movie times…and ok, I’ll admit it, Facebook is open too. Bloody Facebook.

Every now and again I get completely frustrated and close everything.

Do you want to close all tabs or just the current tab?’ CLOSE ALL TABS, DAMMIT!

Ahh, that’s better. Now, let’s do one thing at a time. Ten minutes later, I’m back to those itty bitty tabs that let you squish twenty open pages onto one screen.

Anyway. I am currently working on three separate review posts for this blog, because I am too distracted to follow and finish just one. Maybe I have adult ADHD? Or maybe I should stop pounding extra large unsweetened black coffees. That could be it. It also doesn’t help that I am reviewing a fantastic yet highly un-motivating book by Tom Hodgkinson, How to be Idle. I have decided to leave that review for the weekend, simply because of the idleness inducing factor that you, my readers, do not need in your lives mid-week. You’re welcome.

So after another of my little internet related tantrums, during which I closed every page without saving (which I later regretted), I ventured outside to soak up the requisite ten minutes of sunshine you need each day. And while I sat there, picking freshly grown sweet peas off my gorgeous plants and enjoying the unfamiliar pleasure of warm sun on my face, I thought, stuff it. I’m over it today.

I’m not going to finish polishing off my humour sketches for Writing Humour. I’m not going to work on my PowerPoint presentation for Engaging in the Humanities. I’m not going to watch the rest of the lecture for Sociology, and I’m not going to finish the reviews I’m currently writing. It can all well and truly go and hang out in the ‘Some Other Time’ pile.

Instead, I am going to have a huge cup of calm down, while simultaneously shaking this blog up. I am going to review a wonderful book. A truly outstanding book. A book which has impacted the lives of millions of people worldwide. A book which I first read roughly twenty-one years ago, but which I can still conjure up as though I read it yesterday.

My friends, I am talking about Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood.

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Is there a greater book out there. Rhetorical. No way. It has everything, fantasy; emotion; adventure; suspense; comedy; relatable characters and The Three Bears. I read it again a few months ago for the first time in fifteen years, and what struck me was how vividly I remembered it. It felt like coming home, entering that familiar forest with the trees that whisper secrets. There is something so real, so believable, in the magic that Blyton captures on the page. I recall a passionately in-depth discussion I had with some friends not long ago, regarding our favourite land at the top of the tree. Unsurprisingly, the Land of Take What You Want was a popular choice.

‘It’s a marvellous land,’ he said. ‘You are allowed to wander all over it and take whatever you want for yourselves without paying a penny. Everyone goes there if they can.’

Naturally, Blyton keeps the story grounded in enough morality and good behaviour that the fantasy doesn’t become too much. These lovely children, given access to everything they could possibly desire, choose hens, a spade and a goat. All practical things to help their struggling parents. Probably not an overriding quality found in many children of this generation…

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Another thing that struck me was Blyton’s use of language. It is adorably quaint, full of words and phrases that would be considered most old-fashioned by today’s literary standards.

‘Good gracious!’ she said. ‘It’s growing horse chestnuts just here! What a very peculiar tree!’

‘This is a most interesting and exciting tree,’ said Bessie, finishing her cake. ‘Jo, I think we ought to go now, or we’ll never get to the top.’

This entire book is a testament to Blyton’s wonderful imagination. The story is extremely well thought out, each individual character and scenario in the book work closely together to create this believable yet fantastical Enchanted Wood. Characters which appear only briefly at the beginning reappear at the end as an integral part of the story, such as Mr Whiskers and his troupe of brownies. The whispering of the trees, first noticed by Bessie on the fourth page, turns out to have major significance later on. The children discover the trees are actually talking, and the trees help them to defeat the Red Goblins. This level of detail and forward planning is rarely evident in what is generally considered to be children’s literature.

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Blyton also brings to life well-known nursery rhyme characters. Every child can quote (to the point of boredom) the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Blyton takes us beyond the nursery rhyme, letting us in on the fact that Goldilocks now lives with The Three Bears, as part of their family.

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‘Does she always live with you now?’

‘Always,’ said the father bear…’she just chooses any of our beds, you know, and we cuddle up together then. But she likes the baby bear’s bed best, because it’s so soft and warm.’

‘She did in the story,’ said Fanny.

‘What story?’ asked the mother bear.

‘Well – the story of the three bears,’ said Fanny.

‘Never heard of it,’ said the three bears.

Despite the fact that this book is written for children it was no hard task picking it up again. I was worried that it would come across as simplistic and a little boring, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is that return to the blissful days of childhood that make this such an enchanting (sorry) read, it reminds me of a time when life was simpler and ‘computers’ were something that we heard about on the news. Except no one expected us to watch the news, so we read Enid Blyton instead.

Anyway, I have meandered down the garden path and up the Faraway Tree long enough. I suppose it’s time to head back to the real world, and leave the magic of Moon-Face and Silky, talking dolls and honey filled Pop Biscuits behind.

But if you ever need a break from the reality of our harsh daily grind, I hope you will grab yourself a copy of The Enchanted Tree, some cookies and a glass of milk (or wine) and sink back into that wonderful world that Enid Blyton created so long ago.

Turn off the computer.

You will be glad you did.

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41 Comments

  1. ~xtian says

    The Enchanted Wood!
    Ha – I read that when I was six – and read it and re read it.

    • It is truly a fantastic book isn’t it! I read it so often that it is imprinted on my mind…as I discovered recently 🙂

  2. What an excellently crafted review. Mind you, I can’t imagine an amount of coffee that would be a bad thing, but your sojourn from the internet seems to have proven fruitful. I’ve never read “The Enchanted Wood”. I shall have to.

