Title: Famous Five #6: Five on Kirrin Island Again by Enid Blyton
Summary: What is Uncle Quentin up to on Kirrin Island? He won’t let anyone visit—not even the Famous Five! But he’s not alone on George’s island—somebody is watching his every move! Can Julian, Anne, Dick, George and Timmy the dog find out who and warn Uncle Quentin?
*sigh* I’m really sorry, but I hate this one. This is the book I’ve been dreading, and hoping it wasn’t allocated to me. I don’t know why – it’s not particularly different to any other book in the series. Maybe it’s the fact there’s a silver tower constructed on the island, maybe it’s a lot about the adults, or maybe there’s just not enough godamned lettuce. Who knows?
Let’s do this thing.
(Also, I started this recap a month early because I knew it would drag hard.)
(For reference, the kids’ ages should be roughly: Anne: 13; George and Dick 14; Julian 15.)
This one starts with the girls still at school, and George receiving a letter from her mother saying that her father wants to borrow her island to stay on and do experiments. George doesn’t take this particularly well, of course.
“It’s just like grown-ups; they go and give you things, and then act as though the things were theirs all the time. I don’t want Father living on my island, and building nasty messy sheds and things there.”
I can’t help but side with George here, although our situations are very different. My mother bought me a tape/CD/radio player combo for one of my birthdays, and then proceeded to take it out of my room and put it in her workspace. Any time I was able to get it back, it was always tuned away from my radio station of preference, and rather damaged from her careless handling. And this was back in the day when such a piece of kit was a lot more delicate. (This is one of many stories – if that story was my only teen angst, I’d hope to be a lot more functional as an adult.) [Necromommycon: Ugh, now I’m angry on both your behalf and George’s. That is so unfair. It’s bad enough when children get given things they can’t use yet; I’ve had to put away things sometimes for when my kids are older, for instance. But just TAKING the thing and using it for myself would be mean.]
George adds that she was hoping that the Five could stay on it over the Easter holidays, like they had previously, because they all know it’s lovely in Easter time. I’m fairly sure that in the previous books they said that they couldn’t get to the island in Easter because the weather was awful, and I’m not sure there was another Easter available.
*several hours later*
Ok, so what this required was a spreadsheet, and with that I’ve established that this is the fourth year they’ve been together, not third, so actually, they could have conceivably done this.
However, the text outright contradicts that possibility.
- Year 1: Book 1 started in the summer, so the cousins will not have seen the island at Easter.
- Year 2: Book 3 outright states that the weather was too bad to go to the island during the Easter holidays. (“Shall we go to Kirrin Island, George?” asked Anne. “Do let’s! We haven’t been there since last summer. The weather was too bad in the winter and Easter holidays. Now it’s gorgeous.”)
- Year 3: Book 5 has a HURRICANE DESTROY KIRRIN COTTAGE DURING THE EASTER HOLIDAYS.
- Year 4: Now.
Anne reads the letter, and it’s actually quite amusing. Aunt Fanny says that Quentin thinks George will be delighted to lend her island to him, but Fanny knows better. Still, she must learn to share, especially because it’s for important scientific discoveries.
Side note: Quentin’s scientific work is even more scatter-gun and vague than Ned Wakefield’s law discipline(s). [Necromommycon: Yes, I’m actually really confused as to how he supports his family from this. Or DOES he? Are they all living off a family trust or something, and the science is his hobby? Because I can’t imagine who pays him, or why he’s always working from a lab at home like in a 1950s horror movie.] [Wing: Now there is an alternate universe I’d love to read.]
Anne says that she’d be delighted to lend her island to her father, if she had an island. She also gently points out that George is a bit prickly, and maybe she needs to grin and bear it. Anne wonders if they could maybe stay on the island even if Quentin is there. George scornfully points out it won’t be half so fun, because her father is a grump. This tickles Anne, who pictures him shouting at the birds to be quiet.
George gives a watery smile but isn’t really mollified, so Anne suggests she take Timmy for a walk and cool down a little. This is actually very good advice and it works. I don’t think anyone’s mentioned it here, but Anne is actually quite good at handling George’s moods, whether deliberate or not. In book 3, she indirectly manipulated George into putting on a brave face because she was upsetting Tim. She’s actually much better at cooling George’s upsets than Julian, who tends to get bossy with her. Anne = secret manipulative genius?
When she gets back, she sneaks Tim into her dorm and then finds Anne, who is writing to Julian and Dick to let them know about the island. She offers for George to stay with them for the Easter holidays, but George says no for two reasons: 1) her mother will be all alone without Quentin; and 2) her father is working with explosives now, and she’s worried he’ll blow up the island.
Sadly, the book’s not half as interesting as the last sentence implies. Wing, calm down. [Wing: Damn it, why must this book get my hopes up so?]
George manages to keep Tim in her dorm for a number of nights before being found out. And then in a few paragraphs, term is over, it’s home time, and the Easter holidays have begun!
Oh god, Blyton’s on fire. We’re on chapter 2, and the girls meet up with the boys in the train station and immediately head off to buy buns and ginger beer. Smuggler’s Top (LET IT GO, WING) [Wing: NEVER!] was a bit of a washout for food porn, Caravan was back on track, and I’ll take this as a good sign too.
They talk about Kirrin, which prompts George to scowl. Dick teases her about it, and Anne rushes to her defence, rightly noting that George is still touchy about it, and winding her up will just make everyone miserable.
Julian looked at his cousin. “I say, old thing, you’re not going to take this business of Kirrin Island too much to heart, are you?” he said. “You’ve just got to realise that your father’s a remarkably clever man, one of the finest scientists we’ve got—and I think that those kind of fellows ought to be allowed as much freedom as they like, for their work. I mean—if Uncle Quentin wants to work on Kirrin Island for some peculiar reason of his own, then you ought to be pleased to say ‘Go ahead, Father!’”
George looked a little mutinous after this rather long speech, but she thought a great deal of Julian, and usually went by what he said. He was older than any of them, a tall, good-looking boy, with determined eyes and a strong chin.
I like the fact that George looks mutinous about this. And I don’t see why she has to be happy about it. It’s happening whether she likes it or not, they could just drop the subject and let her just get used to it without being preached to every time it comes up.
[Wing: Julian and Dick are both insufferable in this book. And what a terrible idea, that clever men, successful men, rich men, famous men, etc. etc. etc. should be allowed as much freedom as they want, for their work or otherwise. Gross.]
