Saturday, April 18

Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

One long, warm summer between the World Wars, the four Walker children - John, Susan, Titty (!) and Roger - sail on the Amazon, a borrowed dinghy, to Wild Cat Island in the middle of a lake and set up camp. They are shocked to discover another boatload of sailors arriving on theor island and determine to oust the pirates, but in short succession they and Peggy and Nancy Blackett are firm friends.
The first in a well-loved series, Swalloss and Amazons describes an idyllic, relatively parent-free untopian kids adventure. There's a spice of danger mixed with the adventure but no real discomfort.
Redolent of the era, there's nonetheless a relative dearth of sexism - Nancy is captain of the Swallow, and thiough Mother is relegated to being little more that a cardboard cutout the same is true of all the adults except 'Captain Flint' - the Blackett's Uncle James.
A great book for kids in the eight to twelve age group, I also suspect Ransom's work is a nostalgic pleasure for returning adult readers. I've long felt as though this was a book I ought to read, and am glad I finally did, but though it was enjoyable I am well past the age where it would resonate, and don't need to read any more of the series. - Alex

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