Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome – 20 Books of Summer

Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome was first published way back in 1933 but my copy dates from 1948 when according to the inscription ‘Dear Phil’ was given it by his Nannie for his 11th birthday.

The setting is the Lake District in winter where the Swallows and Amazons children are joined by Dorothea and her brother Dick, they’re staying with their mother’s old nurse over the school holidays. Very quickly they meet up with the Swallows and Amazons and they join forces to have lots of fun and adventures on the frozen lake. The snow and ice is just perfect for them as they’re pretending that they’re Arctic explorers, the local townspeople are Eskimos and when Uncle Jim’s/Captain Flint’s houseboat gets frozen in the ice it’s renamed the Fram, pretending that it’s the ship in Nansen’s Arctic expedition.

This is a lovely read with the children quickly becoming firm friends and discovering that they have a lot to learn from each other, they all have their own talents and are happy to share their strong points with the others. Dot and Dick are very good at ice skating but know nothing of semaphore or Morse code. Obviously the Swallows and Amazons children are good at sailing and that skill is transferable as toboggans are converted to sail across the ice on their runners.

There’s a lot to pack into this adventure and the school holidays are lengthened by over a month as Nancy succumbs to the mumps which means that the other children can’t go back to school in case they’re infectious. Everywhere has to be disinfected and even notes from Nancy have to be baked in a hot oven before they can be touched. Honestly, I can’t get away from infectious diseases!

This one was my 14th Book of Summer read. It was perfect cool reading over a few hot days.

20 books of summer

6 thoughts on “Winter Holiday by Arthur Ransome – 20 Books of Summer

  1. I enjoyed this one a few years ago, Katrina, and was reminded of how much I enjoyed this series as a child. I’ll read a few more of their adventures eventually.

  2. This was one of my favorite Ransomes. It’s funny, I think of this as the mumps book but you were more impressed by the camaraderie of the children. As I recall, it took a while for Dot and Dick to be accepted by the others, although Dick didn’t notice as much as Dot.

    I liked Nancy and Dorothea best of all the children. Although I was a child who preferred reading indoors to any outside adventure, I definitely enjoyed the derring-do of others. I own all the books but have not been able to interest the nephews and nieces in this series. I did try reading S&A aloud one summer but the sailing vocabulary was tedious for me to read and the children were not interested.

    • Constance,
      I really enjoyed this one too. I didn’t think it took very long for the children to appreciate each other. The S&A children were fairly unimpressed by the Ds lack of sailing knowledge, but were very impressed by their skating ability. I think for me reading about adventures was a safe way of taking part, ‘doing’ things that I never would have tackled in reality. I have a feeling that a lot of children’s books nowadays have to have quite a lot of humour in them to attract young readers, but I could be completely wrong about that as I don’t know any young readers at the moment.

  3. You are doing much better with the 20 books of summer than I am. I intend to read them all, and will continue reading them into September, but I have read only seven so far. Right now I am reading Young Bess, which is on the list. I am about 70 pages in and liking it a lot. It is a good thing I had read the first two books in the Wolf Hall trilogy, or I would be very confused about the various people and the relationships. As it is, I am still having trouble keeping up with all the characters.

    • tracybham,
      I think all that Tudor history can be very confusing, even for people more or less brought up on it via various TV dramas and school. It doesn’t help that there seems to have been a paucity of names around in those days, so many Marys, Elizabeths, Toms and such. I haven’t done much this summer except read and garden, I’ve only read a couple of books that weren’t on my summer list. I want to read more vintage crime but generally read them as soon as I get them so I think I’ll have to order some from the internet.

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