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Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 23 April 2021

"Peter Duck" by Arthur Ransome

 The third in the Swallows and Amazons series of ten novels, but this time with a difference. The four Swallows and the two Amazons sail with Captain Flint in the Wild Cat from Lowestoft to an island in the Caribbean after Peter Duck, an old sailor shipping with them, tells them a yarn of seeing pirates burying gold when he was a lad. But they are followed by Black Jake, a very modern pirate, in the black-sailed Viper. It's not just treasure hunting: there's fog, a storm and even an earthquake. Oh, and pirates.

It is, at heart, a silly storybook yarn. But the level of detail raises it far beyond its melodramatic beginnings to the status of an absorbing novel.

Memorable moments:

  • "I met a young woman there, clipper built, you might say, with a fine figurehead to her, well found too." (Ch 6)
  • "Exploring's only going next door, but it's going on going next door without turning back." (Ch 10)
  • "The mates tried washing up after dinner, but so much water was coming aboard that it felt rather as if they were being washed up themselves." (Ch 14)

It's a rollicking yarn but it is remarkable that Ransome can put so much technical detail into a book that is for children and achieve such a success. April 2021; 397 pages

This review was written by
the author of Motherdarling 
and The Kids of God


The Swallows and Amazon series contained twelve books:
  • Swallows and Amazons: Children camping on an island in a lake have sailing based adventures
  • Swallowdale: More sailing adventures are threatened when the Swallow sinks
  • Peter Duck: The Swallows and Amazons and Captain Flint sail on a big yacht into the Caribbean in search of pirate treasure; pirates pursue
  • Winter Holiday: the lake freezes allowing a sledge-based expedition to the 'north pole'; the 'D's are introduced
  • Coot Club: The Ds join the Death and Glory kids in the Norfolk Broads but the excitement is just as great when birds have to be protected from rowdies.
  • We Didn't Mean to go to Sea: The Swallows accidentally find themselves at sea in a yacht they scarcely know: for my money this is the most dramatic and exciting book of the series.
  • Secret Water: The Swallows are joined by the Amazons in an expedition to map some tidal mud-flats
  • The Big Six: The Death and Glory kids have to be cleared of accusations of crime; the Ds help.
  • Missee Lee: The Swallows and Amazons and Captain Flint are shipwrecked near China and captured by a lady Chinese pirate with a taste for Latin.
  • Pigeon Post: The Swallows and Amazons and Ds search for gold in the hills above the Lake; one of my favourites
  • The Picts and the Martyrs: The Ds have to hide in the hills when the Great Aunt comes to stay with the Amazons
  • Great Northern: The Swallows and Amazons and Ds and Captain Flint are protecting birds in the far north of Scotland.

Other books by this author:


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