For anyone who loves sailing and adventure, Arthur Ransome's classic Swallows and Amazons series stands alone. Originally published over a half-century ago, the twelve books are still eagerly read by children and adults alike – by all those captivated by the world of adventure and imagination. Such longevity is not only due to Ransome’s unparalleled gift of storytelling, but also his championing of qualities such as independence and initiative; virtues that appeal to every generation, whether young or old. Swallows and Amazons, the book that started it all in 1930, introduces the Walker family, the camp on Wild Cat Island, the able-bodied catboat Swallow, and the two intrepid Amazons, plucky Nancy and Peggy Blackett.
Arthur Ransome was a prolific writer of children's books. Born in Leeds in 1884, it was his father, a nature-loving history professor, who inspired his love of the outdoors and nurtured a passion for fishing. As a child he enjoyed active, outdoor holidays: sailing, camping and exploring the countryside. He used many of these holiday settings for his children's stories, notably the much-loved Swallows and Amazons, a book that sits comfortably in the category of ‘timeless classic’. In 1936 he won the first ever Carnegie Medal for the sixth book in the Swallows & Amazons series, Pigeon Post.
©2013 Arthur Ransome (P)2013 Audible Ltd
“Enchanting and escapist” (Sunday Express)
“There is plenty of excitement, a little danger, a quality of thinking, planning and fun which is delightful and stimulating” (Times Literary Supplement )
“Thrilling not only to young readers fond of the sea, but also to older readers who remember how they enjoyed sea stories when they themselves were young” (The Scotsman)
“All the thrills of Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe" (Daily Telegraph)
“Absolutely fantastic” (Daily Express)
A lover of Classics, humorous literature, bizarre fantasy and crazed crime and Sci-fi.
Swallows and Amazons is a masterpiece of children's literature, written by author Arthur Ransome and the winner of the inaugural Carnegie Medal in 1937.
Set back in the time before overwhelming and constricting parental protection became practice, this book is about four children on their Summer holidays sailing on a Lake in the English Lake's District. With parents and other responsible adults far away, they engage in adventures in the sailing dinghy 'Swallow'. While sailing around this lake they make-believe a world of exploration where they are the explorers mapping the Lake. On their journeys they meet the Amazon Pirates, establish an explorer's camp on Wild Cat Island, fight a war and sail in the dead of night.
This book is the first of a series of 12 books that take place on the Lake, the Norfolk Broads, and on the high seas and have capture the imagination of many children since their first publication in the 1930-50s.
This book is perfect for children to read or have read to them and conveys the innocence of childhood imagination and adventure in such a way that many children would love to have a holiday such as this.
"Nostalgic children's adventures"
Oh yes, it's a charming story well narrated.
I can't say the most memorable one as I don't wish to give part of the story away! But Captain Flint the retired pirate was great, especially after peace and war, and I did enjoy Able Seaman Titty's fabulous feat - I applauded her as much as the others did.
Having read this series of books as a child I gave all the characters my own voice. It wasn't until hearing this audiobook that I thought of course, the Amazons are bound to have accents from that region!
The flip side of that though was my thought that if Mrs Walker grew up in Australia, surely she'd have an Australian accent rather than a Home Counties one?
Captain Flint's apology, or rather John's reaction to it.
It was with trepidation that I got this book and started listening to it. This was a very much loved series of books in my childhood and I've been disappointed several times as an adult reader going back to cherished books. I needn't have feared though. A slow start until I got used to the narrator, followed by a long knitting/audiobook session had me falling back in love with this book. It's funny isn't it: as an adult with a different perspective on the world, I had a new level of appreciation of certain events within the story and a different reaction to them. As a child this book was full-on drama action and adventure. As an adult it was much more gentle, whilst appreciating that the young characters were indeed experiencing full-on drama, action and adventure! I was also better able to put the story into context from the time it was set. As a child I just thought it was a story about a set of children a long time ago. Listening now, knowing it was set in 1929 (if I recall correctly), places it at a set moment in time.I did so enjoy going back into Ransome's world and I will savour each story again. My sister and I were given the books over a few years for birthday and Christmas presents from one particular relative. It worked out at about four books a year. I'll aim to listen to them in about the same time frame so as to get maximum enjoyment again.If you choose this book I do hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Happy listening!