Next up is a squicky bit where Anne admires the manful way that Julian orders porters around and finds them seats on the train. She asks him if he’s grown, and he says she’ll never catch up to them because they’re older, but he likes her small. With lines like this, I’m now starting to see why Julian/Anne was such a strong pairing back in the day. [Necromommycon: And may I just say EWWWW. Which is slightly odd as I usually don’t object to incest pairings or even necessarily to D/s overtones, but Julian is just already so damned bossy and privileged in the text that I balk at the idea of romanticizing it in fic.] [Wing: … … … … … I did not need to know that. (I am not surprised, but I did not need it confirmed. Julian is horrid in this book.)]
Also, that’s bullshit about Anne never catching up with their heights. I’m sure at some point I was taller than Wing (I’m exactly six months older than her, so at the very least, when I was born, she was only 3 months gestated, and I was definitely taller than 10cm at birth), but she’s shot past me by a foot and then some. [Wing: I’d give you at least the first six months of gestation. At least. *g*]
Aunt Fanny meets them at Kirrin station with the pony trap. On the way home, they see the island, and Quentin has constructed a tower, like a lighthouse, with a glass dome at the top. George, naturally, hates it and says it’s spoiling the island. And she’s probably right. I’m wondering at what point buildings and places attain listed status and place a block on any building work around the area. Then again, temporary structure. Also 1940s.
Aunt Fanny reassures her that it’s very flimsy and will be torn down as soon as Quentin is finished with his work. She adds that she worries about him, he might be missing meals. Or blowing himself up.
Julian suggests that Quentin signal her every morning and evening to show he’s ok. Fanny asks him to speak to Quentin about this when they visit the island, because Quentin will listen to him. Sure, why would he listen to the woman he chose to marry and raise a child with, when a teenage boy can explain it better? [Necromommycon: Urge to kill: rising.] [Wing: Same. Someone is going to blow something up by the end of this book, but it won’t be Quentin blowing up the island.]
George says she’s not sure she wants to see the island with the tower on it and it doesn’t feel like hers because her dad is living there. Anne even has a go at her about it. Jesus Christ, kids, just let her feel the way she feels. You might think she’s being a selfish brat, but that’s how she feels. She’s not insisting her father vacate the island, she’s not sulking in her room, she’s not threatening to run away, she’s just saying “This is how I feel” and you lot are all poking fun at her. GO FUCK YOURSELVES. [Wing: Exactly. People are allowed to feel how they feel. It becomes a problem when they take that out on other people, but you lot are doing that to George, not the other way around at this point.] [Dove: Having read ahead a bit (for the first time since the early 1990s), I think this is going to become a thing, along with Anne being shamed for having housewife qualities, George gets shamed for reacting to things, even though her reactions are valid.]
George then tells her mother that she won’t make a fuss about it when they go to the island – and to be honest, I really don’t think any of the text said that she would. Julian then patronisingly tells her that she’s being such a boy when she gives in gracefully.
Fuck off, Julian.
George glowed. She liked Julian to say she was like a boy. She didn’t want to be petty and catty and bear malice as so many girls did. But Anne looked a little indignant.
“It isn’t only boys that can learn to give in decently, and things like that,” she said. “Heaps of girls do. Well, I jolly well hope I do myself!”
Aunt Fanny tells her to stop arguing and look at the flowers around the cottage. For fuck’s sake. Anne just wanted a bit of recognition that it’s not only boys who can be decent. Also, the above exchange is a good argument against the “George is trans” theory. It shows that Blyton has a deep bias against behaviour that she considers to be feminine – bitchiness, spite, caring about appearance (which she considers equal to vanity), being elegant (equal to feebleness), etc. In fact, she finds most undesirable traits to be exclusively feminine. George wanting to be a boy isn’t because she knows she’s a boy and her body is not obliging, it’s because she doesn’t want to be associated with the downsides of being a pointless girl. George falls under the heading of ~not like other girls~ in this case.
Me, I’m open to either interpretation, it depends on my mood as to how I read her, but I understand that Blyton herself was not particularly open-minded, and would probably be quite alarmed that her favourite self-insert was being read as trans.
[Wing: Fuck off with that “not like other girls” bullshit, Blyton.
Also, I love a tonne of things about this video.]
The kids get home, and Anne confides to Dick that even though Quentin being on the island has scuppered their plans, she rather likes him not being in the cottage, because he’s so grumpy and demands such quiet.
Then they have hot scones, fresh from the oven. I’m not really sure I can get behind that. I prefer my scones room temperature.
The next day they decide to go to the island. They discuss the tower again, and Fanny says she doesn’t really know what it’s for – nobody does. Quentin designed it himself, and some fishermen brought over the resources, and some people knocked it together, but everything’s rather hush-hush.
“It’s all very mysterious,” said Julian. “Uncle Quentin leads rather an exciting life, really, doesn’t he? I wouldn’t mind being a scientist myself. I want to be something really worthwhile when I grow up—I’m not just going into somebody’s office. I’m going to be on my own.”
“I think I shall be a doctor,” said Dick.
“I’m off to get my boat,” said George, rather bored with this talk. She knew what she was going to do when she was grown-up—live on Kirrin Island with Timmy!
Fuck off, Julian. Worthwhile is not the same as having your own company. Also, George, your idea is by far the best. You should try to make Kirrin Island its own country, that would be amazeballs.
When they set off, they see James the fisher boy, who allegedly kept Timmy before George was allowed to keep him at home. Except in book 3 he was called Jim, which isn’t a major name change. But he was called Alf in book 1, which is nowhere near the Jim/James names. Seriously, Blyton, you’re six books in. Pay attention.
Once they reach the island, they see the tower. It’s described as being fitted together in sections of smooth shiny material. Um… sheet metal? Spandex? Cling film? Who knows. It’s incredibly vague, as is its purpose.
“Can anyone climb up inside the tower?” asked Dick, turning to Aunt Fanny.
“Oh yes. There is a narrow spiral staircase inside,” said his aunt. “That’s about all there is inside the tower itself. It’s the little room at the top that is important. It has got some extraordinary wiring there, essential to your uncle’s experiments. I don’t think he does anything with the tower—it just has to be there, doing something on its own, which has a certain effect on the experiments he is making.”
To quote Buffy, wanna vague that up for me? Also, it’s “too complicated” for Anne to follow. No, Anne, it’s not you. I once got an email saying, “Can you build a spreadsheet for my stats?” I replied that of course I could, what did she need? “Something for my stats,” was the reply. I pressed on, and sent about eight emails asking what she wanted specifically. She would only ever respond with “Something for my stats.” Eventually, I sent her a spreadsheet where every single cell contained the word “stats”. As the icing on my sass-cake, I attached my feedback form and asked her to provide feedback to my manager.
