Monday, May 07, 2007

Swallows and Virgin Soldiers

I can't give enough praise to my two favorite authors of all time: Arthur Ransome and Leslie Thomas. Ransome wrote the beloved children's series Swallows and Amazons, about a group of English schoolkids who spent their summers (and other school breaks), sailing the 'high seas' of the Lake District in Britain. No amount of raving can do it justice and my advice to those of you with kids, is to buy them a set immediately. If you can only read one of his books, pick up Swallows and Amazons.

Thomas, on the other hand, wrote a number of wry, caustic, bawdy, epic and touching books about an assortment of odd characters including a British Soldier in the 1950s, an orphaned prostitute named Nell, a middle-aged man seeking respite from his mind-numbingly dull existence in Ruislip, an English town overrun with American soldiers during WW2 and a detective named Dangerous Davies, accompanied by a morose-looking dog. His empathy for his characters and his keen eye for quirky human traits translate into really funny, lonely human stories which never fail to captivate me and make me laugh. If you can only read one of his books, try Tropic of Ruislip.


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