Showing posts from October, 2014

PBOTD 31st October: Gordon Wright - Learning to Ride, Hunt and Show

Today's PBOTD is one of my more tenuous efforts to connect with the National Horse Show. Today's author, Gordon Wright, was a successful show jumper in his own right, as well as a fine trainer. In 1962, the National Horse Show honoured the winners of the Hunter Seat Equitation Championship: over half of them were students, or former students, of Gordon Wright. He trained members of the United States Equestrian Team too.

Learning to Ride, Hunt and Show (1966) is (as you have probably worked out) not fiction at all. I'm including it because it's illustrated by Sam Savitt and I love his work. Gordon Wright did write a work of fiction (The Winning Streak, publication date unknown), but all I have to go on for the book's plot is a brief summary, I can't tell whether it should be included here or not. As I'm skirting round the subject anyway, I might as well, so here it is:

Daphne Van Allen is not a gracious winner. She thinks she can forget about sportsmanship an…

PBOTD 30th October: Paul Brown - Hi Guy, the Cinderella Horse

Today's book is a real life story. It's written and illustrated by Paul Brown, probably the most sought after equine illustrator in America. Paul Brown started his career as a commercial illustrator, a career interrupted when he left America to serve with the First Light Infantry Division in World War I. He missed death by inches when a grenade shot past him just as he turned his head. When he returned to America, he picked up the reins of his business again, and carried on doing commercial illustration.

He wrote and illustrated several children's stories, one of which is Hi Guy, the Cinderella Horse (1944)The horse, Robin, was rescued from a pound after his owner abandoned the horse when he moved away, and left the horse to starve. Just before he was about to be destroyed, the horse was bought by a riding academy owner for $5. The horse, renamed Hi Guy, more than repaid the $5 purchase price. Once fit, he went from strength to strength, showing an unexpected talent for …

PBOTD 6th November: Josephine Pullein-Thompson - Prince Among Ponies

I have an uneasy feeling I might have already covered this book once, but I do not care. It's one of my favourite pony books, let alone one of my favourite JPTs. And it has one of my favourite covers. I have no idea who did the beautiful illustration for the 1970s Armada edition (pictured below), and I wish I did, because I'd love to tell them how very much loved that cover is: and not just by me.

Prince Among Ponies (1952) features someone who popped up frequently in her books: the person who will not listen. Six Ponies was dripping with them, with Evelyn Radcliffe being possibly one of the worst. In Prince Among Ponies, it's bolshy Jane who takes this role. Hero and heroine of the book Patrick and Sara have gone to stay for the summer with Jane’s family, the Merrimans. Patrick and Sara live in suburban London, where they have learned to ride with an instructor who has Pullein-Thompson approved attitudes to equitation. 

The Merriman family have horses, but have learned to r…

PBOTD 29th October: Margaret S Johnson - Silver Dawn

Today's PBOTD is Margaret S Johnson's Silver Dawn (1958), the next in my National Horse Show series. This one is about Julia Braddock, and her horse Silver Dawn. Julia's father runs a training stable, and he helps Julia get Silver Dawn ready for Madison Square Garden. It's one of those bittersweet stories. As often happens when your parent earns their living from horses, those horses have to be sold, and the more successful they are, the more money you get for them. Sadly for Julia, that is exactly what happens to her.

Author Margaret S Johnson wrote and illustrated Silver Dawn, but several of her other books were illustrated by her mother, Helen Lossing Johnson. Below is Stablemates (1942), which is particularly pretty. 

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PBOTD 28th October: Eric Hatch - Year of the Horse

Today's PBOTD, and those for the next few days are all related (sometimes a bit tenuously, I admit) to the National Horse Show in America. When I was researching this post I found out a whole load of things I hadn't known before. The show was held at not one, but three versions of Madison Square Gardens in New York. It was started in 1883 by a group of sportsmen, and in 1890 moved to the second Madison Square Gardens. And in 1926, it moved to the third Madison Square Gardens. In 2011, it moved yet again, but this time right out of New York to the Kentucky Horse Park.

Eric Hatch, author of today's book Year of the Horse (1965), was an author, owned a radio station, and was an expert horseman, a judge and a steward of the American Horse Shows Association.

