Swallowdale (Godine Storyteller)

by Arthur Ransome

Paperback, 2010



Call number

PB Ran

Call number

PB Ran

Local notes

PB Ran




David R Godine (2010), Edition: A Godine Storyteller, 448 pages


Classic Literature. Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. HTML: A group of English children share a summer adventure, featuring a shipwreck, a secret valley and cave, a thrilling mountain hike, and a stickler aunt. On summer holiday, the Swallows (John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker) and the Amazons (Nancy and Peggy Blackett) meet up on Wild Cat Island. Unfortunately, though, the Amazons have a problem: their Great Aunt Maria has come to visit and she demands that the Amazon pirates act like "young ladies." Things get worse when the Swallows discover a very high hill that just begs to be climbed... How the Amazons escape the Great Aunt, arrange a rendezvous, and mount an expedition to sleep under the stars on the summit makes a very exciting and satisfying story. Friendship, resourcefulness, and sailing, too: Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series has stood the test of time. More than just great stories, each one celebrates independence and initiative with a colorful, large cast of characters. Swallowdale (originally published in 1931) is the second title in the Swallows and Amazons series, books for children or grownups, anyone captivated by a world of adventure and imagination..… (more)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

448 p.; 5 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member thorold
With the Walker children returning to the Lake District for a second summer, the difficulty facing Arthur Ransome is obvious: any sensible child that had a perfect summer holiday the year before would want to do exactly the same thing this year, and that would have made for an exceedingly dull
Show More

So Ransome introduces two problems: the Amazons have a Great Aunt staying with them, and are obliged to submit to the torture of turning up for meals and behaving like proper young ladies; only a couple of days into the holiday, the Swallows have an unfortunate accident that puts their boat out of action for a while. So they are forced to shift their camp from the island to the mainland, and get the opportunity to discover a few more new facets of Lakeland life.

When I was a child, I used to find these "problem" books (Pigeon Post, Winter Holiday, and Picts and Martyrs all operate in similar ways) rather frustrating — I think I really just wanted to keep on re-reading Swallows and Amazons — but there is a lot of very interesting and enjoyable stuff in them. Despite being a largely shore-based novel, Swallowdale has a couple of very good sailing sequences in it, and there's also a lot of interest in the ascent of Kanchenjunga and the subsequent fog-chapters. As others have observed, it's quite amusing to see Nancy and Peggy dolled up in smart frocks and white gloves (did middle-class young women really still wear gloves for driving out in 1932?). Re-reading this, I also found I'd forgotten what a splendid new character Mary Swainson makes: a tough young woman who seems to be running her elderly parents' farm for them single-handed, but still has time to flirt with woodmen and darn Roger's shorts.
Show Less
LibraryThing member thesmellofbooks
A worthy successor to Swallows and Amazons. The crew explore the moors on the mainland.

One of the surprises for me as a reader in the twenty-first century is the predominance of technically able girls in these books. The main crew--the Swallows--is composed of two boys and two girls. The eldest boy
Show More
is captain, the youngest is ship's boy. The girls are Mate and Able-Seaman. The Amazons are both girls and the captain is a cut better seaman than Captain John of the Amazons. Each is a talented and diligent seaman according to their age. It is a breath of fresh air after so many stories where the girls are great at getting supper ready (though indeed the Mate is good at this as well), and everything else is the domain of the boys.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Eyejaybee
The Swallows and Amazons return for another instalment of blissful fun, camping and exploring in the Lake District. A year on from the events chronicled in ‘Swallows and Amazons’, the Walker children come back to the Lakes, expecting to camp once more on Wild Cat Island along with their friends
Show More
Nancy and Peggy Blackett, known as The Amazons. Things do not go to plan.

On their first outing of the year, an accident befalls the Swallow, the dinghy adopted by the Walkers, leaving them having to take on the role of shipwreck survivors. Meanwhile the Amazons are beset with family duty. Their great aunt, who brought up their mother and Uncle Jim (better known as Captain Flint) has returned to the family house, and Nancy and Peggy are required to be on their best behaviour which means acting like young ladies rather than running wild and wreaking havoc in their customary tomboy way.

Ransome’s writing is as masterful as ever, combining superb children’s adventure stories, in excellent clear prose, while managing to eulogise the pursuit of an outdoor life without ever sinking into sanctimony. His own imagination was clearly powerful, and he imparts this enthusiasm to his characters, both adults and children. He never patronises the children, either the characters or his readers. Widely read himself as a boy, he clearly expects a similar literary background from his readers.

Like John Buchan’s novels, written at similar times, Ransome’s books are easily parodied now as representing a very middle class, anodyne perspective on life. That is, however, unfair (both to Ransome and to Buchan). They both wrote with effortless lucidity, and understood the nature of adventure. The Walkers are certainly middle class, but the children all interact perfectly politely and naturally with all the ‘natives’ (i.e. locals) whom they meet, including farmers, charcoal burners and loggers. There is never any hint of awareness of any class divide.

Arthur Ransome’s books do hark back to a different world, on that is now long gone, though I suspect that that was true even at the time they were first published, between the World Wars. Like Buchan, he may be invoking a golden or Corinthian age largely of his own imagining, but that does not make the books any less magical. Well over forty years since I first read it, ‘Swallowdale’ remains a delight.
Show Less
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The second in Arthur Ransome's classic series about a group of children (a few groups of children, really) and their holiday adventures in the great outdoors, this delightful novel is more than the equal of its predecessor, Swallows and Amazons. Opening as the four Swallows - the Walker children:
Show More
Captain John, Mate Susan, Able-Seaman Titty, and Ship's Boy Roger - return to the lake, eager for another summer of sailing, Swallowdale soon shifts focus, as two catastrophes - one maritime, the other familial - prevent their complete reunion with their friendly ally-adversaries, the Amazons. Landlocked, and unable to spend much time with Captain Nancy and Mate Peggy, the Swallows confront a summer stripped of all the delights they had spent a year anticipating. Until, that is, Titty and Roger discover a secret valley - the beautiful Swallowdale - and another sort of adventure begins...

