Friday, 11 April 2014

PBOTD 11th April: Linda Newbery - The Damage Done

Poor Kirsty, heroine of The Damage Done (2001). She is used, quite ruthlessly, by her family. Her beloved brother leaves her to run the livery stables he's set up - her father relies on her to run the household because he is Writing. Long, long ago, he wrote a successful book, but his literary output since has been the same as a dog's: nothing. But he is always busy with the great work. Kirsty's mother is off the scene. She is far more together than Kirsty's father, and she is prepared to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. If this involves leaving Kirsty, so be it, but that doesn't mean she's going to ignore Kirsty completely. She wants Kirsty to do the conventional thing: education, university, London. To be one of those middle class girls a mother can show off with a certain quiet pride.

Scholastic, 2001, first edition
And what of Kirsty in all this? Kirsty is tottering. She has far more to cope with than any girl her age should, and she has developed agoraphobia, which bearing in mind all she has to cope with, seems a remarkably sane and sensible approach to her difficulties.

Linda Newbery makes Kirsty's attempts to find her own way through the conflicting selfishnesses of her family entirely believable. Kirsty is helped by another injured soul: Dally, who mysteriously appears, working as a gardener. Through all this are woven the horses, who provide a still centre where Kirsty can hide. If only it weren't for all the constructs we put on horses, and on people, and on ourselves.

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The Damage Done was published by Scholastic Books in 2001. The author has now released it as an ebook, and it's well worth the read.

For more on the author and her horse books, she has a page on my website.

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