Six Cousins Again
By Enid Blyton
Evans Bros, 1950
This is the second Six Cousins novel, the first being Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm. If you read them out of order, don't fret, Blyton has you covered with a bulky and narratively awkward info dump. Before reading further, be warned, this review contains spoilers for the first book.
At the end of Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm, all the city cousins' problems are solved when their father -- who had been raised as a farmer -- buys a nearby farmhouse. This makes everyone very happy except for Aunt Rose, the city cousins' mother, who is very much a city girl. This story will focus almost entirely on the adventures of the city family adapting to life on the farm, and we will see very little of the other three cousins.
We see a lot of farm life and there is some farm-based adventures, but for the most part this is the story of Rose refusing to adapt to farm life; refusing to do any farm work, sleeping in late, avoiding any advice from her neighbors, and spending money that the family does not have on party dresses and fancy food. This is rather unusual in children's novels, in that it focuses largely on adults squabbling, while the kids just make do. Eventually Rose realizes that she is being selfish and breaking her family apart, and resigns herself to being a good farm wife, and all is well in the world.
Despite the rather blunt moral message of the story, this isn't as old-fashioned or anti-feminist as it sounds; Rose is a bad wife, mother, and person because she is unwilling to pull her fair share and think of others, and not because she is not being a perfect housewife. The message isn't that women have their place, but that if you are not pro-social, you will be disliked, even by your own family. That said, the message is very blunt, and hammered home in no uncertain terms. Also, this is not to say that the book is without politically incorrect subtexts; gypsies, we learn, are vile thieves and spiteful vandals with no redeeming features.
Overall, this was not one of Blyton's best works, and has not aged well... and even so, it wasn't a bad read. There's some good character development that was either lacking or overly heavy-handed in the first book, and there's enough going on to distract the reader from the hokier bits of drama and moralizing. If there had been a third book, I'd quite like to read it, now that all the big drama is sorted out and the characters are firmly established. As there are no more books in this series, I'm somewhat neutral on whether it was worth the read; I don't regret the time spent on these two novels, but I'm also not especially inclined to recommend them to anyone else.