Thursday, 2 January 2014

Pony Book of the Day: January 2nd, K M Peyton - Flambards

I love Flambards, K M Peyton's historical series set in the early 20th century. It kicks off with Flambards (OUP, 1967), in which heroine Christina is on her way to live with her uncle and her two cousins, none of whom she's ever met. Christina is an orphan, but she's a rich orphan, and the Flambards estate needs money, something Christina realises quite soon on meeting her relations. Her uncle Russell and her cousin Mark value dash, bravery and hunting above all things. The Flambards stables are infinitely better kept than the house.


Puffin paperback, illustration Victor Ambrus

Hardback Flambards edition, possibly American

Christina does not, as some modern heroines would do, bemoan her lot, or indulge in a great storm of emotion. She makes as good a go of things as she can. She loves horses, and learns to ride, which goes considerably better once she's away from the almost lethal instruction of cousin Mark, and under the sensible and empathetic tutelage of stable boy Dick. Christina also finds she has a lot in common with her other cousin, Will, who loathes his father and brother, and their hunting obsession. Will has an obsession of his own, and it's flying.

Christina's intended to marry Mark, but that's not what she intends, at all.

The first three books of the series were made into a television series, Flambards, in the 1970s. It was tremendously popular, and I remember watching Christine McKenna as Christina, and marvelling at her elegance as she rode side saddle. I didn't learn until much later that Christine McKenna had had to do a very swift and intensive riding course, having claimed that she could ride when she was up for the part.... She rode an entertaining book about the whole process, If Only They'd Told the Horses (Puffin, 1981).  The edition of Flambards below shows a still from the series.

Puffin, 1978

The series has been reprinted several times, and there's a relatively recent OUP printing below.

OUP, 2004

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