"A enjoyable story, well read"
Having read the Swallows and Amazons series as a child and more recently to my children, I was delighted to see them now appearing on Audible.
I wasn't disappointed, finding it as captivating and enjoyable as I remembered it. I found the narrator engaging and he helped enhance the story for me.
I'm looking forward to moving onto Swallowdale very soon!
"Amazing story for children"
I've read this book as a child and I loved how the children turned reality into world of pirates, heroes and unfathomable natives.
I liked how the writer illustrates the two different worlds. The world of children and adults and how children understand it and deal with it.
Gareth Armstrong is a great narrator and it's really relaxing to listen to his deep calm voice.
This book reminded it me of my childhood.
It's a great book for children and reading it on holidays would encourage their imagination.
"Great story - good narration"
We've been listening to this great story as a family and everyone always wants more at the end of a chapter. The only down-side is that he makes the children sound a little too childish. But, this is a small down side as, overall, it is well performed.
It is good to see an unabridged version of this series of classic books, we will be getting the others over the next few months.
That was great! It was a brilliant reminder of bed time stories from my childhood. Looking forward to swallow dale!
"An easy read (listen)"
Just as good. Am listening to three books and this one is on when no effort is required to stay with the storyline and mental images. Originally read the first books many years ago and now going through the series in order - and it's good to chase down the maps and line drawings online.
"Gareth Armstrong not the best narator"
I have loved these stories since I first read them forty years ago. Children's stories from a simpler, safer time. But I suspect modern children might find them hard to relate too as they reflect my parents childhood in the 1930s. Such things as toilets are never mentioned!
Garath Armstrong is not the best narrator. He falls over his words and reads the wrong word, and worse wrong name, sometimes. I prefer the Alison Larkin versions but they are not available in UK. The older Alex Jennings version is better but he did not record the whole set.
"Young and old"
We listened to this on a long car journey. Initially I thought it was a bit old for my boys 5 and 7 but they soon got into it. They ended up drawing maps of the islands and even camped out on wildcat island in our spare room when we got back. This story really captured their imagination.
"Glorious nostalgia sadly let down by narration"
Not at all, which is a real shame. It has its moments, which encouraged me to persevere, but on the whole it is a disappointing performance. I'm not sure if Armstrong was unfamiliar with the style or if he was reading from a poorly proofread copy, but several sentences were read with totally the wrong inflections and sometimes in the wrong voice. However, I liked a lot about his characterisation (see next point).
Titty has always been my favourite, and she was actually done very well here. Ransome's characters can be fairly complex even though the books are called children's novels, and I loved how John and Susan (who I've always found a bit dull) were brought to life. I felt I gained more insight into their characters and I began to look forward to their scenes.
Sometimes. Often the narration was extremely speedy, which worked for some parts but almost destroyed others. I did feel I was whisked through at an unnecessary pace. However, some parts were spot on, and things did improve a bit towards the end.
Yes: once I start on this series in print form I just want to listen for as long as the characters have things to tell me about.
I realise I've been very critical of the narration here, and I couldn't exactly recommend this one to everybody. But it's still worth it if you're out for nostalgia. Plus, I've since started listening to the second book, Swallowdale, and Armstrong's narration has vastly improved both in pace and style. He sounds much more comfortable in that one, so you might want to start there. I'll be reviewing it in full once I finish!
"Brings back fond memories of yesteryear"
Great to return to Wildcat Island having read all of the books as a child and then spent time on the Lakes as an adult. An engaging performance but a few mistakes made with names: Captain Joy, Roger/John swap and Uncle Tom?!
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