It's the return of the mini review! The last time I wrote one was in May, 2007! A blog reader Terri Green has inspired me to start again. She asked, in an email, if I had written any mini reviews of my favourite Noel Streatfeild books, as I'd promised in one of my posts. I had to admit I hadn't - oh, the shame! Well, I'm going to, Terri, and here's the first:
Three children (siblings Edward, Sorrell and Wish) are sent to Cornwall to spend six weeks of the summer with their uncle Murdock as the cousin they usually stay with during the holidays is ill (their parents are abroad).
They are quite anxious at the thought of staying with Murdock as they have never met him. Murdock used to live in Livia (a fictitious country) where he assisted in toppling the monarchy. Murdock then worked as chief of staff of the dictator Manoff. A counter-revolution resulted in his return to his mansion in the West country.
At Murdock's mansion, the three children find that they are treated like prisoners. They are watched and guarded at all times and have no contact with the outside world - forbidden access to newspapers and the radio.
Their suspicions that something fishy is going on are confirmed when they hear a child crying in the gardener's house!
This is quite unlike most of the other Streatfeild books I own, which are set in the world of dance and/or theatre. It's more like an Enic Blyton mystery. In fact, it is very like Blyton's The Secret of Spiggy Holes, which is also set in Cornwall and features kidnapped royalty.
However, although the characters in Cornwall don't dance, act or sing, they are still recognisably Streatfeild creations, and this means they are much more developed than Blytons ever are. For example, although Sorrell is a young lady who is quite house-proud and motherly - like Anne in the Famous Five series - her character, unlike Anne, is an active one, and there is some attempt to explore her personality and develop it in tandem with the plot.
I do like corny mysteries with flashing lights and strange sounds in the night, mysterious strangers and pesky kids who are always able to outwit the grownups. Another book I am reminded of whenever I re-read Cornwall is Blyton's The Circus of Adventure, which features yet another Ruritanian royal. These stories require a huge suspension of disbelief, but this comes quite naturally, even automatically, to me when I enter such worlds as are featured in them.