Year of the Horse is the story of an advertising executive, Freddie Bolton, who works on Madison Avenue (I told you some of these connections were tenuous). He has an adored daughter, and when she asks for a horse, that'…

PBOTD 27th October: Samantha Alexander - the Riding School Series

I think this is going to be a post which is principally of pretty pictures, because my lovely plan, which was to read some of these stories before I featured them, hasn't actually come to anything. What I will say is that I think this series is possibly the first in the UK pony book world to write an entire series from different points of view in each book. Do correct me if you think I'm wrong. It's a format that has been used relatively recently by Kelly McKain in her Pony Camp Diaries series.

The Riding School Series

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PBOTD 26th October: Alexa Romanes - The Gift Horse

Today's PBOTD is the second pony book by Alexa Romanes. In the first, Save the Horses (1983), heroine Kelsie comes down from London to spend the summer with Roger and Toby at Crantock, their parents’Cornish farm and home for ill-treated horses. When she gets there, she steps straight into a financial crisis. The three friends try to help and their lives become very busy indeed, coping with ponies and jobs and trying to sort out the problems caused by the new and badly run local riding school. 

In the next book, The Gift Horse (1985) Kelsie is training to be a riding instructress and living with the Lanyons on their farm-cum-riding stables. Her life is perfect but for one thing: she desperately wants a horse of her own. She ends up with a skewbald gelding from the circus, who has been trained to buck people off...
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PBOTD 25th October: Pat Leitch - To Save a Pony

I can't believe that I haven't already covered this book, but I haven't. It's Patricia Leitch's first book, To Save a Pony (1960), published under the name Pat Leitch in 1960. The Dallas family re-locate to Scotland and start a riding school in order to keep the wolf from the door. The family, including youngest child Jane, go to a local horse sale to find ponies, and Jane sees a pony she is desperate to save.

The conventional pony story would at this point either have Jane spending her little all on the pony (because she conveniently has savings, probably augmented by what she can beg from her siblings) or frantically coming up with some money making scheme in order to make the money to buy the pony. This scheme is, ultimately, successful. Jane tries to take the route of raising money, but it doesn't go according to the pony book plan. 

No miraculous means to buy the pony appear, and Jane has to wait until the end of the book before she sees the pony again, when…

PBOTD 24th October: Joanna Cannan - More Ponies for Jean

In yesterday's post I was wittering on about my attempt to buy fewer books. But then we come to today's book, Joanna Cannan's More Ponies for Jean (1943). Which I do not have. And I think I have all the other Joanna Cannans (just done quick check on her bibliography - yes I do, though my copy of They Bought Her a Pony is in the Three Great Pony Stories edition, and in an absolutely ideal world it would be a lovely first edition. Not that the first of TBHAP is particularly distinguished, as it's illustrated by Rosemary Robertson, who is not one of my favourite illustrators, but still.) There is some hope on the horizon, because the first Jean story, A Pony for Jean (1936) is being republished next month by Hot Key, and if sales are good they'll probably do the other two.... 

More Ponies for Jean is a particularly satisfying book from the point of view of a pony-mad girl because Jean goes on to work with horses. Of course Joanna Cannan's own daughters (Josephine,…

PBOTD 23rd October: Christine Dickenson - The Dark Horse

I am slightly handicapped attempting to write about Christine Dickenson's Dark Horse (1973)because firstly the lovely piece I'd semi-written in my head has actually used the plot of a totally different book, and when I went to find my copy of Dark Horse to check the details I found I do not actually have a copy. Ah. 

But should I buy one? I am, although my family might not believe it, trying to cut down on the number of books I buy. When I compare the number coming in with previous years I'm not actually doing too badly, though I have blown the budget somewhat by buying a whole load of PONY and Riding magazines from the early 1960s, and now I come to think of it I do very, very much want to acquire the PONY mags I don't have from the 1940s and 1950s which is in fact all of them. I might just pop over to eBay to see if there's any there. Because you never know. And magazines don't count as books. And they are useful for research, because I'm sure everyone e…

Review: Diana Kimpton - Princess Ellie's Perfect Plan

It's quite a few years since I read one of the Princess Ellie books. This is the latest, and it's an object lesson in how to get a nuanced story for the younger reader into 90 pages. Princess Ellie, because she's a princess, has to do things in a certain way. There are no gymkhanas for her, because the photographers and press who would flock round the moment they knew she was there would wreck it for everyone else. She has lessons on her own with the Royal Governess, and dinner is something you dress up for. Every day.

