The other week, my husband and I watched Enid (2009) about the life of Enid Blyton. Enid was very skillfully portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter.
Helena Bonham Carter as Enid Blyton
The film portrays how Enid Blyton's personal life was in stark contrast to how she liked to appear to the world. It appeared to me that she was very conscious of her reputation and how others perceived her, and was well aware of how this could jeopardize her career. A lesson many celebrities have learned.
In this movie it's portrayed that Enid was a less than satisfactory mother, while she displayed a love of all things child-like! I felt perhaps that rather than adoring the children themselves (whom she often felt to be confusing) she liked the world that children lived in.
This could relate to the fact that she considered herself most happy when she was playing with her father, and brothers when small, and seemed to have a troubled relationship with her mother, whom she blamed for her father's leaving them.
Furthermore, when her parents would fight, Enid would tell her brothers stories as a form of escape. It appeared Enid's father broke all ties with the family, not just his wife and yet Enid admired and hero worshiped him.
When she was old enough she left home and became a teacher and writer, also breaking all ties with her brothers and telling people that her mother was dead. Consequently, this estrangement from her mother meant that she had no maternal support when having her own daughters and lacked the family support that most women desire when they start their own families.
Much of the information about Enid's parenting seems to come from her daughter Imogen's book A Childhood at Green Hedges.
"The truth is Enid Blyton was arrogant, insecure, pretentious, very skilled at putting difficult or unpleasant things out of her mind, and without a trace of maternal instinct. As a child, I viewed her as a rather strict authority. As an adult I pitied her."But her other daughter, Gillian disagrees with this version.
"My mother ... could communicate with children in a quite remarkable way, and not just on the page. She was a fair and loving mother, and a fascinating companion."
So it it up to the readers and viewers to decide for themselves.
The real Enid Blyton with her daughters Imogen and Gillian.
My husband was particularly bothered by the portrayal of Enid as a cold and distant mother, and couldn't finish watching the movie. But I felt that it showed the struggles of trying to be a working mother and "have it all" something which only other women can understand and many of us have been through.
I particularly felt that the men in her life were weak. From her father leaving, to her first husband finding solace in a bottle, and her second husband - who as a physician should have been much more aware of the signs of stress she was exhibiting.
If you choose to watch this film be warned, it is certainly no Miss Potter or Finding Neverland. However, I enjoyed it but viewed it with a critical eye. This is not a film for losing yourself in fantasy.
If you live in Australia, don't forget to enter my Giveaway of a box of 10 Enid Blyton Books. Only 1 week to go.