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Secret Water by Arthur Ransome

Secret Water (1939)

by Arthur Ransome

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Swallows and Amazons (8)

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456522,833 (4.11)7



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Showing 5 of 5
I own a paperback and hardcover.

  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
This is one of the latest Swallows and Amazons books in terms of the overall chronology of the series. It immediately follows We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea, which I rather dislike (too much seasickness), By this time the Swallows are older, John and Susan are old enough to be left in charge of the crew on a tidal island off the English coast. Roger the ship's boy is now rated an able seaman, and the youngest child, Bridget, hitherto too young to go along on the adventures, is included for the first time. They are exploring a set of tidal islands and are joined by the Amazons while encountering a local group of children, the Eels, who see themselves as a primitive tribe, conveniently serving as opponents for the Swallows" explorers." I suppose a contemporary critic might see the game as too imperialist, but in the context of the time it is harmless. One bit I remember is when Bridget is being a "sacrifice" and the others are afraid she is upset and stop the game, but she actually wants to go on playing. ( )
  antiquary | Dec 30, 2013 |
by Arthur Ransome

Opening line: "The First Lord of the Admiralty was unpopular at Pin Mill."

So, I have already documented the depths of my Arthur Ransome obsession love. Oh, the red caps! The sailing lessons! The singing of "Drunken Sailor"! The tacking at recess!

Anyway, it's been awhile since I actually read any Ransome. When I saw Secret Water sitting on the new book shelf at the library I snatched it up, especially since I remember it being one of my favorites.

And, oh my friends, I love this book. Here is the basic premise: after the events of We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea (which is just as exciting as that title leads one to believe) the Walker children are reunited with their parents who have, in the Ransome parent way, devised an Exciting Adventure as a reward. They will all go to a secret location somewhere around Ipswich and, armed with a blank map, set forth to explore unknown regions. Also, they receive a card from Nancy that says "Three million cheers!" in semaphore, so clearly something is afoot.

But then the First Lord recalls Captain Walker and he has to go off and it looks like they won't be able to have their fun after all.

Of course, that's at the very beginning of the book.

Bridget is always a nice addition to the gang and this is one of the first where she figures as a real character (as opposed to Vicky-the-baby). I giggled quite a bit over her human sacrifice part towards the end of the book. I have more sympathy for Susan than I used to. John and Titty are still great favorites. There were some nice additions to the regular gang on this one as well.

All in all, I was somewhat startled by how well this held up to a re-read. There was enough understated tension to keep things interesting, while of course you know all along that everything will turn out all right in the end. This is Arthur Ransome after all.

(And Nancy...you guys I still love Nancy so much.)

Now I'm thinking a grand S&A re-read is in order.

Book source: public library
Book information: Godine, 2005 (first published 1939) ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
Started it and it seemed fine. About children going on an adventure in a boat. The eighth book of a series of nine. Their father has important government work to do.
  raizel | Oct 27, 2009 |
The sequel to We didn't mean to go to sea, this is set in the complex of islands and muddy tidal creeks behind Walton-on-the-Naze, where the Swallows are dumped by their parents on an island with dinghies, tents, surveying instruments and a blank map to fill in. Maybe a fortnight spent up to the knees in mud clutching survey poles (or up to the elbows in Indian ink clutching drawing instruments) sounds more like a geography field trip than a holiday, but they seem to enjoy it, and even manage to have a little friendly war with another group of children who consider the islands as their place. Ransome was obviously thinking about The riddle of the sands when he wrote this book, although he doesn't manage to introduce an invasion scare.

Probably not the best starting point if you're new to Arthur Ransome, but the map-making theme does work surprisingly well, and any child that's already a Swallows and Amazons fan will certainly enjoy this.
1 vote thorold | Apr 23, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur Ransomeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Woolf, GabrielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the Busk Family
First words
The First Lord of the Admiralty was unpopular at Pin Mill. "I hate him,"said Roger, sitting on the foredeck of the Goblin, with his legs dangling over the side. "Who?" said Titty. "The first of those lords," said Roger. "We all hate him," said Titty. John and Suan, perhaps, did not hate the First Lord in particular, but their thoughts about the Admiralty were as bitter as Roger's.
"Oh go AWAY," shrieked Bridget. "Go AWAY. They're just in the middle of it. I don't WANT to be rescued."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The crew of the Swallow take on the task of mapping the mass of small islands round Pin Mill while living on the biggest one. But who are they mysterious savages who lurk in the islands - and is the tribal totem they find in their campsite a threat of attack?
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Follows the adventures of the five Walker children after their parents leave them on a "desert island" with provisions for a long stay and a blank map to fill in.

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