Swallowdale (Swallows & Amazons) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-09-03 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

"I recently reread Swallows and Amazons, so of course I had to follow it up by rereading Swallowdale as well.

My comments on this book are much like those regarding its predecessor: it is a wonderful, family-friendly, wholesome, fun adventure for all ages. It is just as good as the first book in the series. In fact, I actually like it better. There are two main reasons for this. The first is that in encouraging other people to try this series, my parents lent Swallows and Amazons out to people and at some point it was never returned. I didn't take it upon myself to replace the lost volume until I was in college, so Swallowdale was the one that I reread many, many more times in middleschool, highschool, and beyond.

The second reason, is that I do think Swallowdale is better written and more developed. While I dearly love Swallows and Amazons, it does have a slow start and a unassuming plot. Swallowdale is able to jump right into the story with minimal time going over the who, what, and where. Ransome has already built the world and the beloved characters and now sets about building them up. Another shift in this story, is that while it is still very much about the whole crew, it does focus a bit more on telling things from Titty's perspective which helps center the story. I suppose it also helps that she was always my favorite character. The adventure is almost nonstop too! Oh, how I wanted to join in their fun all through my childhood!

I'll never be too old to enjoy these books. They are timeless. They are ageless. They are truly wonderful, and Swallowdale is my favorite of the lot!

This review fulfills the "Book Your Mom Loves" category of the Popsugar reading challenge.
" said.

"Swallowdale is the sequel to Swallows And Amazons, and was itself succeeded by a number of further sequels. I must admit I enjoyed the first book rather a lot more than this one. There are some beautifully described episodes here, yes, and enjoyable escapades as before... but there's something missing too. It's hard to explain exactly what it is, but Swallowdale seems to take an inordinately long time to not go anywhere in particular. As a rule, I'm not usually put off by slow or languid books, but Ransome gets far too sidetracked here... for instance, every time Susan boils the kettle for a cup of tea, he seems determined to describe her making the fire and pouring the water, etc etc. When he actually gets into the interaction between characters, and the childrens' adventures on the lake and in the hills, the story is so much livelier and all the better for it.

In short, the story deals with the return of the "Swallows" - John, Susan, Titty and Roger - to their beloved lake and a summer of sailing. Alas, their friends the "Amazons" (Nancy and Peggy) are tied up at home with a fussy Great Aunt who does nothing but chastise them for gallavanting around the lake in their boat and attempts to ruin their holiday. After a boating accident which destroys the Swallow, John and co. are forced to abandon sailing expeditions and instead make a camp in a secret valley in the hills, where they have various adventures whilst trying to keep a tricky correpsondence with their poor friends down the lake.

No-one describes landscapes quite like Ransome, and one of the real strengths of the book is his depiction of these gorgeous lakeland scenes. The sense of exploration and make-believe adventure is also evocatively presented. One just wishes throughout that Ransome would cut to the chase a little and that his characters might occasionally argue or even disagree mildly, as they seem to get along so impossibly well that they're never fully believable. I'm already planning to read part three soon - Peter Duck - but I'm hoping for a bit more energy from that one.
" said.

"This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

In this second book in the series, a year has passed since Swallows and Amazons, and the Walker children have returned to the Lake District for the summer holiday, excited to sail in Swallow, camp on Wildcat Island, and fight more wars with the Amazon pirates, Nancy and Peggy Blackett. There are some changes this year, though. For one thing, their younger sister Vicky has stopped resembling Queen Victoria, for whom she was nicknamed, and is now called Bridget. The family has also acquired a monkey, though he has not joined them on this trip, and a parrot, named Polly, who will serve as the ship’s parrot. They have also invented an imaginary explorer named Peter Duck, about whom Titty tells many exciting stories. What they are not prepared for, however, are the unexpected changes that impact their summer fun. The Blacketts have their great aunt staying with them, and she keeps the girls on such short leashes, they can hardly have any fun or free time at all. Then the Swallow suffers an unfortunate shipwreck, and the Swallows find themselves marooned on dry land while it gets fixed. But the Walker children are true explorers, and it doesn’t take long for them to settle a new camp, which they name Swallowdale, and to set out on a whole new set of adventures, including an ascent up the peak they call Kanchenjunga.

