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Five Go Adventuring AgainReview by Nigel Rowe (July 5, 2005)
The second volume in the Famous Five series sees the five, once again, congregate at Kirrin Cottage, for the Christmas holidays.
Anne and George receive a letter from "Daddy" at her school, Gaylands (how quaint!), telling her that they can't go home for the holidays due to "Mummy having Scarlet Fever and that he (Daddy) is in quarantine." Imagine not being at home for Christmas! Even worse, Anne's mother had invited George and Timmy to her house for Christmas, so Quentin and Fanny didn't appear to even want their own daughter home for Christmas. What a strange family.
However, this sets the scene for the Five to be together again at Kirrin.
More illness (this time to Julian and Dick at school) means that they are to be given extra coaching by a tutor, as they have fallen behind in their work. It is down to Quentin to engage one.
The girls leave for Kirrin, and the next day the boys arrive. The Five are complete again!
Quentin finds a tutor and tells the children that they will like him. He says "He knows how to handle youngsters-knows he has to be very firm..." Poor old Quentin, he really doesn't understand children! The Five go to meet Mr Roland off the train, and Dick and Julian like him. When he realizes there is a dog, he doesn't seem too pleased. George isn't too keen on being called "a little girl" by him, and doesn't speak. When Julian commands Timmy to shake hands with Mr Roland, he slowly and deliberately turns his back on Mr Roland and climbs up into the pony-trap!
Later the children meet Mr Sanders, from Kirrin Farm. He says that he and his wife have two guests staying with them–artists from "London Town". On visiting the farm, the Five discover a secret panel in the hall. They also learn of a cupboard with a false back. They find a pouch and an old rag with marks and signs on it.
Mr Roland's obvious animosity towards Timmy makes George furious. Worse, he insists on calling her Georgina. She is determined not to like him! Although Anne does not need any coaching, she joins in anyway so the Five can be together all the time. During the tutoring they find out from Mr Roland that the Latin inscription on the rag they found means "Secret Way". They later show him the linen rag, and he insists on going to Kirrin Farm with the children to explore very soon.
On hearing noises in the night, George goes down to her father's study and finds Mr Roland there. As Timmy snaps at Mr Roland's ankles, Quentin makes him live in his kennel outside. George is now livid and absolutely hates Mr Roland, refusing to cooperate in his lessons. She also refuses to accompany the others on the planned trip to the farm because the tutor says he is going too.
Then Timmy develops a nasty cough, and the tutor refuses to have him in the house at all, as a punishment to George. The others now start to dislike him as well. Then papers from Quentin's study go missing and test tubes get broken. Mr Roland thinks that George may have had something to do with it...
The mystery develops in true Blyton style, and without giving any of the outcome away, all the ends are tied up in the usual way.
Although this book develops nicely, it is made rather too obvious that Mr Roland must be a villain. Timmy's dislike of him is probably the strongest here, out of all the books. There are the usual coincidences—parents' illnesses, a third party having to appear, and so on. In this book a tutor is employed, providing the bad guy with a handy base to engage in criminal activities in the local area. In the very next book, Five Run Away Together, the Sticks are employed, conveniently providing a handy base for their local criminal acts.
I nevertheless enjoyed this book in spite of the glaringly obvious plot. Although the first part of the book made me want to shout, it develops well enough; and the second part becomes a well constructed story. I felt much happier when the Five were all in the same mind about their tutor. I really don't like it when George is left out on a limb, with seemingly everyone against her—except old Tim, of course. Certainly not my favourite story by a long way. However, it is only the second book in the series and is still a good read.
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