The Enid Blyton Society
Five Go to Smuggler's Top
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Book Details...

First edition: 1945
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Illustrator: Eileen A. Soper
Category: Famous Five
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations


Dustwrapper from the 1954 edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

Frontis from the 1st edition, illustrated by Eileen A. Soper

1st German edition published by Blüchert Verlag, Hamburg in 1954,
illustrated by C. Benedek with the title Five Friends on the Hunt for Smugglers

Early German reprint published by Blüchert Verlag, Hamburg,
illustrated by Nikolaus Plump

1st French edition published by Hachette in 1956,
illustrated by Simone Baudoin

1st American edition published by Reilly & Lee in 1960
illustrated by Eileen A. Soper, cover uncredited

1st Spanish edition published by Editorial Juventud in 1965,
illustrated by José Correas
Foreign Titles
German: Fünf Freunde auf Schmugglerjagd
French: Le Club des Cinq en Vacances
Dutch: De Vijf op de smokkelaarsrots
Spanish: Los Cinco en el "Cerro del contrabandista"
Portuguese: Os Cinco e os Contrabandistas
Italian: La cima dei contrabbandieri
Swedish: Fem på smugglarjakt
Danish: De fem i smuglerreden
Finnish: Viisikko Ja Salakuljettajat
Russian: Taina werschini kontrabandista
Slovenian: 5 Prijateljev na lovu za tihotapci
Icelandic: Fimm á Smyglarahæð
Basque: Bostak Kontrabandistaren Muinoan
Indonesian: Lima Sekawan kesarang penyelundup

Brief Summary by Poppy Hutchinson: Following a terrific Easter Gale; Kirrin Cottage requires a lot of repair and Julian, Dick, Anne, and George have no choice but to spend the holidays elsewhere, and find themselves looking forward to a couple of weeks at Smuggler's Top, a mysterious and forbidding building at the summit of Castaway Hill. It is the home of Julian and Dick's eccentric school-friend, Pierre Lenoir (nicknamed Sooty), and his family – and soon the children become aware of an intriguing collection of secret passages, and discover that Uncle Quentin has been kidnapped! Is all as it seems on the quiet Castaway Hill or have the legends of Smugglers been revived?

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Terry Gustafson's Review
This book has a consistently high rating when Favourites are discussed. Why? One reason might be the atmosphere. It's there in abundance and it can play on the emotions. For example, take a look at the inside cover (endpaper) illustration and you'll see George climbing down a wall by means of a rope-ladder and overlooking a vast expanse of marshlands and mysterious ships in the moonlight. There's a sense of true adventure when the setting is analysed. There's also quite a lot about George herself and Timmy so maybe that's another reason. George's temper, obstinacy, willfulness, and forceful character are traits that tend to pull the Kirrin Book Fanciers away from the sidelines.

The Kirrin children plus dog are required to abandon Kirrin Cottage because a tree falls on the roof and messes up their bedrooms so they're are sent to Smuggler's Top on Castaway Hill whilst repairs are carried out. To obtain a reasonable image of their venue take a look at a picture of St. Michael's Mount in the Cornwall area or its counterpart in France — better still, hunt out the Bill Bartlett print of Rye in Sussex. The resemblance is pretty good. Smuggler's Top is continually shrouded in mist and the surrounding marsh is very threatening to anyone who steps off the tried and true paths so the four children plus dog are entering a fairly alien environment where they will be staying with a scientist friend of George's father — a Mr Lenoir.

Timmy has caused many problems for his mistress in the past and yet another springs up: She's not allowed to have him at Smuggler's Top because Mr Lenoir despises dogs but that doesn't put George off. Typically, she decides to take him anyway but with the firm resolve that Timmy will be kept hidden from Mr Lenoir's view.

They meet their host's stepson Pierre who goes to the same school as Julian and Dick and he has a shrinking-violet of a sister named Marybelle who is as fair as her brother is dark. He's not a Negro but he's described as having black hair, black eyes, black eyebrows and a brown face. Enid Blyton's made him like that for some reason or another and according to the knowledgeable Dick ... Lenoir or Le-Noir means the Black One. He's a fine fellow and because of the dark features his contemporaries have nick-named him Sooty! George finds herself liking him instantly which is a fair judgment to go on because she doesn't take to strangers all that quickly.

Much excitement is generated with the concealment of Timmy and it's just as well there's a secret panel in Sooty's bedroom behind which the dog can be hidden. To help things along even further, a concealed trapdoor in Marybelle's room allows anyone whose game enough, to climb down a hole and end up in a tunnel which eventually comes out within the city precincts. That's very convenient because Timmy will need exercise but how will he get down the hole? That could be a problem; however the children never shy at any attempt to overcome the Odds. There's a really good dose of secret passages in the vicinity which according to Sooty are actually catacombs inside the hill where Smuggler's Top is situated.

Spookiness abounds. Who could be shining a light from the tower window? What about those strange illuminations in the marshes? There's a nice representation of Julian, Dick and their friend Sooty observing these round page 65 or so. If you don't have the book with original illustrations then it's worth searching out a copy so that you can experience the atmosphere at its best. Eileen Soper's pictures convey the mood to a "T" and there's one of a man in the dead of night who is descending the stone steps that lead up to the tower — now that's Shades of Dracula without a doubt. Two frightened boys watch from behind a curtain as the sinister figure passes by. As in the second of the books, serious doubts exist about one or two persons who should be above suspicion.

Unexpected problems arise when Sooty's room that has the secret panel leading to where Timmy is hidden, has to be given up to accommodate Uncle Quentin who arrives for a confab with Sooty's pater. There is a second way to reach Timmy and George's urge to be reunited with her dog results in her being caught when she endeavours to use it by sneaking into Mr Lenoir's study. She's punished by being locked in her room and supplied with standard prisoner fare — bread and water!

Undeterred, she sneaks out of the window (that's where the rope ladder comes in) and has an adventure all by herself. From a perch on the old wall that surrounds the city she observes things that are just plain crazy. "That man with his back to the window!" — it's unbelievable thinks poor George! There are what could be called a couple of madmen who play rather a large part in this bizarre tale and if you think the seemingly harmless word "Block" couldn't have menacing connotations then you can think again!

Julian plays his part by asserting his authority now and again and thank goodness for his strength and Goodness to guide them all as they plunge deeper into the mystery and attempt to sort things out.

What with the puzzles and shocks and revelations and excitement generated it's no wonder the book rates so high. The end has many surprises together with a very upsetting incident which involves Timmy and Quentin — a strange combination but necessary for the exciting finale. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.