Swallows and Amazons, the classic children’s holiday adventure story, is set to receive a new lease of life with a movie release this year starring Rafe Spall, Jessica Hynes and Harry Enfield. It last appeared on the big screen in 1974.
This is the first, and for my money the best, in a series of twelve books by one of the finest English children’s fiction writers of the twentieth century. I remember feeling somewhat bemused as I read the opening pages for the first time some thirty years ago, which relates a young boy “tacking” across a field in his imaginary boat as I had yet to pick up Hornblower and familiarize myself with sailing jargon.
Very soon though, I was captivated by Ransome’s prose, still some of the most beautiful writing, elegant and precise, that I have encountered. He brings to life his protagonists – John, Susan, Titty and Roger, the crew of the “Swallow”, and Nancy and Peggy, their counterparts in the “Amazon” – and creates a place of adventure and beauty in the stunning environment of England’s Lake District. Nearly ninety years after the book was published, it is still bringing tourists to the area.
I recommend this book not only to children aged nine and over who are prepared to follow an author through a more substantial storyline, but also to adults with a fondness for “old-fashioned” children’s fiction as they will enjoy the beauty of the writing and the depiction of a English countryside now largely lost.
You can also choose to listen to the audiobook version of Swallows and Amazons or check out the e-audiobook on Borrowbox.
Title: Swallows and Amazons
Author: Arthur Ransome
Nick K enjoys reading crime fiction, demonological adult and young adult fiction, classic children’s fiction like Arthur Ransome and picture books, especially those illustrated by Quentin Blake. He hates reality TV.