Besides her ponies, there's one person who makes all this bearable for Ellie: her best friend Kate. Kate is the grand daughter of the palace cook, and lives with her grandparents because her parents are often away working. And then they come back, with the news that they're going to send Kate to boarding school.
Both girls are horrified - Ellie will have to go back to doing things on her own, and Kate doesn't want to leave everything she knows. …

PBOTD 22nd October: Jean Slaughter Doty - The Crumb

Today's book looks at riding schools in America, although to be fair Ashford Stables are rather more of a training establishment for people with their own horses than anything else. Still, human nature is the same everywhere. Heroine of this book, Cindy, gets a summer job at Ashford. A dream come true, she thinks. 

Cindy loves horses with that slightly misty passion common to so many girls, and it's a terrible shock to her when she realises just how far some of the people at Ashford will go in order to win. Mind you, ruthlessness in the pursuit of success has not exactly gone away. There are still, sadly, any amount of shenanigans going on in the showing world, and if I can pick out just one truly hideous example about which I've written in the past, Tennessee Walking Horses are still sored to produce the Big Lick, a slightly bizarre gait much prized by people who show the horse.

This has been going on for years. People have been exposed on Youtube for the practice, and le…

PBOTD 21st October: Christine Pullein-Thompson - They Rode to Victory

They Rode to Victory (1972) is the sequel to Riders on the March. The comprehensive school team is going to compete against a team from a smart girls’ school. This is something of a fixture: the poor team never competes against another, possibly even less well off team. (K M Peyton's Who Sir? Me Sir? and Zita White's The One Day Ponies come to mind). They always have to show that grit and determination can win out against teams dripping with cash and wonderful ponies.

Life of course is not fair, and in real life sometimes those teams might have won, but it's just as likely not. Literature though is often about fairytales, and morality. If you worked hard, maybe you too could do as well.

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PBOTD 20th October: Christine Pullein-Thompson - Riders on the March

There were a few books I acquired as first editions, and Christine Pullein-Thompson's Riders on the March (1970) was one of them. Of the Pullein-Thompsons, it was Christine who worked hardest at being relevant. Even in the 1950s, decade of the middle class pony owning child, Christine used working class characters. The First Rosette (1956) had as its hero David Smith, the youngest son of a family where money really is an issue: David’s family genuinely struggle, and there is no money for riding lessons, let alone ponies. 
David's struggle is contrasted with the far more conventional pony life of Pat, the daughter of the Master. After David catches Pat's pony when she falls off, he is invited to tea and offered the chance to borrow a pony. Christine carried on introducing working class characters, with Janice and Mick in The Lost Pony (1959). All these characters, and the comprehensive school pupils in Riders on the March, are all prone to the same mercurial swoops from hap…

PBOTD 19th October: Kathleen Mackenzie - Minda

It took me several years to write Heroines on Horseback, my book on the pony book. When the book finally had its last edit, my editor asked me for more quotations from several books, but I had to say no because I didn't actually have a copy of the book myself. There were several books I analysed and made notes on and then promptly sold. Minda (1953) was one of them, and sadly it made so little impression on me it didn't even make it into my book. It does carry on the theme of riding clubs, because heroine Minda Budge (who sounds as if she should make it into a Jill book on the strength of her name alone) joins a Pony Club started by three children. As we saw a couple of days ago, joining a club run by your peers can be tricky, and so it proves here. Another member of the club, Jill, is jealous of Minda's talents and schemes to keep her out of an event in which she will represent the club. I think you can probably work out the outcome for yourselves.

Minda is another book i…

PBOTD 18th October: Christine Leslie - Four Start a Riding Club

Today's PBOTD is another book that's more notable for its illustrator than anything else. Christine Leslie's Four Start a Riding Club (1963) is one of those books which had sunk into total obscurity. I first ferreted it out myself when I wrote about Anne Bullen for Fidra Books' newsletter. It was cheap as chips at the time as no one else had even heard of it, so I hoovered up a copy. 

Sadly the book wasn't an undiscovered gem. The Tollhouse Riding Club is launched by Karen, Gilla, John and Patrick. They don’t agree about much, and have some healthy fights about how to do things, but do in the end manage to get the Riding Club going successfully. And that's about it, really.

Illustrator of the book, Anne Bullen, died young at the age of 50 in 1963, and Four Start a Riding Club was the last pony book she illustrated. If you follow my Facebook page, keep watching, because I have an exciting Anne Bullen related giveaway coming up.

