Thursday, 17 July 2014

PBOTD 17th July - Caroline Akrill - The Silver Bridle

Today's PBOTD is another in the J A Allen Equestrian Fiction series. I am cheating a bit to call this a PBOTD, because The Silver Bridle is actually all three books of Caroline Akrill's Grace Darling series, about an actress who gets a part by claiming she can ride. She can't, and is shipped off for a crash course.



Not only that, she has to convince her back home boyfriend and her family that she can act and isn’t
wasting her time until she does the dutiful thing, and marries and settles down. Grace arrives at Moat Farm Stables for a four week riding course. Her instructor seems on another planet, and the farm’s owner has met Grace before and didn’t like what he saw. Grace does, of course, learn to ride, and she also learns that her back home boyfriend doesn't really have her best interests at heart. In the last part of the trilogy, the production of The Hooves of the Horses, the TV series in which Grace has
a leading role, starts filming, but the production is hit by one disaster after another.
Make Me a Star
Grafton Books (Collins), London, hb, 1986, 107 pp, left
Dragon, pb, 1987
Armada, pb, 1988 right
As part of Silver Bridle trilogy, J A Allen, pb, 1993, 305 pp.

Grace, an actress, gets a role in a TV series.  The one problem she has is that
she’s supposed to be able to ride, and she can’t.  So, she has to learn, as well
as convince her back home boyfriend and her family that she can act and isn’t
wasting her time until she settles down.
wp555e02b8_0f.jpg
Stars Don’t Cry
Collins, London, 1987, 109 pp, left
Armada, London, 1988, right (this is stated as first edition)
As part of Silver Bridle trilogy, J A Allen, pb, 1993, 305 pp.

Grace arrives at Moat Farm Stables for a four week riding course.  Her
instructor seems on another planet, and the farm’s owner has met Grace
before and didn’t like what he saw.

Catch a Falling Star
Armada, London, 1988 (stated first edition), 111pp.
As part of Silver Bridle trilogy, J A Allen, pb, 1993, 305 pp.

At last the production of The Hooves of the Horses, the TV series in which Grace has
a leading role, has started filming.  The production is hit by one disaster after another.

The Silver Bridle trilogy of novels was a complete change of direction after Caroline's much darker Flying Changes, which sees Oliver Jasny, dressage hero, kill himself. Collins commissioned Caroline to write a trilogy on horses and acting, to go with Peter Aykroyd’s Gymnast Gilly trilogy, and a ballet trilogy. Although Caroline didn’t have any stage experience herself - “I don’t think I have an inner actress, but my daughter went to stage school so it must be in the genes somewhere!” she was able to draw on a lot of expertise. K M Peyton’s Flambards stories had been made into a television series, and she and Christine McKenna, who played the lead, Christina, gave her a lot of technical background. 

“Chrissie helped with some of the technical acting bits & location work, as did Kathleen. Howard King is a lighting engineer and he took me on a tour of ‘television city’ and gave lots of advice on filming and lighting. John Cotton, my cousin, introduced me to Howard. Anthony Stafford, another cousin (an actor) read bits for authenticity, and Sylvia Stanier, a dear friend, trained horses for film & circus work and advised on that.” 

Like Caroline’s other stories, the Silver Bridle stories have a classic romantic hero in Anthony, owner of the Moat Farm Stables where Grace is sent to learn to ride. Romance is something that now it is very difficult to publish a pony book for teenagers without. How times have changed. When Josephine Pullein-Thompson wrote Pony Club Camp, in 1957, in which Noel and Henry probably – it isn’t actually definite – kiss, very chastely, right at the end of the book, her publishers, Collins, were horrified, and told Josephine to write no more of the series. How times had changed by the 1980s. Was there any difficulty with having romance in the series, I asked? 

“I was actively encouraged to get into the romance in the novels,” Caroline said. “I think things have moved on since the Pullein-Thompsons, and look how Harry Potter has grown up!”

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More on J A Allen's pony book library
Caroline Akrill on the Silver Bridle series
More on Caroline Akrill

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