Wednesday, 5 March 2014

PBOTD 5th March: Lauren Brooke - Coming Home

The Heartland series was tremendously popular in the early years of this century. It doesn't now appear to be in print, but for a modern series it's done pretty well. The series title gives you a good idea of what you're in for: emotion. Heartland is one of those series guaranteed to appeal to teenagers: brave, tragic heroine, running a stables pretty well on her own; using horse healing methods which have an almost mystical aura, and there's romance. 

The series is set in America, but wasn't American in origin. It's the brainchild of British author, Linda Chapman. She suggested the idea to the publishers, who liked it, but sold it first in America and so Heartland, which was originally supposed to be in Cheshire, had a transatlantic transplant. Linda Chapman wrote nine of the resulting 20 book series, with Gill Harvey and American Elisabeth Faith being responsible for the rest. They are Lauren Brooke, who doesn't actually exist at all.

Scholastic, 2000
If you're a teenager and read the Heartland books, you'll probably like Amy, the heroine, a great deal better than I did. Amy is massively self-absorbed. Granted, she has suffered a terrible blow. Her mother is killed in an accident. Amy's father is off the scene in England, and she's left with her grandfather, stablehand Ty, and her sister Lou, who comes back from Manhattan to man the fort and help run the Heartland stables, which rehabilitates horses.

Not that Lou gets any credit for this from Amy, and neither does anyone else. The only thing Amy seems to care about is indulging her terrible grief, because no one else can possibly have the depth of feeling that she does, or the awfulness of grief. Everyone else she sees as unfeeling, particularly in the way they seem able to deal with things like feed deliveries and calls from the owners of the horses Heartland is supposed to be helping. As far as Amy's concerned, the only real emotion is one that everybody else has no chance of missing. It's the tyranny of the extrovert over the introvert.

Goodness, she's vile. It's years since I've written about her, but thinking about it again brings back the sheer, visceral dislike I feel for this character. She does improve, thankfully, over the course of the book, and her poor, scorned sister, for whom I have a lot of sympathy, gets her dues.

Scholastic, 2009
The succeeding books see Amy achieving miracles with both horses, her school career, and her on-off romance with Ty. The series was made into a television series, which seems to be the lot of the horsy series which captures the imagination in America.

The series has a pretty straightforward publishing history. Heartland was first published by Scholastic in 2000. It has been reprinted many times, and was given a new cover (with a much older looking Amy) in 2009.

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For more on Lauren Brooke and her epic sagas, see her page on my website.

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