Swallowdale is the second book in the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome.
John, Susan, Titty and Roger return for another summer adventure, camping in the hills and sailing in the Lake District. However, when the explorers are shipwrecked; the Swallows and Amazons are left in a new place, to make a new camp and new expeditions.
I really enjoyed Swallows and Amazons but, unfortunately, Swallowdale took a little longer to engross me. I’m not sure why this was – perhaps my attention was initially lacking, or the story didn’t gather pace in a way I expected.
The style of Ransome’s writing is as witty and wholesome as it was in the first book – the rather random “voodoo” scene midway through Swallowdale is particularly ridiculous, but incredibly amusing.
I liked the settings of Swallowdale more than those of Swallows and Amazons. I think, given the shipwreck, the fact the child spent more time exploring on land as opposed to sailing helped me visualise surroundings more easily.
The descriptions were wonderfully vivid, and poetic in places too, reminding me (again) of the children’s adventure series The Famous Five – right down to the inclusion of both a “cave for a larder” and “bracken for bedding” (convenient).
I liked the introduction of new characters, as well as cameos of characters from the first book.
The conflict of Nancy and Peggy versus their Great Aunt, a woman averse to the idea of young girls with rough-and-tumble natures, touches upon the theme of gender I raised in my last review. Nancy and Peggy’s determinedness to have adventures with their friends, “despite” the fact they’re girls, is a great challenge to stereotypical expectations of girls at the time.
Whilst on the topic of characters, my love for Roger has increased enormously after reading Swallowdale. He is the smallest, sweetest, most boisterous (and most accident-prone) and I loved both seeing what he got up to, and watching Susan and the others keep a careful eye on him. I can’t wait to see him grow and develop throughout the rest of the series.
To echo thoughts from my first review, I think Swallowdale is a great sequel – it’s a fun, light, heart-warming read and I look forward to getting stuck into the next book in the series.
If you didn’t read this book as a child, I encourage you to read it.
If you did read this book as a child, I encourage you to read it again.