As with the first entry in the series, I was impressed by how engaging Ransome's narrative proved to be, given its leisurely pace, and lack of sensational incident. Everything that occurs - the discovery of Swallowdale, the Swallows camping out in their new valley stronghold, climbing Kanchenjunga (as they name a local peak), getting lost on a foggy moor - is realistically depicted. Despite that fact, or perhaps because of it, the reader is drawn into the story, following along with the adventures, enjoying the lovely descriptions, and taking the good-hearted, but wholly human children to heart.

I was also particularly struck, while reading Swallowdale, by Ransome's understated humor, which I found just to my taste. The scene in which the Swallows are horrified to witness the Amazons being forced to wear dresses, and drive out with their dreaded Great Aunt, was quite amusing, as was Roger's observation, while resident with Young Billy the charcoal burner, that dreaming of a certain kind of adventure was one thing, but living it quite another! All in all, a delightful second installment of a series I am now determined to finish. I think I may save the next for the winter, though...
Show Less
LibraryThing member Vivl
I've reread this series, particularly the earlier books, several times since my childhood. I am in the process of collecting the entire series in recent paperbacks because my dad's old, much loved hardbacks are showing their age and I am scared to touch them too much. It is a joy to reread each one
Show More
as I add the new copy to my collection.

Notes on most recent reread: Once again, an utter joy. I found myself wondering why exactly I find these books so engaging. It's not pure nostalgia for cosy childhood days spent sharing the Cumbrian lakes with the Swallows and the Amazons. It's also the quality of the writing which translates perfectly to my adult reader's tastes. There is a refreshing lack of twee, in my opinion, and thankfully Ransome avoids the syrup and sanctimonious overtones too apparent in much writing for children (can you tell I don't like Enid Blighton?) These kids are polite and in general well behaved but they are pretty much anti-prissy. The thrills are gentle but still compelling and I found myself reading for much longer at each sitting than I had intended, not wanting to put it down.

The 1/2 star off is only because I think the first book, Swallows and Amazons, holds together and grips just that smidge more convincingly. Both are brilliant books.
Show Less
LibraryThing member JudithProctor
There's a reason Swallowdale is a classic. It's a very well written book.
It's one of those novels where nothing happens on a grand scale - afterwards, you wonder what the plot was - and then you realise the difference between having a plot and telling a good story.

Lots of things happen in
Show More
Swallowdale, but they happen on a smaller scale. More like a series of episodes. The images that linger in the mind are Titty and Roger exploring, and inventing their own rules as to how to explore, how to avoid inconvenient things like roads, how to leave secret signals, etc. Or Titty meeting the woodsmen and riding on the timber haulage

Sometimes, it's the setting, and the realisation of how far it now is in the past. It's a world where cars are still few and far between: where milk comes in a jug, not a tetrapack; where timber is extracted from woods and hauled out be horses; where a shipyard has steam boxes for bending planks. The Lake District is less crowded and there's a feeling of space which would be hard to imagine now.

1930, when the book was written, is less than a century ago, and yet is different in so many ways.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jedisluzer
The Swallow gets shipwrecked, and the Swallows and Amazons climb Kanchenjunga!
LibraryThing member Figgles
Classic early Swallows and Amazons, the Swallows return to the lake for their summer holidays, but things go awry - their allies are suffering from the native trouble (their strict Great Aunt has put a damper on their adventuring) and the Swallows themselves are shipwrecked. However creativity and
Show More
resourcefullness mean that they make the best of their circumstances and we share adventures on land. Episodic but fun and we see the characters grow and learn more about the moors and mountains surrounding the lake.
Show Less
LibraryThing member rakerman
Excellent tale of adventure and very well-done direct sequel to Swallows and Amazons.

In the edition I had the maps on the end papers gave away quite a lot, so you might not want to look at them until after you've read the story.

Shifts in language since the 1930s make for some now-unfortunate word
Show More
Show Less
LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
This one's as good as Swallows and Amazons. Here, people screw up - make wrong choices - and actually have to deal with the consequences, though they're never extreme. A genuine shipwreck, in deep(ish) water; getting lost on the moors in a fog; dealing with "native" (or "grownup") trouble...and the
Show More
children just deal with it, handling what comes and turning it into an event and not a disaster. Swallowdale itself is lovely - a perfect hidden valley for them to camp in, and the cave is just icing on the cake. The Amazon attack is truly funny. Oh, and I absolutely adore the cache on Kanchenjunga - makes me want to read _their_ story(s) as well. Good story, and good sequel to S&A.
Show Less
LibraryThing member antiquary
Second in the Swallows and Amazons series. The Swallow is wrecked and while it is being repaired, her crew camps in a valley they name Swallowdale. Odd aspect is an attempt at image magic by Tiity.I believe I first read this out of the Toledo Public Library and later bought it in paperback about
Show More
1968 at the same time I got Winter Holiday (now lost).
Show Less
LibraryThing member simchaboston
A good follow-up to "Swallows and "Amazons" -- and, for this landlubber, even easier to understand. I love all the adventures and the spunky personalities, as well as the wonderful humor. (The mentions of the great-aunt are particularly horrible and hilarious.) If one could go back in time, though,
Show More
I'd ask Ransome to edit the scene of Titty preparing the voodoo doll, since the language she uses is offensive and could easily be dispensed with. At least modern-day parents can counteract that bit of racism when reading it to their children.
Show Less




(202 ratings; 4.2)
Page: 0.6999 seconds