09/02/2003

Pigeon Post (by Arthur Ransome)

As a child, from the age of about nine or ten, I very much enjoyed reading Arthur Ransome's series of twelve books that began with 'Swallows and Amazons'. Most of them featured children sailing and having adventures on lakes in the UK, but although I tended to skim some of the jargon and detailed descriptions, the characters were well-created and memorable, and there was a lot more to them than just adventures.

I read some of them to my sons when they were younger, but on the whole haven't really looked at them as an adult. However, it struck me recently that the nine 'Enneagram' types could apply rather well to the eight main characters of the series (all children), and 'Captain Flint', a much-loved uncle to two of them.

So I picked up 'Pigeon Post', a book I could barely remember, which featured all the children. And, indeed, they did seem to fit with the nine types remarkably well. I wonder if Arthur Ransome knew of the theory, or whether he simply created children with distinct features and personalities that happen to fit neatly into the pattern.

Anyway, I quickly found myself hooked on a rather good story. The children are camping rather than sailing, and determined to look for gold in the hills.

Well-written, despite seeming a little dated, with some excitement, some drama, and a rather unexpected ending which I had totally forgotten about. I can see now that the children are somewhat caricatured, but it works well because they fit into 'real' types of people.

A good book, recommended for any children or teenagers who like an exciting tale, albeit a little slower-moving than modern fiction. Excellent as a read-aloud for younger children.

Still in print in both UK and USA, with a recent facsimile edition in the UK that looks just like the rather tattered hardbacks I remember from my childhood.

No comments: