PBOTD: 20th March, Christine Pullein-Thompson - The Horse Sale

Here's another of my favourite books - I had the Armada with the pictorial cover that's pictured below. The Horse Sale (1960) takes the same format as the earlier A Day to Go Hunting (1956), in that it tells the story of a single event from the point of view of several different characters. The Welford Horse Sale is being revived, and it has different effects on the Pony Club members. Olga does not own her horse Crusoe. He was leant to her by a dealer to school. She's done very well with him, but not made any efforts to buy him for herself, and the dealer now wants to sell him at the sale. Edwin Christie lives at Dolphin Manor; has outgrown his pony, and now wants a horse. Maurice is seven. He and his sisters have a pony, Titbits, that none of them ever ride, and so Maurice's father has arranged to send Titbits to the sale. Julia is too heavy for her piebald pony Whisky, who is continually going lame. The local riding school has just bought a new young horse, Jupiter, in the hope that he will be something for their more experienced or adult clients. The book winds its way through all these characters' involvement with the sale, until the sale happens, and all the characters find some sort of resolution.

Collins first edition, 1960, illus Sheila Rose
When I was younger I drank these books in uncritically, but a more measured read a few decades later had me being intensely irritated by Edwin: a classic Christine Pullein-Thompson character, who zooms from delight to despair. Olga is much the same way inclined, though is rather better at picking herself up afterwards.

Armada paperback, 1970s
Olga is a genius at prevarication: she's worked very hard on her loan horse, but she's kept putting off the awful moment of doing something concrete about buying him until her hand is forced when Crusoe's sent to the sale. Having spent quite literally years prevaricating about finishing my book, I admit I feel considerable sympathy with Olga.

Armada paperback, 1979
I must admit much of the charm of this book for me is in the illustrations, which I think show Sheila Rose at her best. The scan below isn't brilliant, but I think it's a great example of her work in this book. It shows Olga attempting to raise money to buy her loan horse Crusoe, by selling her books.

The Horse Sale - internal illustration
The Horse Sale was first published in 1960 with illustrations by Collins. In next appeared in an Armada paperback edition in the 1970s, with one of those intriguing uncredited covers - possibly by the same hand as Six Ponies, which was an earlier PBOTD this week. The latest, and last, edition, had a photographic cover.

For much more on Christine Pullein-Thompson, including pictures of all her books, see her page on my website.


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