Wednesday, 12 November 2014

PBOTD 12th November: Christine Pullein-Thompson - Goodbye to Hounds

In my rather illogical flitting about the pony book world, today I'm covering the last of the Chill Valley Hounds series. As its title suggests, the hunt is threatened. The Days' farm, which they only rent, is to be sold, and if that happens the Chill Valley will lose at a stroke its kennels, and most of its hunt staff. Goodbye to Hounds sees the two families who make up the hunt fighting to survive.



One of the things of which hunts used to be accused (and occasionally still are) is riding where they shouldn't without any care for the consequences. Sadly Goodbye to Hounds includes a text book example of this. They ride over gardens and are selfishly unmoved by their trespass:

”We rode into the garden belonging to the largest of the two houses. We rode up some steps, across a rockery and through a tennis court. We heard shouts behind us, but we didn’t care because we had seen a little wicket gate giving access to the wood, and because this was probably our last hunt with the Chill Valley Foxhounds and we wanted to enjoy ourselves more than anything else in the world.”

The two apologise on the way out, but the characterisation of the two householders by what they wear is distressingly belittling:

“They looked very cross, and Andrew raised his crash cap and said: “I’m very sorry to have disturbed you, sir,” to the man who stood in front of us wearing plus fours and carrying a golf club, and, “We haven’t done any damage, madam,” to the woman, who was wearing a windcheater and a tweed skirt.”


Whatever one’s views on hunting, this is not impressive. Goodbye to Hounds was reprinted, and to some extent updated, in 1990, and I wondered if this episode would have been cut, but no. 



That said, the book is not a bad read: it's the usual Pullein-Thompson tale of adversity overcome, and the characters of the Dashwood and Day families provide an interesting tension. The Dashwoods believe in perseverance until all hope is gone; the Days are convinced there is nothing they can do. It is probably not giving too much away to say that perseverance wins, in the end.

Chill Valley
We Hunted Hounds
I Carried the Horn
Goodbye to Hounds

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More on Christine Pullein-Thompson

1 comment:

Alexandra Roach said...

I am not sure why you find the description of the householders belittling. I think it is a simple description of typical weekend clothes of the time and not judgmental. I don't think it is the equivalent of saying people were wearing shell suits in a novel set in the 90s or even the slightly barbed comments in All Change / Hidden Horse.