The title of this book’s a bit of a misnomer – it’s the story of the Collingwood/Altounyan family, best known for the fact that the children of Dora, nee Collingwood, and Ernest Altounyan, were the inspiration for the Walker children in the Swallows and Amazons books. Other members of the family were historians, philosophers, artists and archaeologists. It isn’t really a “Lakeland Saga” – they were only at Coniston for part of the time. But it’s still quite interesting.
It’s essentially a family history, and there are pages and pages about how X married Y, their children were A,B and C, this one had a sweet voice, that one had a moustache, etc, which probably isn’t that interesting unless you’ve got a personal connection with the people concerned. However, some of the stuff in it is genuinely fascinating – as well as Arthur Ransome, John Ruskin, Lawrence of Arabia and King Faisal of Iraq all feature, and the most interesting section shows the Altounyans, with their Armenian heritage, running a hospital in Aleppo and helping Armenian refugees fleeing the genocide. Ernest Altounyan’s own uncle was a victim of the genocide. It also gives a wonderful picture of historical, multicultural Aleppo, which has sadly suffered so much killing and destruction in the past decade.
There’s quite a bit about the Lakes too, especially Coniston, but “a Lakeland saga” it isn’t. It’s quite interesting, though – I wouldn’t spend a fortune on it, but, if you can get a cheap copy or borrow a copy from a library, it’s worth a look through.