Sunday, 4 May 2014

PBOTD 4th May: Christine Pullein-Thompson - The Second Mount

The Second Mount is one of those books you almost certainly had if you bought pony books in the 1960s and 1970s. I remember in my constant hunt for a book I hadn't read that whatever else a book shop didn't have, it would have a copy of the Dragon paperback of The Second Mount, and its siblings, The First Rosette and The Third Mount.
Burke, 1st edition, 1957, illus Sheila Rose
Christine's early books were conventional enough portraits of middle-class horse and pony owning, but society was changing, and she changed with it. She introduced one of earliest working class heroes to appear in a pony book, David Smith, in The First Rosette (1956). 

Dragon, 1967, illus Mary Gernat
In the first book, David Smith, a horse-mad, working class boy, manages to acquire a horse, and a friendship with the Master's daughter, Pat. The Second Mount sees David and Pat running their own riding school. David’s poverty and need to work to achieve his ambition of show jumping success is contrasted with Pat's altogether easier life. County girls were expected to go to London, do a season as a debutante, and catch a wealthy and suitable husband. Pat's expected to go, and she's not entirely hostile to the idea. Despite David's misgivings, Pat moves to London, and the riding school is broken up.
Dragon, 1970s, cover uncredited
Funnily enough, for a ponymad child, I didn't resent Pat for her decision to well and truly dump David in it: I think because I found his constant swoops between joy and gloom wearing, and was surprised Pat stood him as long as she did. Mind you, if truth be told, I wasn't that keen on Pat either, and on reading the books again, I think they deserved each other.

For much, much more on Christine Pullein-Thompson, see her page on my website.

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