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Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright
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Then There Were Five: 07/31/20

Then There Were Five

Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright is the third book in the Melendy Five series. The United States is now involved in WWII and the effects are felt even in the countryside. The Melendy father has been called to Washington and Cuffy, the housekeeper, has to care for a sick cousin. That leaves the four siblings on their own. What could possibly go wrong?

Like the previous two books, the narrative is divided up into episodic vignettes. But this time they are centered on a boy named Mark Herron. They meet him while looking for junk to donate to the war effort. He lives at a decrepit farm with an abusive uncle. It's clear Mark will probably die if he continues to live with this man.

Thankfully for Mark, luck is on his on his side. The remainder of the book, framed in the context of the road narrative spectrum, is how the Melendy siblings find a new home for him.

Chart showing the RDS progression of the four novels

It is Mark's status as an orphan traveler (FF) that gives him the uncanny luck to survive the tragedy that befalls his uncle. His destination, even before his uncle's death, is a home (66). In his case, that home (and the family that goes with it) is the "Four-Story Mistake" as the Melendy family calls their house. The route he takes is an offroad one (66), represented by all the great exploration spots Mark shows his future family. All together, this book is about an orphan finding a new home via an offroad route.

The final book in the series is Spider-web for Two (1951).

Four stars

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