(Funny story: she actually did. She said I was outstanding. I can’t work out whether she was the vaguest human on the planet, or the best troll I’ve ever worked with. Not only that, the story mutated, and someone in IT told it back to me and attributed it to a girl who got fired for it. I’m a fucking urban legend at a top-tier law firm. #Winning)
The bunnies are out in full force, and this proves too much for Timmy, who bounds after them, and gets a telling-off from George. They then explore the castle area and wonder where Quentin is. They point out various rooms he could use, and this flies in the face of Run Away Together, where they had even considered living on the wreck because there was literally no safe room for them to use.
Fanny says that each time she’s come to the island before, he’s met her at the cove and they’ve had a picnic on the beach. They call for him, and search, and even prepare to go into the dungeons, before Julian notices that weeds are growing up around the slab of stone, which means nobody’s opened it for ages – also, why and how would it be closed over if Quentin’s in there? They check the cave they stayed in last time, and then try the tower.
Note: Anne suggests this, and Julian replies “scornfully” that he’d have heard them yelling. Julian is very scornful towards Anne. Actually, everyone is. And actually, I don’t think it’s a totally daft idea, I feel that Quentin has two modes: “EVERYONE SHUT UP, I’M CONCENTRATING!” and “Oh, did the house just catch fire? I didn’t notice. I was engrossed in my work.” Clearly he’s not in Mode 1, which means he must be in Mode 2.
They try the tower and clarify that it’s made out of some kind of lightweight, yet strong, plastic. They all agree they’d worry it would blow down in a gale. Given that last Easter a hurricane launched a tree through Kirrin Cottage, they’re lucky the weather’s so nice.
They go up the tower, and there’s much description of wires running up the sides on hooks and such-like, but since they didn’t explain Fanny’s illness from book 3, I doubt it matters much. It’s just set dressing because science. Julian wonders if the wires are for radio waves or radar. Sure. Why not? It’s not like we ever get a full explanation of anything.
The room at the top gives a magnificent view across the bay, but no sign of Quentin. The tower wobbles when there’s a gust of wind, and Anne says she wants to go back down. She also nearly falls down the spiral stairs when Timmy pushes past her at high speed. And if I hadn’t lived in the house I do now, I wouldn’t have mentioned that tiny detail. Now we live in a very tall terraced house, our stairs are really steep. Our cats go downstairs at quite a lick because otherwise gravity will cause their back-ends to overtake their fronts, so the bit about Tim was a nice detail.
Everyone sits down to have their picnic, and while the kids are very curious about Quentin’s location, Fanny waves it away, saying he’ll eventually turn up. Apparently he did experiments in the caves in Cheddar, and was perfectly fine. I haven’t been to Cheddar Gorge since I was little. I seem to remember it was awesome.
“It’s very queer,” began Anne, and then stopped suddenly. A curious noise came to their ears—a rumbling, grumbling, angry noise, like a giant hidden dog, growling in fury. Then there was a hissing noise from the tower, and all the wires that waved at the top were suddenly lit up as if by lightning.
Fanny is happy to hear this, saying she heard it last time that she came to visit. They continue eating, and Anne suddenly squeals as she notices Quentin standing by the tower, looking up at the jackdaws. (Also, Jackdaw is a good name for the next family member we need to keep anonymous. Wing, make a note.) [Wing: Noted.]
When he notices them, he looks quite cross and says it’s a surprise to see them. Fanny says no it’s not, she wrote it in his diary, so he would know they were coming. He says he hasn’t look at his diary for days. Possibly the diary is not the best idea then. Maybe notes attached to the tower door?
The kids naturally ask where he came from, but he says vaguely that he was in his workroom. I genuinely can’t remember what happens here, mostly because I kept skipping this book on my read-throughs as a kid, so wild stab in the dark: there’s a hidden passageway under the tower that leads to the dungeons/part of the castle that was previously inaccessible? Wing? Necro? What were your guesses? [Necromommycon: He’s using the tessaracts from A Wrinkle in Time, and has been off yelling at those kids bouncing their balls in unison. Also, the working title for this book was A Wrinkle in Tim. ] [Wing: Teleportation. I was really, really hoping for teleportation. Barring that, tunnels. And now I have laughed fizzy water up my nose, thanks, Necro.] [Dove: A+ for A Wrinkle in Tim.]
Kirrin is like a sandbox game. The longer you play, the more areas become unlocked.
Quentin gets very cross when they say they were in the tower. He says that he keeps it locked because he wants nobody messing with his work and it’s dangerous. Julian says the key was in the lock, and Quentin’s quite relieved about that, because he thought he’d lost the key.
He then starts demolishing the food they’ve brought with them, and Fanny realises that he’s been so busy working he’s not stopped to eat in god only knows how long. Anne asks about his work, and Quentin says that one of the reasons he chose the island – aside from being surrounded by water – is that he worries someone’s on to his work, and since nobody but George and a few fishermen can get to the island, he’ll be nice and alone there.
Except every book featuring the island has a whole bunch of smugglers/kidnappers/general bad guys who are able to land on the island without wrecking their boat. But sure, you’re safe. Nobody ever comes to the island except for George.
Throughout the entire conversation, Dick keeps butting in to ask where Quentin’s workroom is. Fanny tells him to leave Quentin alone, Quentin says what’s it to do with him, but Dick keeps asking. Eventually Quentin tells him that he’s not as clever as he thinks, if he believes they really searched everywhere.
I never thought I’d say this, but: Go Quentin! That was very satisfying.
Aunt Fanny then turns to Julian and asks him to ask Quentin to signal to her twice a day. Why? Because MEN DON’T LISTEN TO WIMMINS, AMIRIGHT? Because that’s literally the only reason I can think of. Oh, wait. Or maybe she’s incredibly shy. I remember tugging at my mum’s hand and hissing, “ask her!” on my first week of primary school, when I was too shy to invite my new best friend to my house for dinner.
Fanny adds that if he doesn’t signal, she’ll visit every day. Anne adds that they’ll come too. So why did Julian need to ask? It seems to me that the girliest members of the group have got his measure.
Quentin agrees to signal at 10:30 (morning and evening), six flashes – mirror in the morning, lantern in the evening). Then he basically throws them off the island. They were meant to stay to tea, and the kids definitely wanted to spend more time on the island, but Quentin won’t have it. He also tells them not to visit again unless he says it’s ok.
As they row away in the boat, they try to see where Quentin goes, but fail miserably, but they do see a cloud of jackdaws fly into the air and wonder if that’s a clue.
The next day is rainy, but the kids don’t care, so they go for a walk along the cliffs. They discuss how Quentin can’t signal during bad weather (can he not use a torch?) and George says he won’t bother trying to find another way, they’ll just have to wait until 10:30pm. Anne asks if she can stay up that late to wait for the signal – Anne is thirteen, by the way, so it’s not really that late. Dick arrogantly says that he and Julian can stay up late, but “you kids” have to go to bed. George is indignant because she’s nearly as tall as him. Because that’s what counts. Height. Not the fact she’s the same damned age as Dick.
