“It wasn’t a bit of good fighting grown-ups. They could do exactly as they liked.”
Day Twenty-One: The First Novel You Remember Reading
A memory test? That wasn’t part of the deal!
All the books that I read as a child tend to blur into one – that is, I don’t remember them on a timeline, or anything like that. I can name some early novels, but almost certainly not the first one…
…although if there ever was a first, it was probably in the region of Five on a Treasure Island, the first book in Enid Blyton’s seemingly interminable Famous Five series. For those of you who’ve never encountered this classic British institution, the Famous Five were a gang of four children and a dog who went round solving crimes and generally Having Adventures. Words like “plucky” and “jolly” (as in “jolly good” or “jolly lucky”) get tossed around a lot, often in conjunction with exclamation marks. The words “good clean fun” spring to mind.
They were actually given to me as presents by the Grandparents: every time I visited them I would be given a lovely centenary-edition, hardback copy of a new Famous Five book. I can’t remember what exactly I thought about them, but it must have been fairly good since I distinctly remember trying to buy one for myself and being told not to because of the Grandparents. (This conversation may have ended in a tantrum.)
Wikipedia, the Fount of All Knowledge, tells me that there are 21 books in the Famous Five series, and I’m not sure I believe it. There always seemed to be about a million (all, incidentally, the same, because you don’t care that much about character development when you’re six). I know I read at least fifteen, and possibly eighteen, and still never got to the end. But I do still have those books. Every one. So someone, somewhere, must have done something right.