David Butters reviews this 'brilliant book' by Sophie Neville on the filming of the well-loved Arthur Ransome classic

I came across The Making of Swallows and Amazons by sheer chance not long after I had watched the original film ‘Swallows and Amazons’ on TV and was instantly intrigued. The book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ has been a top favourite of mine since early childhood and the 1974 film is an all-time classic.

Sophie Neville played Titty in the original Swallows and Amazons film: Official film still StudioCanal

‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’ is a brilliant book that tells the story of the creation of the movie in the words of its heroine, Titty, aka. Sophie Neville. It starts by briefly explaining how Sophie came to be cast as Titty and then follows, in day-to-day detail, the shooting of the film, told in such a lively, informal and simple manner that you can sense the enjoyment that Sophie and the rest of the cast were experiencing during the process.

The fun and excitement fairly leaps off the page. Each day’s description features extracts from the personal diary that Sophie kept throughout the 51 days of filming and these diary entries lend authenticity and colour to the narrative; you feel that you are there experiencing it all with them.

The last chapters cover the final stages of production; the publicity leading up to the Premier in London; the subsequent careers of the cast and crew. Sten Gendon (Roger in the film) sounds a particularly interesting character! Finally, we hear of Sophie’s own career, both in front of and behind the camera.

In all this is a fascinating tale expertly and well written with verve, humour and excitement. I can honestly say that there was nothing I didn’t love about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I know I shall revisit it time and time again. Well worth acquiring; an excellent read; thoroughly recommended.