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Review: Carolyn Henderson - Beside Me

Carolyn Henderson’s Beside Me is based on her Grey Ghost, which she originally wrote for Caroline Akrill at J A Allen. If you’ve read that book, don’t assume you’ve already read Beside Me, because you haven’t. There are a few similarities, but Beside Me is a very different book. I liked the original, but I love this version. It’s subtle, involving, moving: I read it for the second time at our local coffee shop, having forgotten that it made me cry the first time. 

Corinne has a lot to contend with. She doesn’t fit in at school. She’s not, as queen of the school Penny makes clear, one of the cool kids. She is, Penny says, horses obsessed – Corinne says she’d rather look round a tack shop than Top Shop. And Corinne sometimes hears things, and sees things, that really shouldn’t be there. This doesn’t stop her being able to connect with horses: her favourite is Secret, an unbroken pony at the stables Corinne rides at. But the stables are closing, and all the horses and ponies, including …

PBOTD 17th October: D A Young - Ponies in Secret

D A Young's Ponies in Secret (1955) is another book about a riding club, but it's also about what happens when power goes to people's heads. When the book opens our heroes are hugely excited by the prospect of a summer filled with ponies. They're even more excited when they learn there's a local riding club, but then they meet the people who run it, who are not actually much older than them, but have rigid ideas on what's what. The book is a well observed story of the wielding of power, and of how easy it is to misinterpret what people do.

Ponies in Secret is illustrated by Maurice Tulloch. I often burble on about how the classic pony book seems to exist in a sun-drenched eternal summer. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and the ponies all smart and glossy. Maurice Tulloch captures this vision in his pony book illustration. I do wonder if it made a difference from his hunting illustration, hunting necessarily being often rather bleak, as much of it takes plac…

PBOTD 16th October: Elinore Havers - The Surprise Riding Club

This is Elinore Havers' first appearance in PBOTD, and it's taken her 10 months. This is I suppose because she's not one of my favourite authors, and so she, like a few others, has taken something of a back seat in PBOTD.  Her Surprise Riding Club is an ok sort of read - pedestrian, if I'm being honest.

Sarah and her friends start a riding club during the summer holidays so they can improve their riding. The “Surprise” element comes in as each President is supposed to provide a surprise for the members when they finish their time as President.
Most of Elinore Havers' books were published in the Crown Pony Library series. The Surprise Riding Club was published by Collins, and made an appearance in the Collins Pony Library. I wonder if the appearance of her books in pony libraries is the key to understanding her appeal: she writes books which tick all the boxes required by the pony lover, and is utterly reliable in doing so.
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PBOTD 15th October: Josephine Pullein-Thompson - The Radney Riding Club

I wonder if children today will ever understand the frustrations of living in pre-internet world? Before the world wide web, you simply couldn't find everything you wanted with a quick Google search. Finding secondhand books, for a start, could take years, if you even managed it at all. When I was a child, what books I read depended on:
a. Whether the local library had them b. Whether our (rather limited) supply of local bookshops had them c. Whether a noble relative living elsewhere found the book d. Whether I hit the jackpot at a jumble sale (vanishingly rare) e.  Whether I could borrow the book from a friend - not something that happened often as none of my friends were pony book fans.
Publishers of course want you to buy their books, so as well as handy lists of the books in a series, they used to put page long descriptions of other books you might like at the end of the book.  These, to me, were hideously tantalising. I knew Monica Edwards' Punchbowl Midnight existed, be…

PBOTD October 14th: Monica Edwards - Killer Dog

I've reached the end of the HOYS section, so am doing a swift detour back because I didn't include Monica Edwards' Killer Dog in my round up of her books. Granted, it isn't particularly horsey, but then neither are quite a few of her other titles, and I've included them. This one I just plain forgot.

Killer Dog is a novelisation of the film The Dawn Killer. I thought the book had first seen the light of day as a script written by Monica, but I'm not sure whether or not this is the case. The book is set on Romney Marsh, and that's where the film was shot too. The book isn't, however, a Tamzin story.
The heroes in this one are the Hawkes family. Sheep are being killed by a dog, and suspicion falls on two dogs: the Hawkes Glen, and another dog, Lion. The Hawkes are determined to prove Glen is
innocent, and wait out on the Marsh to try and discover which dog is the attacker.
Sadly this book is based in fact. Before we moved a couple of years ago, the field n…

PBOTD 13th October: Victoria Eveleigh - Joe and the Race to the Rescue

I know HOYS has finished, but the organisers had, sadly, failed to extend the show for an extra day so I can fit in all of the HOYS books I wanted to feature. So, there's one more HOYS book today, and that's Joe and the Race to the Rescue  (2014), the last in Victoria Eveleigh's Joe trilogy. 