The weather is horrible, and they comment that they must be the only people out it in. Two seconds before a man and a boy walk into their view.
The children took a look at them as they passed. The man was tall and well-built, with shaggy eyebrows and a determined mouth. The boy was about sixteen, also tall and well-built. He was not a bad-looking boy, but he had rather a sullen expression.
Look at the description there! We’ve just met our bad guys.
They exchange greetings with the strangers and move on. Julian suggests they go to the coastguard’s cottage on the way back. And Anne greets him by his job title, and continues to refer to him as such. I’d love that. Random kids coming up to me and saying, “Good morning, analyst.” (That’s not actually my job title. My actual title is so mystifying, the first thing out of everyone’s mouths after being introduced to me is, “And what is it you do?”)
Coastguard, who clearly doesn’t deserve a name, tells them that new people have moved into the cottage next door, Mr Curton and his son – the same people they met earlier. He suggests Julian make friends with the boy, because they’re about the same age and he doesn’t know anyone. But he is a bit quiet and sulky. The kids then look through the coastguard’s telescope at the island and start to walk home, again discussing what a mystery Quentin’s workspace location is. Honestly, in this book, Blyton really needed to ask herself, “Does it advance the plot?” It would cut down on the faff.
They bump into the boy, and get talking. He compliments Tim but makes no move to pet him, as most people do, and Tim doesn’t really interact with him either. Clearly he’s a bad guy. He asks about the island, and George, flush with compliments about Tim, says it’s hers. He asks if she’d take him over to it, but she says no, because her father is working on an experiment there. Before she says much more, Dick rudely butts in and asks what’s it got to do with him. Everyone is surprised by the rudeness, and the boy (still no fucking name) says nothing, he just hoped Dick’s brother would take him over to see the island.
Is this the smartest bad guy we’ve ever seen? Compliment the dog, compliment the island, mistake George for a boy, BOOM. INSTA-FRIENDSHIP.
Mr Curton, who is not named either – it’s all “the boy” and “the man” – comes over and asks about the island too, saying that he asked the local fishermen about visiting it, and not one of them appeared to know a safe way to the island. The kids are surprised, since pretty much EVERYONE can get to the island, then they remember that Quentin has instructed everyone to stay away. Mr Curton also adds that he doesn’t want to go to the island, he gets seasick – and this is the smartest criminal in Blyton’s history. Which, admittedly, isn’t saying much. He does tell them his boy is called Martin though.
As they leave, Mr Curton invites them to come back, as he has a TV set. George, in particular, is intrigued by this, as she’s never seen a TV before.
On the way home, George wants to know why Dick was so rude, and he says that they were showing too much interest (still “the boy” and “the man”, despite knowing they’re Martin and Mr Curton). George says of course they’re interested, everyone is, and she liked him.
Dick points out – rightly, but not wisely – that she liked him because he mistook her for a boy. He also adds she’s a very girlish-looking boy. Gosh, he’s really living up to his name in this book, isn’t he? [Wing: Pummel him, George. Fly at his throat, Tim. Someone do something because Dick and Julian are terrible. Even Quentin is less horrid than they are.]
Julian breaks up the ensuing fight, and tells them to calm down. They do slightly, but still continue to discuss things. Dick says that Tim didn’t like Martin, and if Tim doesn’t like someone, that’s good enough for him.
George says that Dick’s overreacting, and probably Tim didn’t jump all over Martin because he’s so quiet. Tim is smart enough to read people that way.
Dick gives up and to end the argument. They agree to go back to see the TV, but Julian cautions them not to say anything about Quentin’s work, just to be on the safe side. He also belittles Anne for not knowing he meant “very important person”, when he called Quentin a VIP.
The Anne-hate is fucking strong in this book. She’s not my favourite character, and I get infuriated when she loudly yells right after being told to whisper, but she really doesn’t deserve this constant abuse. It feels like every line said to her is said scornfully, chides her for being a child, calls her names (baby, kid, etc) or actively tells her no matter how grown up/tall/clever/whatever she gets, she’ll never be as grown up/tall/clever/whatever as the others. Just fuck off, all of you. Remember book 3, when you couldn’t work out what the smugglers’ plot was, and Anne figured out it was a kidnapping? Also, those three would find life considerably harder if Anne didn’t plan the meals, hang clothes up to dry, and keep everything tidy for the others during the adventures. [Necromommycon: There really needs to be a book called Anne Goes on Strike.]
That night, Julian asks if he and Dick can stay up to watch for Quentin’s signal, and Fanny says no. Which is bloody gratifying, after all of Julian’s lofty tones about being the only one old enough to stay up until half-ten. Julian’s 15, 10:30pm is hardly late at that age. Also, he’s old enough to be responsible for the other three whenever they go on holiday parent-free, but 10:30 is a step too far? Fanny says he can keep an eye out if he reads in bed, but he should go to bed as usual.
Anyway, Dick and Julian do manage to stay awake to count the flashes of Quentin’s signal that night. The girls? Nope. They’re tired. It’s six. Fanny comes in afterwards to check with him, because, silly girl, she forgot to count them.
The next day they decide to go to the quarry on/by/over the moor. The boys want to look for ancient weapons, and Anne decides that while the boys do that, she and George will pick flowers. Anne, I know she’s your cousin and you know her better, but I’d bet my wages George will be looking for weapons, not flowers, once you all get to the quarry.
They wait for Quentin’s signal before they set off. Once they reach the quarry, Julian immediately lectures Anne on being careful, otherwise she’ll break a leg. Apparently nobody cares if Dick or George break a leg. Julian obviously won’t, because he is amazing.
They find Martin at the bottom of the quarry. They introduce themselves properly and say they’re searching for stone weapons, and Martin says he’s there for the same reason. Dick tries to be friendly to make up for his behaviour the previous day. He suggests that Martin join them in their gravelly patch, because he won’t find anything in the heather.
Tim starts digging around a rabbit hole, and his vigorous digging throws up an arrow head, which hits Julian in the face. Julian is delighted. I am too, but I’d be more delighted if it drew blood. Julian, Dick and George exclaim over how wonderful the arrow head is, but Anne thinks she wouldn’t have known what it was (because girl) and Martin just turns away. He’s now losing points on fitting in with the kids.
