PBOTD: 12th April, Shirley Faulkner-Horne - White Poles

I was going to write a blog piece on how tricky it is to feature a book when you don't actually have a copy, but then I investigated my shelves and found that I do have one. I do in fact have quite a few books I hadn't realised I'd acquired. And which I haven't read. I have in fact read White Poles (1954)and its sequel, Look Before You Leap. White Poles is one of Shirley Faulkner-Horne's later books, and it has a certain similarity in plot to her first, Bred in the Bone, published in 1938. The heroine of Bred in the Bone, Cherry, is not allowed to ride after someone in her family was killed by a horse, but her grandmother, who doesn't really approve of such fancies, gives Cherry a pony. Fortunately the head gardener was in the Cavalry, and he teaches her to jump so she can fulfil her dream of riding at Olympia.

Witherby, 1st edn, 1954, illus Peter Biegel

The later White Poles has a heroine, Jenny, who was only allowed to potter about on an elderly pony, as someone in her family had been killed in a hunting accident, leading Jenny's mother to be, perhaps understandably, less than keen to allow her daughter to thunder around the countryside, and certainly not to jump. However, her grandmother gives her a pony for her birthday. The cowman used to be in the cavalry, and he teaches her to jump so she can fulfil her ambition to ride at the International Horse Show.

Jenny rides again in Look Before You Leap (1955) where, grown up now, she tackles the far more thorny problem of attempting to marry a jockey. Fortunately parental disapproval melts once it becomes clear Jenny's beloved is from a decent, county family, and they find it in themselves to overlook his unfortunate addiction to riding horses for money.

Shirley Faulkner-Horne's books were very much of their time and class. I did find interesting contemporary criticism of them: Col C E G Hope is unimpressed with the deceit some of Faulkner-Horne's characters carry out. Cherry, in Bred in the Bone, only fulfils her ambition by “telling a lot of fibs to her parents” which the Riding review of the book “must warn them [readers] not to do.” Alas Jenny catches the deceit, as well as the plot, from Cherry. History does not relate, as far as I'm aware, what Riding thought of it.

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For more on Shirley Faulkner-Horne and her books, she has a page on my website.


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