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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. 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

Thursday, 20 May 2021

"Pigeon Post" by Arthur Ransome

For my money this is the second best of the twelve books in the Swallows and Amazons series. The setting is the Lake in the north again but there is a drought and rather than sailing they are prospecting for gold on the fells. There is a full cast of Swallows (John, Susan, Titty and Roger), Amazons (Nancy and Peggy) and  Ds (Dick and Dorothea). This book, which won the inaugural Carnegie Medal in 1936, has carrier homing pigeons, water divining, charcoal making, gold mining and panning, and the ever-present threat of a single spark setting the entire fell alight. It is excitement from start to end. Each of the large cast of characters is well-drawn and most of them have pivotal parts to play in the plot. One of the great things about the S&A books is they are stories in which the heroes are exposed to potentially life-threatening situations in enormously realistic settings. 

Some great moments:
  • "But, barbecued billygoats!", cried Nancy. "Can't you see? They're pointing exactly here." (Ch 22)
  • "Roger, for once the leader, was the least hurried of the party. The others kept pressing round him, as if the nearer they kept to him the sooner they would see the place for themselves." (Ch 21)
  • "Well, I don't know," said Nancy. Nobody had ever heard her say anything like that before." (Ch 26)
  • "her spirits were going upstairs again three steps at a time." (Ch 35)

This is a book in which the excitement never flags.

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

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