Dick thinks Martin is boring an unsociable, and hopes they shouldn’t feel obligated to invite him to join their picnic. George, on the other hand, immediately invites him. George, what is up with you? He says he likes Tim, but hasn’t fussed him. Don’t you know the dog is always right? Martin looks pleased and invites them to come and watch his TV that afternoon as a way to pay them back.
Well damn, I may have to hand over my wages. While the text isn’t exact, it certainly does imply that not only is George picking flowers with Anne, she’s quite excited about how happy it will make her mother when she brings them home to her. [Wing: On the one hand, she does love her mother quite a bit. On the other hand, I zero percent believe George prefers flowers to weapons.] [Dove: This. So much this. George will be polite to the Stick family for her mother’s sake, but flowers may be a step too far if the other option is weapons.]
When they eat, Martin blurts out a very awkward sentence: “Best sandwiches I’ve ever tasted,” he said. “I do like those sardine ones. Does your mother make them for you? I wish I had a mother. Mine died ages ago.”
This provides the exact kind of awkwardness that I used to loathe as a child. Actually, I would lie and say my parents were separated and my dad lived in Milton Keynes (no idea why I picked there), rather than admit he was dead, because people were so awkward about it.
The kids give him the best of their food after he says this. Martin then says he saw Quentin’s signal last night. Dick protectively asks how Martin knew it was a signal. George instantly blabbers that of course it was, anyone could see that. He signals at 10:30 am and pm, six flashes, mirror in the morning, torch at night.
Holy god, George. I really hope there will be a bit more kindness towards Anne if she accidentally blurts information in front of the wrong people.
Most of the kids fall asleep after lunch, while Tim turns his attention back to the rabbit hole he’s been digging at.
George doesn’t fall asleep because she notices that Tim is missing. She checks out the hole he’s been digging, and it’s now large enough for Tim to have slipped through, but not George, she has to dig it out with a trowel.
Once she burrows in, it opens out to a proper cave. She hears a whine, so she knows Tim’s in there somewhere. She finds him and crawls back out. Her cousins are awake by then, and suggest they all explore the cave, but Dick insists they don’t, and Julian backs him up, realising Dick doesn’t want Martin along with them.
Julian says they’d better make a move if they want to see the TV show Martin suggested earlier – he didn’t in the text, but agrees, so that must’ve been off-screen.
I think my beef with this book is that it has a lot of filler bits that could be scrapped, and some stuff that could be expanded with an edit, and instead it’s got a very raw, “Look! I just finished NaNoWriMo!” feel to it. And unlike NaNo, this didn’t have to be written so fast and be completely unrevised.
They go and watch TV with Martin and Mr Curton, who shows them his radio setup, which he built from scratch. They’re all very impressed that it both sends and receives signals. Mr Curton then asks them to stay for tea. After calling Fanny to let her know, they have dinner. Mr Curton is very jovial, while Martin goes all quiet and sulky.
Possibly, he’s very like Wing and me, and just reaches a point where he’s had enough socialisation and needs to cool his brain down by not participating. I get ringing in my ears when I’ve had enough of being around people. [Necromommycon: When I’ve spent a whole day around people, being invited to do anything that evening makes me feel like bursting into tears. Even if it’s people I like. ESPECIALLY if its people I like, in a way, because I know myself well enough to know I’ll be quiet and probably won’t look like I’m enjoying their company because I’ve wasted all my day’s peopling abilities on other people.] [Wing: It’s fab traveling with Dove and Raven because Dove understands too much socialisation and Raven is great about giving people space.] [Dove: First thing in the morning, there is pure silence until Raven gets up. Occasionally Wing or I will offer each other a drink. The big sign that talking is ok is if I go for a cigarette and Wing joins me.]
Talk turns to the island, Quentin and his experiments. Mr Curton read all about them finding the gold in the dungeons, and then muses that Quentin must be doing his experiments in the dungeons too. George quickly corrects him, and gets kicked by Dick for this. She glares and carries on, and Dick treads on Tim’s tail to make him whine. He says Tim’s too hot and he and George take him out of the room, where he admonishes her for spilling secrets (“just like a girl” – um, Anne’s said fuck all about their secrets) and confirms he deliberately trod on Tim’s tail to get her attention.
George gets in a rage about this and says she’s taking Tim home. [Wing: PUNCH HIM, GEORGE. PUNCH. HIM.] Dick says that’s for the best. He goes in, makes apologies for George having to take Tim home, and then starts talking to Mr Curton to find out all about him. Unfortunately, that’s all the information we get – a sentence saying Dick did that. I’m sure they’ll rehash it later.
On the way home, they discuss what’s happened. Anne tells Dick off for hurting Tim, whereas Saint Julian laughs. Prick. Dick says at first he thought Mr Curton was a spy, but now they know he’s a journalist (show, Blyton, don’t tell), he thinks he just wants to do an article on him. They find it underhand that he’s manipulating them for information, rather than admitting he’s a journalist and asking them for information.
They buy some bones for Tim at the butcher on the way home as an apology, and then Dick says he’s sorry to George. She thaws a little when she sees he’s bought Tim bones, but says not to speak to her for the rest of the night. It’s ok, she’ll get over it, but give her space. I actually like this. This is how I feel after an argument. It’s all done with, we have the resolve, but my emotions are still a bit stirred up, so let me settle. [Wing: I love this too. It’s very smart of George, and I love that she’s so self-aware about it.]
The next morning, Julian has to watch for Quentin’s signal because Fanny is off to see the vicar. Which sounds like a euphemism. Oddly, there are eighteen flashes. The kids wonder if it means danger, Julian says no, he’d flash SOS if that were the case. And George delightfully squashes him here, by pointing out her father doesn’t know Morse Code. Julian says he expects Quentin has run out of food or something.
They wait for Fanny to get back, and then head to the island. Once they arrive, Quentin is delighted to see the food they’ve brought over, and demolishes the food. When asked about why he signalled eighteen times, he says he has the feeling that he’s not alone on the island. (A small part of this is coming back to me, but I don’t want to say, in case it’s the wrong book and I spoil later books for Wing, so I’ll just let you know at the end of it whether I was right or wrong.) [Wing: Thank you! Also, if he’s in danger, why in the world would he do 18 flashes instead of, oh, three?]
Quentin says that last night around 3am, he heard someone cough, and he found a cigarette on the island, but he doesn’t smoke. They are all stymied, as how could someone get to the island without being seen? Quentin asks George if he can borrow Tim while he’s on the island.
Let’s just highlight the key word here: asks.
This must be bloody serious if he’s realised that he needs to ask his headstrong kid before taking her favourite things.
George says no.
Well, she says that she and Tim have never been separated (what about that year when your parents made you get rid of him?), so she must stay with him. Quentin says no to that. As they’re both hot-headed and stubborn, both fly into a rage.