    • Please do Sahm! Yes it’s children’s literature but it is a timeless classic. Who doesn’t love reading about fairies and pixies and rabbits and snowmen and magical lands and trees that talk.

      • I have no problem reading children’s literature (courtesy of my lady), not one. And the way you describe it, I feel like I must have missed out on one thing when I was a child. Of course I have to rectify that. 🙂 And you can’t go wrong with talking trees. That just enhances my fondness for trees, because, lord knows how I wish trees actually could speak… Could you imagine how many forests would be standing right now? At least, I hope they would be…

      • Very true. You are going to LOVE these books then! I’m actually jealous, I wish I was reading them again for the first time 🙂 let me know if u get hold of them, I would be very interested to hear an opinion from someone who doesn’t have the associated child hood memories!

  3. justlaura73 says

    I’ve never read The Enchanted Wood, but I definitely want to now! I love your writing style, by the way. Very witty. I don’t know if I’ve read your posts before, but I look forward to seeing more from you. Cheers, and keep writing! I think I’ll get myself a nice big cup of coffee tomorrow and just sit back and read, all thanks to you. 🙂

  4. Excellent post – I think we can all relate to the problem of having far too many tabs open…..and I love your solution. I read all of the Enid Blyton books as a child and they still have a certain magic today. It’s just a shame that her life didn’t reflect her writings.

      • Her home life wasn’t what you would have imagined it to be – there have been some documentaries on it over recent years. The life that she portrays for her characters is not how her children’s life was at home. I should read up on it – although it may colour your views of her. She was still a genius author though. 🙂

      • Wow it sounds really interesting! Ill be looking into this further for sure. Stay tuned for a post into controversial authors 🙂

  5. I read tons of Enid Blyton when I was a kid, only I seem to recall that my version of this particular book was called The Faraway Tree. (It might have been a follow up. It was centuries ago now.) I have to admit, my favourite book of hers was Binkle and Flip. I don’t know why. I just liked anthropomorphic rabbits I suspect.

    • Yes I have that one as well, it is the sequel when the children’s cousin Dick comes to visit! The Folk of the Faraway Tree. I have to admit I have never read Binkle and Flip, I shall have to now. I think I will have to start an Enid Blyton collection.

  6. Ciara_H says

    I used to love this book when I was younger and still do today. I picked it up again for my thesis on Harry Potter and Blyton’s Wishing Chair and Faraway Tree series and could remember everything as soon as I started reading. The whispering trees, the slippery slip and the snacks they used to have with Moon-Face & Silky….It’s an amazing series. Great review!

    • I was just thinking today that it would be really cool to write a thesis/dissertation on these books! What was your topic? It sounds awesome!

      • Ciara_H says

        It was an examination of the fantasy worlds in HP, the Wishing Chair series & the Faraway three series so the three chapters focused on gender roles & family life, the uses of magic & how they differed etc and how the 2 authors used primary and secondary worlds in their texts. Researching it was so much fun & it was so hard narrowing the topics down for each chapter. Looking back I could have easily done the whole thing on magic in fantasy worlds- there was that much material on it. 🙂

    • For some reason it won’t let me reply to your second comment, so I’ll reply to it up here 🙂 WOW! That sounds like an amazing topic for a thesis! I can imagine how much fun you had researching it. I’m going to keep Enid Blyton in the back of my mind for my thesis…if I ever get that far 🙂

  7. curt Mekemson says

    I got hung up with “a fly on speed.” 🙂 It is such a good analogy for our modern day Internet adventures. I think I’ll go read a good fantasy. –Curt

    • Haha thanks Curt. Yep it’s always worthwhile to log off and delve into a fantasy world. Good for the soul, I say 🙂

  8. Oh my goodness, you were describing ME! I think I will look up this book … and close out all the open tabs.

  9. Ramona says

    I can relate to the open tabs. Sometimes I feel I am trying to do so much that I never get anything done. I think I need an adventure, maybe with some bears. Great post!

    • Thanks Ramona. Blyton is a really good way of escaping all those open tabs…the best part is the books are so easy to read you can delve into fantasy world and still have time to get your work done!

  10. OMG these are some of my favourite books. Have you noticed that modern reprints have renamed some of the characters? Dick and Fanny have been changed to Rick and Frannie. Dame Slap has become Dame Snap (and no longer practises corporal punishment). It made me wonder: to what point is it permissible to tinker with classics in the interests of political correctness? While you ponder on that one I’m off to read Moby Rick.

    • Wow! No I had no idea! I am definitely going to investigate this further…political correctness is the babe of my life. I think it is NEVER ok to alter classics, especially when they were written in such an innocent manner. I am learning a lot from these comments, I might have to do an entire post on blyton now! Thankyou 🙂 enjoy Moby ‘Rick’

      • Ha and while you ponder THAT I should point out that PC is the ‘bane’ of my life, not the ‘babe’.

  11. I 100% agree with you. I felt…cheated, and as though my memories of reading these books with such innocent delight had been pilfered, or tainted in a way.

  12. erickeys says

    I’m never going to clean out my reading list if you keep suggesting such awesome sounding books. Please reduce the amount of wonder and whimsy you bring into the world – perhaps by 15%.

    • Haha that’s the intention! My reading list takes me well into my 80’s and beyond…blame the authors for such incredible literary works. ‘Wonder and whimsy’ – I am truly honoured if I can bring even a smidgen of this into the world!

  13. Pingback: The Controversial Enid Blyton. | The Paperbook Blog

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