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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

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

"Secret Water" by Arthur Ransome

 Another classic Swallows and Amazons adventure. This time the children are camping on muddy tidal islands, tasked with creating a map of the archipelago. They discover another gang of sailing kids (the 'Eels') complete with a shy lad called the Mastodon who lives in a wreck. The muddy adventures include being caught on a tidal causeway with the water getting deeper by the minute ...

Great moments: 

  • "It was as if they had come across a skeleton and on looking at the skull had been greeted with a wink." (Ch 8)
  • "He woke with a queer feeling of gloom. It was like waking on the day after he had written parvissimus instead of minimus in an examination paper." (Ch 29) What a wonderfully sated concern that seems to us now!

A great yarn if suffused with colonialist attitudes. May 2021; 373 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
The internal logic of the series suggests that Secret Water comes immediately after We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea and also after Pigeon Post and probably after The Picts and the Martyrs.

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