Having rediscovered Sophie Neville through her blogs and recent autobiographical books, I was really pleased to learn of this latest book. It is a full account, largely from her own perspective, of the process of making the 1973 family film of "Swallows and Amazons".
I was a great fan of Ransome's books as a child, and loved the film when I discovered it. These recollections are published as a remastered version of the film is made available on DVD and Blu-Ray, and for people who are interested in the film itself, or its relationship with the book, it will provide as important a work of reference as Christina Hardyment's books. Additionally, it provides an insight into the painstaking process of making a film in the 1970s - at least from the perspective of a child actor (plus gathered reminiscences from other participants) - and this itself offers some insight into such diverse facets of 1970s life as public transport, health and safety, and diet!
As always, Sophie's writing is a pleasant, easy read. The book includes large numbers of photographs, both monochrome and colour, and she has gathered comprehensive information about just about everybody who was involved in the film-making process - it is interesting how widely people involved in this film spread out across the industry afterwards. This is much more than a book for "completists" or "obsessives" - as with her other books, Sophie has invested the factual elements of a significant moment of her life with the very human reminiscences that shaped it, to create a book that would be an enjoyable and interesting read almost regardless of a person's interest in the film itself.
on 13 August 2014
To those who have been fans of the film of Swallows and Amazons since it's release will know that Sophie Neville acted the role of 'Titty', her casting in the film was perfect and now she is 'Titty' grown up.
Those of us who are long term fans of Arthur Ransome's books (50 years in my case) have followed her blog where she has described the making of the film drawing upon the diary she kept at the time. These blog entries then became a much expanded e-book and now it has been skillfully converted in to a real physical book.
This book is entertaining and interesting on so many levels.
For Ransome fans it tells you all you want to know about the film (which has stood the test of time being released 40 years ago) and is full of background information on how the writer, David Wood, and director, Claude Whatman, tried to make it as close to the book as they could (their best move was to use 'real' children for the main parts, not mini prima-donnas from stage schools.) It is also an insight on how films are made, the numbers of people involved and what they all do (I always read film credits and have often wondered what some of those jobs are!) Lastly it gives a social history in to the 1970s, Sophie may be drawing on her own childhood diary but she also had access to the diaries of the other children, and her mother had the foresight to hang on to a copy of David Wood's script (they weren't allowed to see it at the time as Claude Whatman wanted natural performances.)
Sophie Neville also is still a Ransome enthusiast, and through her contacts with Ransome experts tells us much about his book and the places in the Lake District he fictionalised.
Her book is essential reading if you are an adult fan of Ransome's work (even if you have criticisms of the film - after reading this you may watch it again and have second thoughts!)
on 8 August 2014
This book evoked many happy memories of my children enjoying the freedom of the Northumbrian countryside when young not far away from the Lakeside Fells and Lakes of Cumbria. A beautiful story with remarkable insights into the problems which arise when making such a film and brought alive with the personal remembrances of the author and some wonderful pictures. Such a lovely book.
on 6 August 2014
This is a wonderful book about a wonderful childhood film. Sophie recounts some lovely behind the scenes stories and facts and it's all done in a warm and engaging way. Classic TV Press are becoming the go to place for informative and well done nostalgic books. This is another top notch release after their excellent Remembering Tenko book (Which I believe Sophie also appeared in)
on 22 March 2015
What can be said of this film which hasn't already been said a thousand times!
Every now and again in cinematic history a classic is born. It doesn't have to be a multi-billion pound blockbuster featuring legendary names, sometimes something timeless and endlessly endearing is born and this is most definitely the case with 'Swallows and Amazons'.
This film has become an old friend to me; I must have watched it a thousand times and I never tire of it! It brings back memories of a summer childhood spent in wonder-filled Cumbria, in particular Windemere, Ambleside, Derwent and Coniston Water; places we'd visit as a family before the fates would, sadly intervene.
Sophie Neville's excellent book recaptures again the halcyon days of youth in a summer-land of mountains, fells and shimmering lakes. She writes beautifully and with an easy style that's a joy to read. The love for her subject is very evident, as is her passion for the work of Arthur Ransom.
She takes you behind the scenes of the making of the film and the realities of filming on the water; how the director and crew worked tirelessly to bring out the best in the young actors and the splendours of the landscape.
So glad I made this purchase. Pride of place on the old bookshelf - thanks for the memories Sophie
on 26 August 2015
And to think, she very nearly threw away her diaries! But thankfully, Sophie Neville (Able Seaman Titty) kept them, and so here we have a definitive, behind the scenes account of the making of Swallows and Amazons. This marvellous book compiled from the diary she kept during the shoot, is literally jam-packed with information about what she and the other children encountered when filming in the Lake District. It also features a large amount of Sophie's photos, maps and humorous insights from events that happened during filming. Like the story of Mrs Batty locking out the film crew or the giggles they had when watching a pair of Routemaster double-decker buses (hired especially for them to use) continually playing footsie with one another! This book will appeal to fans of the film, Arthur Ransome, the Lake District or film fans in general. It shines a light onto the types of daily challenges faced by the film crew along with constant reminders of what life was actually like in the early seventies - when guys had long hair, flared jeans and girls wore short hemlines. Quite at odds with the era Claude Whatham's timeless classic portrayed onscreen. Which Sophie Neville continues to keep wonderfully alive here, with an assortment of delights and charming reminisces.
on 29 September 2014
I loved reading this book, having read and loved all the Arthur Ransome books and seeng the film on my first trip to the cinema at the age of 7! This book is so readable and entertaining and Sophie's voice is clear to hear throughout. The photos are fascinating and add something special. A really great read for anyone at all; I will keep dipping into it for a long time to come, which the film on play/pause in the background!
on 25 August 2015
I discovered Swallows and Amazons at the tender age of 31 on reading my wife's copy from her school-days, and became a Ransome enthusiast from that time onwards, using holidays to explore areas which Ransome had borne in mind when writing his excellent books (I've collected them all now, including the non-Swallows and Amazons ones.).
I was late in finding the film too but loved it and it's now in my collection along with 'Swallows and Amazons Forever!'. So imagine my delight on discovering that 'Titty', in the real-life form of Sophie Neville, had written a book about the making of the film.
It's a lovely, flowing narrative with stacks of interesting detail, interspersed with many photographs and her own diary-notes from that period of film-making, which any Ransome enthusiast (and any young person considering a career in film/drama etc.) should find fascinating. Her style has convinced me that I need to read her other books too.
on 1 June 2015
I have just finished reading this remarkable account of the making of the Swallows and Amazons film. For you and the other children involved in its making, it was probably more of an adventure than that of the Swallows and Amazons themselves in the book. And the film making seems to have been more of an education for life for Sophie Neville and the other child stars than any amount of schooling could be. For Sophie, in particular, it seems to have been the perfect apprenticeship for your later career. Her book also enables me to understand for the first time why it takes such a large number of people to make a film; I had no idea there was so much to cope with. Perhaps someone should make a film about the making of the Swallows and Amazons film.
on 28 September 2014
If you liked the film, you MUST read this book. "Titty" is enthralling, and the story of the film is almost as exciting as the real story by Arthur Ransome. Essential reading for devotees, thank you Sophie!