Fanny settles things by saying that Tim must stay with Quentin, and George may not stay. It’s bad enough her husband is in danger, she’s not letting George be in danger too. If they could ask Tim, she would be sure he would protect George’s father, even if it made him sad to be away from George. Tim then moves to Quentin’s side, as if he understands every word said. Magic dog.
George has to walk of the sadness and anger, but she knows it’s the right thing to do.
They talk amongst themselves while George is on her walk, and Anne asks if Quentin is building a bomb.
Her uncle looked at her scornfully. “I wouldn’t waste my time inventing things that will be used to kill and maim people! No—I’m inventing something that will be of the greatest use to mankind. You wait and see!”
QUIT WITH THE MOTHERFUCKING SCORN BEING HEAPED ON ANNE. Fanny actually told them that Quentin was working with explosives. There is nothing wrong with her being worried. That sentence is fine, Quentin, but it should be reassuring and warm, not cold and scornful.
[Wing: Agreed. I love that he won’t invent things to maim and kill people, but fuck out of here with that scorn for Anne.]
George comes back and makes the condition that Tim can stay with Quentin if he takes Tim up to the top of the tower each time he signals. Quentin agrees, after a bit of sass, and then they leave the island.
They get home and the weather starts to turn. This prevents them from heading to the quarry to check out the mysterious passage they found yesterday.
They don’t know what to do, until Anne – yes, that pointless girl – suggests they dig out the old map of the island, and see if they can find Quentin’s mysterious work area. Julian praises her, which makes her glow with pride.
After much scrutiny, they remember that there were two entrances to the dungeon, they only found one. Perhaps Quentin has found the other. There are steps on the map, and they always assumed they were near the stone room they originally stayed in on their first visit to the island. Am I remembering this wrong, but I was convinced that room had caved in, which is why they had to live in the cave in Run Away Together.
They worry about Quentin, alone on the island. Julian says at least he has Tim, who could protect him from anything. “Not if they had guns,” George says. That’s fucking depressing.
They decide to walk up to the coastguard’s cottage. George says she wants to look through his telescope to see if she can see Tim. Julian suggests she try her “field glasses” at the top of the house. I spent a really long part of my childhood wondering what field glasses were. I got that they were something like binoculars, but I assumed that with a different name they must be slightly different. Like, maybe they were green, or even more waterproof, because they were for real outdoorsy purposes (as opposed to the indoor need for binoculars? WTF child!Dove?). [Necromommycon: Hey, cut child!Dove some slack. When I was a child I literally saw people use binoculars to spy on their neighbours. Maybe that’s just a Newfoundland thing? Specifically a Newfoundland Grandmother thing? But either way, those were obviously indoor binoculars, kept behind the curtain on the window ledge for that specific purpose: dainty ladylike spying.] [Wing: I’ve seen that in the USA, too, so creepy indoor binocular spying.] [Dove: I was about to mock your countries, then I realised the only reason my country doesn’t need binoculars to spy on the neighbours is because it’s so much smaller and everything is so much closer. The phrase over here is “The nets are twitching.” (the net curtains are being moved aside so people can spy).]
She can’t see him, so it’s off to the coastguard’s cottage to look through his telescope.
This time the coastguard is making toys for his grandson. Martin was going to come by and paint them – he’s very artistic – but he had an accident. It looks like he slipped and fell somewhere. I’m guessing quarry.
They look through the telescope but can’t see any sign of Quentin or Timmy, then they decide to go visit Martin. Dick says he won’t be a… well, dick. George says she won’t blab any more secrets (are there any left to blab?), and Dick congratulates her for acting like a boy.
So far: Julian is patronising; Dick has been rude and deliberately hurt a dog; and George has been blurting out whatever she’s been told not to.
Anne, on the other hand, has been polite but reserved, and came up with the good idea to check the map for places Quentin could be. And she’s not hurt an animal.
So perhaps, on reflection, being a girl is significantly better than this book implies.
They went through the front gateway of the next cottage. As they filed in, they heard an angry voice.
“Well, you can’t! Always wanting to mess about with a brush and paint. I thought I’d knocked that idea out of your head. You lie still and get that ankle better. Spraining it just when I want your help!”
Adult-on-kid violence? Check. Dick wonders how a person who usually sounds so friendly can sound so harsh when they’re angry. Dick has led a fucking charmed life. Pretty much everyone sounds scary when they yell in true anger – also, yelling in anger shows a lack of control, which in itself is very scary.
When Mr Curton stomps off, they go in and ask Martin how he hurt himself. He says he let it slip to his father about the passageway in the quarry, and he slipped and fell into the quarry. The kids are dismayed that an adult knows their secret, and I don’t blame them, given all the angst Quentin put them through in book 1. On the other hand, George has been blurting everything inside her head this book, so she’s hardly one to talk.
An awkward silence falls, and Anne asks if he’s bored lying on the sofa by himself. He says yes, he’d love to paint the figures for the coastguard, as that’s what makes him happy – being artistic. Anne is enthusiastic and says she’d love to be an artist herself.
“Anne! You can’t even draw a cat that looks like one!” said Dick, scornfully. “And when you drew a cow I thought it was an elephant.”
Yet more scorn. She was being nice.
Martin actually smiles at Anne and offers to show her his pictures. He has to keep them hidden because his father hates art. They turn out to be beautiful. The subjects of the pictures are flowers, trees, birds, etc. Blyton comments that this is rather “queer” choice for a boy. Martin, like George, might be better off now. I think he’d be a brony.
Martin tells them that he ran away from school and joined an art school, but his father found out and dragged him home and forbade him from drawing ever again. Art is a “weak, feeble thing for a man to do.” They feel sorry for him and ask what they can do to help. He asks if they’ll got next door and fetch the figures and the paint, so he can paint while his father is away. He invites them to stay for dinner too.
Anne sits next to him and watches in awe as he paints the figures. I kind of ship it. Blyton has shown the difference in Martin when he’s not sad and bullied. And you can see why he would have told his father about the passage in the quarry – when everything he does is displeasing to his father, he’d definitely try something more manly like, “Hey, I was looking for old weapons (RARGH!) in the quarry (*beats chest*) with other boys. And I found a cave which I want to explore because BEHOLD HOW MANLY I AM!”
Oooh, food. George makes dinner (because why would Dick or Julian?): bread and butter, honey, chocolate cake, ginger buns and some kind of hot drink. Thank you, Blyton.
Martin is having a grand time and asks George where Tim is, since he goes everywhere with her. For once she doesn’t blurt out everything, despite this being the one time where Martin is behaving warmly towards them, and this actually feels like the start of a friendship, rather than just people hanging out.
