Tales of Long Ago by Enid Blyton
At our last Village Classics Reading Group discussing The Iliad (did not finish, thank God I'd watched the film Troy), our talk turned to learning about the ancient Greeks and fables. Specifically how we had come to learn about our favourite stories. My husband has an astounding knowledge of these legends and is rather handy in a quiz. Some had received books from school won as end of year prizes. In my case, I had been passed my Sister's 'Tales of Long Ago' book by Enid Blyton.
Feeling nostalgic I hopped on Ebay and treated myself to an edition I'd had as a child. Published by Dean and Co, I remembered the duck egg blue cover, cherubic ancient Greeks with a drawing of Aladdin on the spine for good measure.
Tales of Long Ago is a collection of fables and myths retold by Enid Blyton with illustrations by Anne and Janet Johnstone and features tales from the Arabian Nights and Tales of Ancient Greece including the stories of Pandora's Box, Cupid and Psyche, and Proserpina and the King of the Underworld.
This was a lovely trip down memory lane especially as I'd ordered the same edition I'd had as a child, complete with the same beautiful black and white illustrations.
The book is essentially divided into 2 parts starting with the Ancient Greeks before moving onto the Arabian Nights and are a marvellous collection of myths and legend.
One note though, why on earth anyone would want to go on a voyage with Sinbad is beyond me. Each story seemed to start with Sinbad living in apparent contentment but becoming bored before choosing to embark on voyage. Each voyage involved a shipwreck and usually some kind of horrific death for the poor crew, eaten by a vicious sea-monster, or picked off one by one on a mysterious island. Sinbad always escapes remarkably unscathed, wealthy and presumably with insurance premiums through the roof.
This is a beautiful retelling, done in Blyton's usual no nonsense way. A lovely novel to revisit again.
I'll be back on Friday with another children's novel and tell you all about what happens at book launches.