Saturday, 17 November 2007

Christine Pullein-Thompson


At last, at last, the Christine Pullein-Thompson bibliography is on the website. It has been an epic task, as she wrote over 100 pony books - surely the most of any pony book author? Unless Bonnie Bryant of Saddle Club wrote more. And that would only be true if Bonnie Bryant is in fact one person rather than a load of different authors writing under that name.
Huge thanks to Dawn of Pullein-Thompson archive who has been the most fantastic help. It really would have been very difficult to do it without her, as she has a much keener eye for detail than me, and also has an amazing collection which she is very happy to plunder for photos.
Christine PT is though the Pullein-Thompson I am most ambivalent about. There are some titles of hers I absolutely love: The Horse Sale, Phantom Horse, I Rode a Winner, and now I am older and can cope with romance, The Impossible Horse, but there are some I find tricky. I think it's the way her characters' despair is so total. One minute they're quite cheerful, and the next it is utter doom and gloom. I found that my own emotional response to the story lagged behind the characters' and felt I couldn't quite keep pace with their dizzying plunges: the book I'm thinking of particularly here is A Pony in Distress, which I read quite recently. She also seems to make a very determined effort to make her characters outsiders and that perhaps pushes her writing further than she was comfortable with.
I wonder too if the reason why I find some of her books uncomfortable is because they stray outside my own comfort zone? The world some of her books describe, from the 1970s at least, seemed alien to me, but then thinking about it, I went to a comprehensive (albeit one that was a grammar school when I started it). However, we weren't poor, and I didn't live in the inner city until I was much older. Hmmm. I'm not sure I've come to any very useful conclusions there.

4 comments:

haffyfan said...

I think you may have hit the nail on the head...I have often wondered why I did not like so many of Christine's books whereas I love both her sisters works and I think it is because so many are ouside my comfort zone too. Her books are much 'darker' in undertone than her sisters and some are 'dark' to the point of distressing (Ponies in The Forest etc). I do love Phantom Horse, Black Pony Inn (although some of them are rather full of doom and gloom), The hunting trilogy and David and Pat trilogy though. The Impossible Horse didn't really leave any impression on me, I quite liked it but it didn't stand out as anything special, but I did only read it for the first time last year and all my favourites are books I loved growing up.

pullein-thompson-archive said...

I agree with haffyfan, you have hit the nail on the head.

However, I think both the sisters are dark (it must be a twin thing), just that they tackle it in different ways. Diana is a bit more morbid, her books are full of accidents, and to a certain extent, deaths galore. Christine doesnt tackle death and accidents in quite the same frequency as Diana, but it's still there.

I am not familiar with "A Pony In Distress" (it's one I need to get hold of for myself), though.

I am a bit like you, it wasnt until this century (2001) I lived in a town, I spent my whole childhood in the country. My parents arent poor either, but not uber rich (never had a pony).

Jane said...

It's interesting both of you think the same. I don't feel the same way about Diana though and I guess from what you both say that neither of you do too. Maybe Diana's characters are a bit more accepting of what's happening to them? I'm thinking of This Pony is Dangerous where the heroine isn't cast into utter gloom by the situation with her parents. Christine's characters - well, some of them, I suppose - seem much more hopeless. Maybe I liked the fact Diana's characters fought back a bit more.

Haffyfan I do know what you mean about distressing. Follyfoot I always found very very hard to read - though I didn't mind Monica Dickens' World's End at all - in fact I loved them - and they have animals who are rescued. Maybe with Follyfoot there was an undertow of hopelessness to it all. I don't know. I must read them again and think about it!

Jane said...

Just had another thought. It would be interesting to know what Christine's sale figures were for her later books - whether they sold better than the earlier titles.