At the end of the evening, they take the figures and paints back and tidy up after dinner. They’ve had a nice time, but don’t want to hang around when Mr Curton gets back, now they know he’s a bully to Martin. Martin thanks them for coming over, and Julian tells him to stick with his art, because if he feels he has to do it, then he should go all out. It’s actually a nice thing to say and not really all that patronising, considering the source.
The next day, George runs off to the coastguard’s cottage to look through the telescope when her father signals. The rest stay home, so when she runs back all a-fluster, it’s a surprise. George thinks something’s wrong – Tim wasn’t with her father when she signalled. Everyone else thinks it’s more likely that Quentin forgot to leave the door to the tower open and Tim’s stuck at the bottom.
She desperately wants to go to the island and check on her beloved dog – she’s sure her dad is fine – but the others talk her out of it.
The kids venture out to the quarry, but decide they’re risking broken limbs (Martin was lucky to only sprain his ankle) trying to get down to the passageway, so decide to go for a walk. George says she’s feeling ill, so they should go on without her. Anne offers to go home with George but is turned down.
It’s like they’ve never meet George before.
Naturally she heads home, grabs a load of food and then races off to her boat where she asks James/Jim/Alf to make sure her boat is ready for 10pm, leaves some food in it, then races home.
The kids wonder what’s up with George who’s very agitated.
Again, it’s like they’ve never met her. She’s away from her dog, and she has a history of running away from those three because she doesn’t want to get them in trouble.
At bedtime, she waits until Anne falls asleep, and then sets off for her island. James/Jim/Alf says if she hits a rock, row as fast as she can in case she starts sinking. Of course, George doesn’t scrape a single rock, and lands on the island safely.
She makes her way to the store room, since she doesn’t know where her father is.
She turns on her torch and searches for a hidden entrance, but can’t find anything. She resigns herself to sitting down and waiting. She hears a thud and a cough from the fireplace recess in the room (who knew that was there? Not me). Then a man speaks and is answered by another man. Neither of which are Quentin.
The men don’t notice her in the dark, and head straight out. George investigates the fireplace and finds an opening that leads to steps. After a moment of deliberation, she decides to go down the steps and try to find Tim and her father (that is the order in the book – Tim first).
The passageway is very very long, there are skinny bits, low bits, more rough steps cut into the rock – it goes on so long that George thinks she might be under the sea itself. And yes, this is what I was thinking of when I said something was coming back to me. She hears an odd sound and realises that it is the waves, she definitely is under the sea. She feels a little panicked at the thought of it collapsing in on her – and yes, I feel this. I hate: the dark, water, and tight spaces. This is all three. [Wing: On the one hand, I love walking through things under the sea. On the other hand, those things are generally glass tunnels and this sounds horrifying.]
She remembers her father needed water all around him for his experiments to work, so maybe this is where he’s working, with water literally around him.
She finds herself in an enormous cave (she must be really deep underground for this to happen) filled with wires and machinery, which must be her dad’s workroom. Then another smaller one. Then a large cold cave. Then she sees a small light in the distance.
In the cave with the light she finds her father sitting at a table, but there’s no sign of Tim. Her father says they have about an hour if the men have gone to the tower. They parachuted on to the island, and they want to know about his research, which is trying to find a replacement for coal and oil – which in theory he would give to the whole world, and not hold over people’s heads, but the men want to sell it off to the highest bidder.
George just keeps asking about Tim, who tried to eat the men this morning when Quentin was ambushed by the spies. Quentin says Tim was choked when they got a rope around his neck, but he’s alive because he saw them getting dog biscuits to feed him.
That’s all she needs to hear, she’s ready to go off and find Tim, but Quentin asks her to find his notepad, take it to the mainland and never let it out of her sight until it gets to an address he gives her. The spies have a vague knowledge of his work, but not everything, and if anything happens to him, that notebook will explain enough for the good guys to pick up his research.
She says it’s an awful responsibility, but she’ll do it. He in turn says she’s just like a boy and he’s proud of her, which is adorable. Just as she’s leaving, it occurs to him that his daughter randomly rocking up in the middle of the night is a rather odd occurrence, and asks her about it. She says she’ll tell him later when things are a bit less life-and-death.
She takes the notebook, then moves on to find Tim in another cave blocked off by a boulder, which is almost too heavy for her to move, but then her DOG MAMA POWERS kick in, and she heaves it out of the way. She and Tim have a tearful reunion. She checks his neck for wounds – there’s a swelling, but it doesn’t seem to be bothering him.
There’s a voice in the dark threatening to shoot whoever let out the dog, then they fire a gun to prove they’re serious. And I’m reminded of the time Linda Hamilton went deaf in one ear because she forgot to put her ear protectors back in after a break in filming Terminator 2. They fired a gun in an elevator and she is permanently deaf in one ear.
That kind of shit never happens to bad guys in books/movies.
Also, there is no fucking way I’d fire a gun in a cave. Especially if it was under the sea.
George thinks about what to do, and worries that she has her dad’s notepad on her. She gives it to Tim to hold in his mouth and tells him to run and hide. He runs off away from the men, continuing down the tunnel under the sea. So I can only imagine he whizzes past Quentin who may find himself thinking, “Has that dog got my book?”
The men find George and decide that she’s a boy, and she’s too small to have set Tim free with that huge boulder in the way. They take her back to the cave her dad is in, and they ask how she got there. She tells her story and even the criminals love her.
The three men listened in silence. “Well, you’re a tiresome nuisance,” one of the men said to George, “but my word, you’re a son to be proud of. It’s not many boys would have been brave enough to run so much risk for anyone.”
The criminals make Quentin an offer: hand over the notes and they’ll give him a bundle of cash and let him and George live; or they blow up the island and everyone dies. Quentin and George even comment on how idiotic that plan is because option B is of no benefit to anyone.
The men leave them to discuss things. Quentin says that he’ll have to hand over his book, because he can’t have George killed. She says Tim has the book. If they call him back, he can take down the spies. She then asks why he never tried to save Tim, he says because he didn’t want to leave his notebook.
She goes down the tunnel and calls out for Tim, but he doesn’t come to her. She goes a bit further, but it quickly turns into a maze, so she heads back to her dad and reports the situation. They find this quite alarming.
Back on the mainland, Anne wakes up too hot, and whispers to George to see if she’s awake. At this point she realises that George isn’t there and she’s gone to the island. She wakes up the boys, but there’s nothing they can do while it’s so dark. Julian decides he’s going to give George a telling-off when she gets home. Fuck off, Julian. Let her parents parent her.
Julian can’t sleep, but hears someone climbing in the window downstairs. He goes down and finds Tim there. Tim gives them the notepad. At this point they decide to wake up Aunt Fanny.
