A polar expedition, full of mountain rescues, blizzards, igloos, ice sailing and heroic work amidst the frozen wastes. For Dick and Dorothea, newcomers to the lake, meeting up with the Swallows and Amazons sweeps them into a wild adventure where they must prove their worth to the team.
Reviewed on 9th August 2011
Winter Holiday, book four in the Swallows and Amazons series, introduces the D's - Dick and Dorothea - to the group and the majority of the narrative is aligned with them. They are the intellectuals of the group, whether to broaden the appeal of the group (I don't recall feeling that they helped me to connect any better than the other characters and Dick is probably the closest to my own personality) or just to shake things up.
The D's are staying by the lake for a week after Christmas, and meet up with the Swallows and Amazons, who are planning a trek to the north pole. This book has much more of a solid focus than the previous lake books, though some elements of Nancy's plight are reminiscent of the great-aunt from Swallowdale. The earlier stories were more episodic in their nature, whereas this feels like one story developing throughout.
The new characters are very useful for introducing a new reader to the series, and also their lack of understanding of sailing makes the book feel more accessible to the uninitiated. The plot itself makes for a good adventure, nothing unbelievable, though the incident of mumps is hard to relate to for a modern day reader who has never experienced it thanks to vaccination.
Overall another enjoyable read from Ransome. It adds a good new dimension to the characters and locations and I'm looking forward to continuing my reminiscences of childhood and the adventure of the D's in Coot Club.