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)