Saturday, 20 September 2014

PBOTD 16th September: Monica Edwards - Punchbowl Midnight

Today carries on the mopping up theme: in a bit of a panic lest I miss out some of the seminal works of equine fiction, I'm making sure I include them here. There will be a bit of a blip next month for the Horse of the Year Show, but for the next week it's Monica Edwards, Monica Edwards, all the way.



I'm going to cover her Punchbowl Farm series first of all, purely because I loved them most. My family, one generation back, were farmers, and when I was small the family farms were all there, and I knew them all. They were mostly arable, with the exception of the pig unit. I loved the pigs. Pigs are sadly rather thin on the ground in the Punchbowl series, but there are plenty of cows, and not the everyday black and white Friesians which were the only cows I knew, but the exotic Jerseys, with their vast dark eyes.

The Jersey seems to be a skittish breed: certainly the ones the Thornton family of Punchbowl farm have, at any rate. Oldest boy Dion is determined to be a farmer, and breeding a line of top Jersey cows is part of his plan. The whole series sees real conflict between Lindsay, Dion's younger sister, who loves the wildness surrounding the farm, and her brother Dion, for whom farming is a vocation, and who wants the land to be as productive as possible. Midnight, who gives her name to today's book, Punchbowl Midnight (1951), is one of the first calves Dion breeds, but she escapes, and runs with the deer.

Dion and Lindsay have radically different ideas on the deer. Though Dion sees their beauty, he is only too vividly aware of the damage they cause the farmer. Lindsay sees their beauty, and wants them simply to run free.
“Five Y-shaped heads jerked up from eager grazing. Large frightened eyes started at her for a second, no more, and in swift lissom bounds the deer were gone.
So they had found Dion’s corn. It had been expected, but he would be furious, of course. How could he be expected to see how beautiful they were when his corn was being trampled down and eaten?” Punchbowl Midnight (1951)


One of the things that makes this series succeed is the subtlety of the portrait of Lindsay: she can see her brother's point of view, and continues to do so as the farm lurches from disaster to an uneasy equilibrium.

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The Punchbowl Series
No Mistaking Corker
Black Hunting Whip
Punchbowl Midnight
Spirit of Punchbowl Farm
The Wanderer
Punchbowl Harvest
Frenchman's Secret
The Cownappers
The Outsider
Fire in the Punchbowl
The Wild One
More on Monica Edwards
Everything you ever wanted to know on Monica Edwards and her books: John Allsup's site

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