Children of Cherry Tree Farm

I was in my grandparent's home. For some reason my cousins, uncles and aunt had gone somewhere leaving me alone at home. Only my grandparents were around and I was getting bored. I started to poke around the house and suddenly came across an Enid Blyton - the last thing I ever hoped to find in my grandparent's house where no one read any fiction. Turns out it was a prize won by aunt during her school days and she was still keeping it. This was like 1989 and my aunt must have won the book like 15 years back - so like 1974. Not really that vintage but still a book that had been acquired brand new and been with its first owner for 15 years. And yes - the book was Children of Cherry Tree Farm - the story I completed another read couple of days back. I started to read the book and I was totally enthralled.
I was sucked into the English countryside. Rabbits, hares, squirrels and hedgehogs began to surface before me as if summoned by google virtual reality. Only it was 1989 and even mobile phone and internet was not commonly in use. So one had to depend on one's imagination for magical summoning. And Tammylan! What a man. If there was any fiction character I have longed to meet it had to be Tammylan. He was such a wise, knowledgeable man. How much fun to know someone like him who teaches you all about the ways of the wild. At a later age, when I read Walden by Thoreau I was reminded of Tammylan. I wonder if Thoreau inspired Blyton for the character of Tammylan. One dichotomy I usually found in Blyton's books was the characters' love for animals and love for animal meat based food existing at the same time. But not so with Tammlyan. Though it is not mentioned explicitly it is almost evident that he is probably vegan. Not strictly so - he accepts cheese, creams etc. from the children. But clearly milk and eggs are not part of his regular diet and definitely not meat. Like the children in Secret Island, he doesn't trap rabbits and barbecue them. How could he! They were his friends.
I was the same age as Benjy. So obviously he was the character in whose shoe I found myself in. And he is the one who is there for most of the story. Except for the bits where Penny goes off by herself. Benjy's birthday treat chapter was that filled me with delight not only the first time but every subsequent time I read it. Every time I was down in the dumps, all I had to do was to pick up that chapter and re-read it and my spirits would rise.

Also this story is unique in the sense that it has no plot, no conflict as such. There are the four children and the book is like a description of their life - a biography of sorts. And the detailed descriptions of animals could almost make it non fiction. Later I learnt Blyton was a keen naturalist. Still every time I read it, I enjoyed every bit of it. That is one of the charms of Blyton's writing - she brings events to life complete with all the associated emotions. Not too many authors manage this feat that successfully.

As I went from chapter to chapter, there was a thrill as to what would be the next animal we would meet. And there was always some nice drama associated with the chapters and Blyton's characteristic humor.

Cutting back to my real life, after reading it I just could not part with the book. My aunt was kind enough to let me take it back with me though it was a prize she had won at school. The book remained with me for 14 more years. Most of the 2000 s I had stopped reading Blyton and moved on to other fiction. After all I was a working adult. So I let my mother give away my entire childhood book collection to the local school library. I thought I was done with Blyton.

But no! In 2014, suddenly I began to feel nostalgia for Blyton again. I managed to acquire a Kindle version of this book and enjoyed it all over again. And then again now after another 7 years, I read the audio book. I find still the charm has not worn off. I wish though I had not let my mother give away my books. I vividly remember the stories associated with each and every book and holding the book in my hand would have been more powerful in rekindling the memories. But then it is the story that matters more than the book.

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces