Swallows and Amazons and Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome.

Swallows and Amazons and Swallowdale are the first two novels in Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series in which there are thirteen books in total:
  1. Swallows and Amazons (1930)
  2. Swallowdale (1931)
  3. Peter Duck (1932)
  4. Winter Holiday (1933)
  5. Coot Club (1934)
  6. Pigeon Post (1936)
  7. We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (1937)
  8. Secret Water (1939)
  9. The Big Six (1940)
  10. Missee Lee (1941)
  11. The Picts And The Martyrs: or Not Welcome At All (1943)
  12. Great Northern? (1947)
  13. Coots in the North (1988)
I've always loved Swallows and Amazons but it wasn't until the past few years I realised there was an entire series, so this marks the beginning of my read of the entire thing, which is very exciting!

Swallows and Amazons is a book I've read a few dozen times and it is always a joy to read. It's set in the late 1920s in the Lake District and tells the story of four children, John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker (The Swallows), and their enemies, soon to be friends, Nancy and Peggy Blackett (The Amazons). The Walker children are allowed to spend a few weeks of the summer on the lake with the permission (and warning) from their father in a telegram - 
Bᴇᴛᴛᴇʀ ᴅʀᴏᴡɴᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴅᴜꜰꜰᴇʀs ɪꜰ ɴᴏᴛ ᴅᴜꜰꜰᴇʀs ᴡᴏɴᴛ ᴅʀᴏᴡɴ
So they set sail and stay on Wild Cat Island and enjoy exploring and numerous adventures, however they soon find themselves at odds with Captain Flint, his real name being Jim Turner, uncle of Nancy and Peggy, who lives on a houseboat and is working on his memoirs, becoming increasingly grumpy as he works. Soon, an all out war is declared.

It is a beautiful and charming book. It's positively idyllic capturing a lost and golden childhood era of the interwar years. I can't recommend it enough - it's so easy to get lost in it and Ransome's love and affection for the characters and the setting really shines through. I hope there'll never be a time in my life where Swallows and Amazons isn't near me waiting to be re-read. And if you haven't read it already you're lucky as you have a great treat in store!

Now on to Swallowdale: I was a little bit nervous about reading it because I thought surely it couldn't be as great as its predecessor, or it might simply be more of the same, or even too different, all of which may well lead to disappointment. I worried in vain: Swallowdale is just as wonderful. It's set in the following summer: the Walker children return to Wild Cat Island but two great disasters strike: firstly, the Amazons and Captain Flint have been captured by natives: their great aunt has come to stay and she (and consequently their mother) insists on proper ladylike behaviour from Nancy and Peggy: whilst she's there, there will be no sailing nor acting like pirates. The second great disaster: the Swallow boat sinks having hit rocks. Some quick thinking from their captain John means she is rescued from the bottom of the lake but she is in a bad state and needs repairing before she can set sail again: the Swallows are thus without a boat.

I never would have thought I would have enjoyed Swallowdale with no Swallow and hardly any sightings of the Amazons, but it is still a wonderful read with many exciting adventures to be had - the discovery of a cave, they get lost in fog, Roger sprains his ankle, and they climb a great mountain, and there is frequent reference to "Peter Duck", the titular character of the third book of the series. And I can't wait to read it! These two books are outstanding, two of the greatest books in children's literature. I'm forever in love with Ransome's writing.


  1. i've read some of these i think and liked them a lot... i don't know if you're read "Bevis" by Richard Jeffries? it's pretty good, i thought...

  2. I love these books! They're all good and then some of them are just awesome! I was surprised too at how much I enjoyed Swallowdale. It's one of my favorites.

  3. I have never read any Ransome at all, isn't that awful? I bet I would love them. Also, my favorite Diana Wynne Jones was shouted at by a grumpy Arthur Ransome when she was small.

    1. Jean, I'm not going to lie - that *is* awful! Get to Ransome and fast :)


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