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, because I'd seen it listed, but I didn't see a copy until I was in my forties. That's a gap of a good thirty years since I'd found out the book existed. And The Radney Riding Club was the same. I knew it was out there, but I didn't see one (Six Ponies was the same).

I don't think today's children will ever understand the huge excitement; the thrill, of finally, after decades, getting your hands on a book you'd longed to read as a child but never found. Because for them, everything is obtainable: in some cases as long as you're prepared to pay for it, but every book is out there, somewhere, and getting it is often a case of simply being prepared to wait the few days before it's delivered. Not decades.

I think out of all the books I'd longed to read as a child, The Radney Riding Club and Six Ponies were the ones that gave me the greatest pleasure to find. In an ideal world I admit I would have preferred not to wait decades, but that did make the sheer joy of reading them at last all the more intense.

And fortunately both books were very well worth it. I'd never known that Noel and Henry had ventured out from the shelter of Major Holbrooke's estate, which they do in Radney, as it's set at Henry's home. There was an entirely different set of characters, most of whom didn't appear in the other books.

I think, for me, this book will always be coloured by how long I had to wait for it. Reading it was all the sweeter for having had to wait.

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One of the first things I did as the Internet became a 'thing' was track down the one "Jill" title I didn't have. A noble relative had indeed supplied the other 8 books, bringing them back to the States for me when I was a little kid in the 1960s, but I had to wait til the '90s before I found it online at a small place in Scotland called, I think, The Little Yellow Bookshop. I even paid for it in cash, mailing some leftover money from a trip to the UK from years prior! Now, of course, it'd be a cinch to find a zillion copies of it online, but although I certainly don't endorse having to wait several decades to finish reading the series, well, it certainly added a frisson of adventure and discovery to my office-chair life :)
Jane Badger said…
Even now finally finding something on the internet is good. Mind you, I expect your final reading of Jill Has Two Ponies was rather more exciting than when I finally tracked down Mrs Peter Waits' The Right Hand Man - sadly the thrill of finally finding it was far greater than the thrill of reading it.

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