This was my own choice for January reading and it was a bit of light relief after The Power.
This was also the first time since childhood that I have read one of Arthur Ransome’s books and I remembered how much I enjoyed them as a child. Winter Holiday never came my way before, so the story was new to me, although of course some of the characters weren’t.
At 484 pages this is not a young child’s book although there is a strong feel of the famous five about it at times. Children going off and having adventures by themselves, or in this case sometimes with Captain Flint, and getting into all sorts of trouble.
Like the famous five it is very much a book of its time with a certain amount of innate sexism (the girls are there to do the cooking etc) bit less so I think than the famous five.
I don’t think this would be my favourite book of the series, although Dick’s character’s fun, I’m less fond of Dorothea, it almost seems like she was added to the story to show what real ‘little girls’ are like, to highlight how much better Susan, Nancy etc are.
There’s also quite a lot of hanging around in the book. Whilst they do get up to some excitement in the meantime the main part of the adventure is all in the last few chapters, and the tests consists of them waiting for it to happen. This is mostly due to a rogue case of mumps, but does slow the book down a bit.
Despite all this I found the story thoroughly enjoyable and it awakened my love of Swallows and Amazon’s. At some point soon I need to read the series again and discover the few books I didn’t read the first time around.
It does help that I’ve seen some of the books with the most beautiful covers. Whilst I try not to judge a book by its cover it’s hard not to want to read one that looks like this: