Book Review: Five on Brexit Island by Bruno Vincent

Five on Brexit Island (Enid Blyton for Grown Ups)Five on Brexit Island by Bruno Vincent
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes, you just want a book to chill out with rather than tax your heart or your mind. For that reason I picked up my two ‘Enid Blyton for adults’ books, bought for me as a Christmas gift, and decided to plough through them. They were obviously going to be playthings.

I’ve finished the first – this ‘Brexit Island’ story – and now I’m 100% a fan!

There’s two main reasons:

Firstly, the story is brilliantly written by Bruno Vincent. Witty lines abound on every page and he’s caught the spirit of the Blyton books superbly. It was a wonderful satire on that awful period of silliness known as ‘the referendum’ in the UK and having the whole thing played out by children throws the spotlight on just how downright childish it was.

The second reason though is simply one of nostalgia. By using original drawings and using Blyton’s language carefully, you could almost believe you’re reading a genuine book from that era. I was probably the last generation of children to enjoy the Enid Blyton books before, suddenly, they were no longer allowed in schools. Dismissed as racist, promoting middle class value stereotypes and a number of other issues, the books were all but banned leaving many of us baffled and upset.

When I had children of my own in the early 2000s I was happy to dig out one of my own Blyton books – an early collection of simple stories. I read one to my baby daughter. I read only one, then put the book away. For once, the political correctness brigade had got it right. I was astonished by the prejudice against people who are ‘different’ and blatant message that the best thing you can give a child is a damned good beating. How did we all manage to miss this?! I won’t say I felt sick to my stomach, but it was a cruel moment in my life to realise just what it would mean to ‘get our England back’, as so many white middle class Britishers chanted during the Referendum.

Nevertheless, my nostalgia for the books, for the reading times in junior school, for late nights reading our books at home by street light out of the window so mum wouldn’t know I was still awake – all this is still held fondly in my heart of a more innocent era, even if not all that tolerant. It seems fitting that Vincent has subverted the Blyton style and turned it into cutting satire on the modern world. In a sense, he has redeemed Enid from her (no doubt unconscious) crimes against society and made her something good again.

I honestly can’t wait for more!

View all my reviews

Writer and journalist D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Ken has two new books coming out over summer – don’t miss them!

Sign up for Ken’s new writing project – ‘The Pukur’ – at Patreon.

Both ‘The Old Man on the Beach’ and ‘Sonali’ are available on Amazon for kindle and paperback. Published by Shopno Sriti Media.

D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at dkpowell.contact@gmail.com

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