In this book, Joe has outgrown his first pony Lightning, and has another brilliant games pony - Fortune - on loan. Fortune, however, is not the same pony Lightning was. Not at all, and Joe can't seem to work out how to ride her. Fortune is beginning to frighten him. Help comes from an unexpected source: at his aikido class, Joe learns to visualise calm. From his traveller neighbour, Nellie, he learns that horses live in the moment, and that Fortune needs to learn to trust him. Slowly, and carefully, Joe and Fortune begin to build their relationship. Fortune emerges as a real pony, not something who's the vehicle of Joe's wants and desires.

Joe does in the end succeed at g…

PBOTD 12th October: Patricia Leitch - Dream of Fair Horses

If you've never read Dream of Fair Horses, you are in for a treat. It's certainly one of Patricia Leitch's best books, if not the best. When you read it, you can see where Jinny came from, but it's not necessary to have read the Jinny books to appreciate what Patricia Leitch does with the pony book here. What I actually want to do in this piece is quote reams and reams from the book, but I will restrict myself, because really all those quotations sit better when welded in to the rest of the book. 

Gill Caridia is one of a family of seven, whose author father, Laurence Caridia writes novels of the sort that critics love but nobody buys. His detective novel, however, has sold so well he's been able to buy back the family home, Hallows Noon. Up until this point, the Caridias have led a nomadic life, moving from place to place as their always-precarious fortunes fluctuate, but this time the family hope they have settled. All sorts of visions of normal life lie before t…

PBOTD 11th October: Gillian Baxter - The Team from Low Moor

The best pony book authors create characters who convince you no matter what end of the social spectrum they're from. Many of Gillian Baxter's heroines, like Bobby in the Bracken Stables books, and Frandia in Horses and Heather are monied. In contrast, there are those who approach the horse world from the opposite end of the income scale. Lindy Smith, the gipsies’ daughter of Horses and Heather, has to some extent taken on the behavioural models of her parents when she decides to keep the filly she finds wandering on the moors, though she knows she must belong to someone. 

Furiously ambitious but poor Edie, whose only hope of succeeding with horses is to work with them, causes an accident in the pursuit of her ambition in The Team from Low Moor (1965). Edie isn't actually the heroine of The Team from Low Moor - that's Charity Whitford. She runs the Pony Club. The Low Moor branch is the poor relation of a much wealthier branch, with an array of ponies only a mother could…

PBOTD 10th October: June M Groves - The Milkman's Cob

June M Groves wrote pieces for equine magazines, but as far as I'm aware, just the one book. This 

was The Milkman's Cob (1961). The heroine loses her jumping pony Larke so stops riding, until the local Dairy converts to modern vans and 'Happy' the Milkman’s cob is to be sold. It is a lovely story of his transformation from pulling a float to winning at the Horse of the Year Show in the junior jumping. It’s told in the first person, by four different narrators, which at first I thought would prove irritating, but June Groves does get enough differentiation into her characters to make this work.
Unlike many pony stories where the most pedestrian pony clears 3’ 6” with ease, Happy’s clearance of a 5’ 3” hedge is completely convincing, particularly as this so shatters his rider that she has to be slowly and gently persuaded back into jumping anything again, let alone a fence over 5 feet. The illustrations don’t do the book the favours which perhaps they might, but if you …

PBOTD 9th October: Pat Smythe - Three Jays Go to Town

Pat Smythe was a phenomenon. The first Olympic Games at which female equestrians were allowed to compete took place in Stockholm in 1956. She won a bronze medal. Pat Smythe succeeded in a world which was not friendly to the female show jumper. In the same year she won the Olympic medal (the first Olympics at which female equestrians were allowed to compete), she won the Grand Prix Militaire at the International Show in Lucerne in 1956. Another woman rider came second, but the cup was presented to the French officer who came third, and it was his name that was engraved on it. 

