Friday, 21 June 2013

Fiction Reads: The Ragamuffin Mystery by Enid Blyton

As I bask in the pleasantness of the Monsoon and before I go for an immediate seaside holiday, I stumbled upon a really light read: The Ragamuffin Mystery by Enid Blyton. And what a thrill it was to read this at leisure! It spells holidays and adventure from the first page itself. I also liked what Barney, one of the main characters in the book had to say about the concept of a holiday - "Well -  I  hate modern holiday spots where there are crowds of people. I would rather go to some quiet old place - where we can laze about in old clothes, do exactly what we like, and not have to bother with anyone else at all." This is is the central theme of the book; although it is a book for children (for eight years and above), it is a page-turner for adults too. What is beautiful in this book is the description of Penrhyndeudraeth (what Blyton referred to as Penrhyndendraith) in  Wales - "It was a truly picturesque place, a fishing village, with a dozen or so old cottages built along the seafront and others straggling up the slope of the hill behind." Further 'Round the coast they went, with the splashing sea on one side, and the mountains on the other - for now the hills had grown higher, and some of them towered up into the sky'.

From the Barney Mystery Series or the R Series, as each title starts with the letter 'R'; this story includes Roger, Diana, Barney and his pet Miranda; Snubby and his pet Looney; and Miss Pepper. Roger and Diana are siblings and Snubby is their cousin. Barney is their friend while Miss Pepper is a family friend to Roger and Diana's parents. They holiday in the Welsh countryside by the Penrhyndendraith Inn (Miss Pepper and Diana stay there) while the boys retire to their caravan to sleep at night. The spot is idyllic and the inn is illustrated as 'a strange old place with curious turrets and towers. It was set right against a cliff-like hill, so that the back of it had no windows at all. Some of it was falling to pieces, and it looked in places as if only the ivy held it together'.

The descriptions in the book create a deja vu feel; illustrated by Eric Rowe, The Ragamuffin Mystery is a cool and read. It was first published in 1951.

(Article by Kabita Sonowal)

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