Wednesday, 12 November 2003

Winter holiday

Listening to:

’S Marvelous: the Gershwin songbook. Classic songs.

Just read:

Arthur Ransome, Winter holiday.

This is a classic children’s book in the Swallows and Amazons series. It was the fourth published, and is definitely towards the top of my list of favourites. When re-reading it recently, I found myself grinning at it for long periods of time. Part of its appeal lies in the fact that Ransome introduces two new characters, Dick and Dot Callum, who view the Swallows and Amazons from the outside. This gives us a novel perspective on familiar characters. The setting has the same thing done to it, for it is the Lake District again, but in its winter clothes. Finally, Peggy also gets to develop more fully as a character when circumstances pull her out of Nancy’s shadow somewhat. All of these new twists show Ransome at his best, taking the reader into new territory with verve and humour.

The whole book is also beautifully plotted, with a dramatic finale in three strands, and lots of adventures leading up to this point. Dick and Dot are good as new characters, adding real variety to the six existing characters. Who could ask for anything more in a book?

To review next:

Granta 83: this overheating world.