The first book in this series is so utterly brilliant, it would be impossible to top, but this sequel comes very close. Though at times early in the story Ransome’s thoughts seem somewhat disorganized, and his descriptions repetitive and lengthy, the story hardly suffers at all from these shortcomings. Rather, Ransome does a very good job of managing many story threads, and of breathing fresh life into the setting so thoroughly explored by Swallows and Amazons. I love the plotting of the story. Obviously, a new story in a familiar setting requires some changes, or the writing grows stale, but the way he chose to bring about those changes fits seamlessly into the overall narrative arc of the story and provides its own exciting shipwreck scene. Throughout the book, Ransome propels the story forward with one realistic and believable conflict after another, always resolving them happily but not without some anxiety on the part of characters and readers alike.

The characters also have a lot of room to grow during this story. Not only do we see a prim and proper side of the usually wild Blackett girls, we also see Roger beginning to mature and developing some exciting storylines of his own. Susan, too, develops beyond her role as mate, especially when she takes up native concerns on the behalf of her mother or another adult. The differences between outspoken and daring Nancy and the more cautious Swallows is also much more apparent in this book, and made me really consider how their friendship works, and why. I also thought the adult characters came to life much more strongly in this second book. Mrs. Walker and Captain Flint, in particular, developed personalities as people, not just as authority figures or family members.

This book, like its predecessor, empowers children to use their imaginations and explores the possibilities of a world where children can roam independently and look after themselves for certain lengths of time. Contemporary kids - especially in my urban community - probably haven’t done anything close to what John, Susan, Titty, and Roger do in these books, but I think every kid understands the desire for independence and relates to the power and enjoyment of imaginative play. These books appeal to all kids because they speak to their fundamental understanding of the world, and speak to their interests and concerns, instead of to the messages, lessons, and morals of adults.
" said.

"One of my favorite highlights from this gentle adventure is when the youngest of the combined Swallows and Amazons crew finds the hidden note and coin in the mountaintop cairn built by their parents and uncle 30 years prior. There were times when I just wanted to get through sections of the book, but I rather enjoyed the simple capers of the Swallows and Amazons and the homage to truly care-free adventuring during a summer vacation. If time were of no object, it would be fun enough to read the other 9 adventures of the Swallows and Amazons, but I'll leave it at one for now." said.

"This is the "Anne of Avonlea" of the Swallows & Amazons books. Sadly, it's the only one of the series I actually own, I think I may have only read it once in childhood and I can't see myself reading it ever again in adulthood.

It seems that I have taken weeks to read this, and in some ways I have, although that was partly due to 'Life' getting in the way of reading.

If it had been a standalone novel I would probably have abandoned it a third of the way in. I only stuck with it because I'm so looking forward to much of the rest of the series (from memory, Winter Holiday & We Didn't Mean to go To Sea were my favourites along with the stupendously outstanding Swallows & Amazons.

To be fair, it picks up quite a lot in the final third, when the pirates have been released from captivity and our intrepid explorers climb Kanchenjunga. But, to be honest, the only reason to read it is if you are doing the series and want to do it properly!
" said.

"I had no idea there were more books following Swallows and Amazons until I found a shelf full of them in a Children's bookshop! Swallowdale picks up the summer after Swallows and Amazons, although a Christmas holiday is referred to which the reader has possibly not been party to. It follows in much the same way as the first book, with exploring, adventures, pirates and shipwrecks.

The tone of these books really bring back the feeling of being a child, where the bottom of your garden could be a secret den miles from anywhere, and a small mound a never-before-climbed mountain full of perils. Its a shame that such holidays are utterly out-dated now, as practically no parent would be comfortable letting their children go off sailing and camping alone for weeks, or could do so without being taken to court for neglect or child abuse, and the children put into care. That in itself is a sad reflection on our current society, and adds a bitter-sweetness to the reading. However, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
" said.

" I wish my summer vacations could be like this: camping in a hidden valley, using a secret cave as a larder, trekking overland to climb a mountain (not a huge mountain, a big hill maybe), sailing and rowing all over an enormous lake. And at such a young age--the youngest isn't more than eight years old. In all, this makes for some good summer reading. " said.

" If you are looking for an easy yet intriguing read, then you've found them here. The whole series contain stories about four children and their imaginative travels...kind of like the chronicles of narnia but slightly more down to earth, and lots of fun. They made me laugh a lot, and helped me to see life a little bit more brightly. " said.

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