3rd February 2013
The beginnings of the thirteenth Swallows and Amazons novel is collected along with a few other short or incomplete works by Arthur Ransome, which makes this much more than just some disconnected scenes from a work in progress.
Coots in the North would have seen the Death & Glories travel from the Norfolk Broads to the Lake District, and the text contains the opening of this story, which though unpolished shows the usual Ransome style and really pulls the reader into the story, which makes it more of a shame that it then stops, with the remaining portions of narrative only adding a few extra scenes. It's an interesting insight into the author's writing process, while also a disappointment that there is no more.
The other stories are equally interesting, though having not read Ransome's work outside his most famous series I may not appreciate all of it fully. The tone is very familiar, and I found the sections that open this collection the most interesting - the opening chapters of a potential book about a fisherman's life, and a later chapter from the same presented in the first person. Both stand alone quite well as short stories, and have encouraged me that now I've finished re-reading the Ransome books I've kept since a child to look out for some of his other stories.
I think I've appreciated this book much more as an adult than I did when I read it as a child, and perhaps the grown reader is the best audience for it. It evokes memories of reading about the lakes as a child, and of wanting to become a writer myself in order to complete the story!