Anne thinks that Tim is trying to tell them something (Tommy’s in the well?), and Julian bossily decides that they’re going to investigate it, and Aunt Fanny needs to wake up their cook so that they have hot food to come home to. Who the fuck do you think you are, kid? You’re bossing the lady of the house, and ordering her to wake up the cook several hours early because you might have the munchies later? Ooookay then.
Tim leads them, not to the beach and George’s boat, but to the quarry, which surprises them. Even more surprising, Martin is in the quarry when they get there, surrounded by gardening spades. Julian aggressively asks what’s going on, and says that George is missing.
Martin is actually surprised to find out that George is a girl, not a boy, and is very sheepish about the whole thing. Julian asks if he’s going to explore the passageway with his father, and he says yes. Julian tells him it’s their exploration and they’re not going to let Martin or his father in. Arrogant little brat.
Martin looks upset, and Anne goes to him and asks him what’s going on? Her kindness reduces him to tears, and everyone is very embarrassed by a boy crying. Julian handles this with tact and diplomacy by telling him to pull himself together and start talking.
Martin burst out that Mr Curton is not his father, he has nobody who cares for him – presumably his parents are dead or abandoned him – and Mr Curton is his guardian, but makes him call him father while they’re “on a job together”. They do all sorts of bad things, extortion, receiving and selling stolen goods, and tagging along with even worse bad guys to make up the numbers. Martin’s very concerned because this job is the worst, they’re planning to blow up the island.
The bad guys won’t be able to get away because they don’t know their way through the rocks – for fuck’s sake, this is a really bad plan. Here’s a better one: put George and her father in the tunnel under the sea and use a small explosive to cave it in (rather than enough to blow a fucking island to kingdom come): either they suffocate, or they drown depending on whether the roof holds. The bad guys can be picked up by someone clever enough to boat to the island. Even the fucking Stick family managed to get on the island, and they were grade A morons.
Martin says he and Mr Curton believe that the passageway in the quarry leads to the island.
Julian asks him to lend them the spades and the torches – apparently there are now torches too – and all four of them will go and save the day. Martin is touched that he’s allowed to join them. And Mr Curton won’t be able to follow, because he doesn’t have a torch.
Actually, fuck that, Anne’s not coming. Her vagina will only slow them down. Anne agrees that her vagina is incredibly slow, and says she’ll go and tell Fanny what’s going on. [Necromommycon: I am LOLing bitterly.] [Wing: D.Y.I.N.G.]
The boys take off down the passageway and Anne heads for home. As she’s going up the quarry, Mr Curton comes down. He falls and breaks his leg, and as he lands he locks eyes with her. He asks her to fetch help and has she seen Martin. Anne calls back that he’s a “very wicked man” and she’s not going to fetch help for him. Then she speeds off as fast as her vagina will allow.
Tim leads the boys without pausing through the maze of caves under the sea. They have to use the spades to dig at some point, but mostly they get through painlessly. They meet up with George and Quentin and exchange stories.
When it comes to what to do next, they decide against using the passageway to get back to the mainland, because they assume Mr Curton will be on his way through, or he will have been in contact with the spies by wireless and they’ll know something’s up. Instead they decide to sit down and wait for seven hours until the men come back and attempt to overpower them.
That… is a rather passive plan.
Thank god the spies have snuck back in. Tim didn’t hear because George had been stroking his ears. They ask again if Quentin will hand over his secret, and he says no. So they plan to blow up the island, then walk past everyone down the passage under the sea.
Wait. So these morons knew that they put their prisoner in a room with a fucking way out that comes out right near his home?
Quentin says if he can get to his tower, he can stop the explosion. Unfortunately, the spies are moderately competent and have jammed the mechanism that controls the opening into the stone room of the castle. They don’t want to use the tunnel under the sea in case the explosion destroys the roof and they drown. Quentin doesn’t mention that they’re going to suffocate either way, but I’d choose the not-water death too, so I can’t really complain.
Thankfully, Anne has fetched the fishermen and the police, and they’re on the island and on the other side of the wall, and ready to save them. YAY.
JUST GOT SAVED BY A FUCKING GIRL.
Quentin pushes past his saviours and runs up the tower to disconnect the power source and save them all from the impending explosion.
Martin is quite blue by now, because the adventure is over, and he worries he’ll have to go back to Mr Curton (unlikely, that dude is going to prison). Julian says that they’ll make sure everyone knows that he chose to help them, not his guardian, and they wouldn’t have gotten through the tunnel without him. Which is quite nice.
They leave the island, and all but Fanny, Anne and Martin head to the quarry to fetch Mr Curton and wait for the other spies. Quentin can’t wait to gloat that their plan failed, but is thwarted by the fact they’re lost in the maze of caverns under the sea.
They have to send Timmy in to fetch them.
So, Quentin gets to gloat, then they head home for breakfast, which is cooked by Joanna, who’s been up since silly o’clock because Julian demanded it.
Quentin says he’ll arrange for Martin to go to art school, but until then he should stay with the coastguard (I really hope someone asked the coastguard if he’s ok with that) and hang out with the kids, especially when they go back to the island.
George asks if they can go stay on the island and watch the tower be torn down. Fanny says sure, she wants a bit of alone time with Quentin anyway (SHAGGING!), so that’s that.
Everything is fucking marvellous.
Also, in my headcannon, which isn’t in the book, Martin sends Anne a picture of the island from art school. They start writing letters to each other and develop a friendship/romance. [Wing: Oooh, I like this bit. Headcanon accepted.]
I still don’t like this book. It was so bitty. I know all the bits added up to a whole, but it really didn’t feel like an adventure. Anne says as much in the final chapter – she didn’t notice it was an adventure until now. She’s right. Everything feels like filler.
Also, the Anne-hate was amazingly strong in this. I’m pretty sure that nobody but Martin spoke to her in a respectful tone. Dick and Julian were insufferable, Fanny distracted her by showing her flowers or giving her chores, and I don’t think George said a word directly to Anne after they left school.
Anne was actually really cool in this book, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed unless I was recapping it. Every few minutes someone was putting her down for being the smallest, the youngest, the girliest, just being Anne in general. However, it was Anne’s idea to look at the map to find Quentin’s workroom, it was Anne’s kindness that broke down Martin’s walls, it was Anne’s quick thinking (and quick running) that got the police and fishermen to Kirrin Island in time to save everyone.
ANNE. FUCKING. ROCKS.
[Wing: I generally like Anne, but she was extra amazing in this book, and Julian and Dick were terrible. What the hell, Blyton. Now that they’re getting older, will all your engrained sexism ruin this series for me?]