'Swallows and Amazons' - Book Review

Despite its considerably advanced age (the book was written in 1930), Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons remains one of the best known children's books ever written. This isn't a thin book either: the 1973 Penguin printing I have runs to 360 pages, and the print's not big. I was reminded that I hadn't read it by a trailer for the 2016 movie.

The story is about the four Walker children, John, Susan, Titty, and Roger (The Swallows) and Nancy and Peggy Blackett (The Amazons). Considerable speculation was to be had in my family about Titty's name: given the age of the book, my mother and I both independently guessed it was a contraction of "Titania," but we were wrong. According to Wikipedia her name is from the children's book Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse. Few will be surprised to hear that the character's name was changed to Kitty for one movie production, and Tatty for the 2016 movie.

The book sees the Walker children at a lake in the Lake District in Britain, where they sail and camp and have adventures, including mock wars with the Amazons, during their summer vacation. Ransome likes his sailing details, and I have to admit there's enough of them that I glazed over a bit. The most dramatic action of the entire book was the theft of a chest from a houseboat by some unseen thieves, but for the most part the book is utterly devoid of tension or drama. It has a certain amount of old-fashioned charm, but having read one, I have no intention of tracking down any of the eleven sequels (as thrilling as it was to hear that they have independent titles, like Pigeon Post and The Big Six ... so refreshing that they're not Swallows and Amazons III).