Monday, 11 June 2007

The modern pony book

I try, but I just can't do it. Heartland, and its new sister Chestnut Hill, leave me cold. I can see that they're written well enough, I can see why they appeal to their market - presumably the horsey girl, and I suppose I should be grateful that the pony book genre is continuing, but what I can't get to grips with is the feeling that I'm being manipulated. It's as if the publishers sat down at a meeting, and thought "What do horsey girls like?" And then they've given it to them. Horses which only respond to the heroine (and in Heartland, they have that in bucketfuls); alternative therapies, with again the undertow of only-the-heroine-can-get-this-right against a sceptical world; a relationship with the opposite sex, but not enough to be frightening or to detract from the horses, and a family background with tragedy, but yet still enough stable figures in it to have an element of comfort. Ta da! All the boxes ticked, and masses of sales.

And does Lauren Brooke, the supposed author, even exist? She has a page on the Scholastic website which implies that she does, but the author page for Gill Harvey on the Bloomsbury website states she has written 8 of the books (which does imply that Someone Else, or maybe several Someones) have written the rest.

It's the feeling of Opium for the Masses I find so uncomfortable. It's done competently and efficiently, but it isn't done out of passion for writing something with characters who sing off the page or which has the ring of truth that really good writing has.

2 comments:

mutterings and meanderings said...

I'm with you on the Heartland books. They leave me cold...

Pony books by numbers.

Vanessa said...

Haven't read any of the Heartland books but most modern pony books are pretty grim. Bring back Jill, I say! And the West Barsetshire Pony Club!