Unlike many other international riders of the time, Pat had no family or other money behind her. With her mother, she ran their rented house, Miserden (which later appeared in her Three Jays series), as a boarding house for agricultural students, and for children whose parents wanted them to have a country holiday, and this, with a little horse dealing, funded her riding.  After the tragic death of her mother i…

PBOTD 8th October: Dorian Williams - Wendy at Wembley

It is one of those things that really dates you - can you remember the glory days of show jumping on television, when after the news finished (about 9.30 pm in those days) you'd get a full week of show jumping from HOYS? I remember the joy of being allowed to stay up to watch it (I had a mother who was keen on early bed times). 
Dorian Williams (1914-1985) was the voice of show jumping on television. He commentated in the glory days of horses on television, when every evening programme of the Horse of the Year Show and the Royal International Horse Show was televised. Educated at Harrow, he had a full life: besides commentating; he was involved with the British Horse Society as a member of its council, and Chairman; and was instrumental in setting up the National Equestrian Centre at Stoneleigh. He was also Master of the Whaddon Chase Hunt. He used his family home, Pendley, for a Shakespeare Festival, and set up a Centre of Adult Education there.

As well as all this, he found time …

PBOTD 7th October: Monica Edwards - Under the Rose

Monica Edwards' Under the Rose (1968) is quite unlike her Punchbowl and Romney Marsh series: there's no gentle Cascade here: the horse in this story is far worse than Lindsay's colt Chalice with his nipping. This horse can kill, and one of the children in the book has a particularly terrifying experience before the horse relents in its pursuit.

The horse is part of the mysterious world of the shut-up country house, Kings Somborne, that enchants the Black and Hunter children. It's there that the horse, and his groom end up. Their lives are in turmoil, but so are the children’s. The Blakes’ desire is not getting a pony, but finding somewhere to live, now that their father has announced he wants the family house for himself and his new partner. The Hunter children have parents who live together, but whose mother is so obsessed with doing good works that she rarely sees them Theirs is a different world from the comfortable, stable families of the Punchbowl and Romney Mars…

PBOTD 6th October: Monica Edwards - Joan Goes Farming

Ah, Joan Goes Farming. Published in 1954 by Bodley Head as part of its career novels series, it's a title I've never actually managed to track down. When I was writing my book, the availability of titles was occasionally a problem. How can that be, you ask, when you must have hundreds of the things? I do, but unfortunately not every title by every author, and you can safely assume that when writing a book on the things, the one title you haven't got is the one that tells you something pivotal about the author.
The Monica Edwards chapter, as originally envisaged for Heroines on Horseback, dealt just with Monica Edwards "pony" books: Wish for a  Pony, The Summer of the Great Secret, No Mistaking Corker and The Midnight Horse. It didn't take long until I'd stretched this out to include some of her other stories, arguably just as horsey as those four: Cargo of Horses, for one. I had shillied and shallied while writing the book, until it was suggested to me q…

PBOTD 5th October: Monica Edwards - Rennie Goes Riding

I'm spending the next few days rounding up the Monica Edwards titles I haven't yet covered (with the exception of one, which will have to wait until after HOYS). Today's is one of her most reprinted titles, Rennie Goes Riding (1956)The career novel was a feature of the 1950s, with series aimed at both girls and boys. Rennie Goes Riding was part of a series published by Bodley Head which involved such stirring tales as Diana Seton, Veterinary Surgeon, Air Hostess Ann, and Margaret Becomes a Doctor.

All the stories gave you a decent idea of what a career would actually be like: but almost all ended with a hint of romance, leaving you wondering what the aim of the book was. Were you to do the career, or get married, or somehow combine both? Rennie does indeed end the novel contemplating a possible romance with Morgan Davy. It looks as if the farming life he contemplates does involve horses, so I hope that Rennie would have gone on to do something with her painfully acquired …

PBOTD October 4th: Monica Edwards - A Wind is Blowing

Today marks the end of the Monica Edwards Romney Marsh series, with A Wind is Blowing (1969)

Although ponies become a less important element in Tamzin’s life as she gets older, the part an animal can play when human comfort will not do comes touchingly into play in the last of the Romney Marsh books,  A Wind is Blowing (1969).  Tamzin, overwhelmed by grief when Meryon rejects her after he is blinded trying to stop a bank robbery, seeks refuge with Cascade. It is a wonderful picture and completely unsentimental; Cascade’s real interest, I am sure is in his hay, but nevertheless his presence does what is required, and Tamzin is comforted. Crying  bitterly and desolately for a long time it seemed as if grief and hopelessness began to go out of her with the tears, until there was only a clear calm like the sea after storm. She had been drifting in that storm, but now her boat was answering to the helm again,
and there was  a star to steer by. With a wisp of hay in his teeth Cascade turn…