No plain sailing but a great read nevertheless! Arthur Ransome's seventh "Swallows and Amazons" adventure is set not long after the action of "Pigeon Post". The action occurs, this time, in the south of England, rather than in the Lake District, and with just the Swallows alone. They are passing the time on the Rivers Orwell and Stour, while waiting to meet up with their father - due, at any time, on leave from his overseas posting with the Royal Navy.
What starts out as a few days quiet sailing, though, quickly turns into something rather more frightening, with the children suddenly drawn into a terrifying and completely unexpected adventure, when they find themselves and their (borrowed) boat being swept out to sea by a fierce tide. For once, the Swallows face a very real and serious danger that is to test their combined courage, fortitude and seamanship to the utmost. It is fascinating (for grown-up readers, at least) to see each of the children's highly individual (and completely characteristic) reactions to their predicament. Younger readers, of course, are more likely just to be carried away by the pure nail-biting suspense of it all!
While this is a gripping and enthralling tale throughout, the tensions (arising from the danger and the worries of the older children) are lightened for the reader by the pure infectious glee of the younger pair. They, of course, are less aware of the seriousness of their predicament - especially Roger, who, as usual, is perfectly content so long as there is plenty of food around - and rather enjoy themselves!
As in all of the "Swallows and Amazons" books, Ransome's story-telling abilities are second to none, here. The narrative is at all times feasible and this book is a completely absorbing read for young and old alike. This is an inspired and an inspiring tale. Readers who have worked their way through the earlier volumes will also not be disappointed when they finally do get to meet Daddy in this volume!