PBOTD 28th November: Gillian Baxter - Ribbons and Rings

I will make heroic efforts to get myself back on track for this piece. Gillian Baxter's Ribbons and Rings (1960) nods towards one of Gillian Baxter's other loves: fast cars. Her hero Shaun O'Rorke has been trying to earn his living as a driver. Unfortunately, he's crashed rather often, and so has decided to come home from Spain, with his stallion Toreador, and make a living from horses.

Parents and those responsible for teenagers don't always get an easy ride in Gillian Baxter's books. There to help Shaun are girl groom Pauline, and the reluctant debutante Leslie Marsh. She wants to help Shaun make a success of riding a wealthy owner's show jumpers, but her parents are violently opposed to this plan.

The Marsh parents finally acknowledge Leslie’s feelings, though her unromantically practical mother sees Leslie’s work at the stables as an opportunity to keep an eye on her, and perhaps redirect her towards a far more suitable match than Shaun.

“Lady Marsh decided that Della might be right about the depths of Leslie’s feelings for this surprising pleasant, almost charming young man.... In any case, thought Lady Marsh, even if Leslie was fond of him, she was far too young to think of marriage yet, and with her back at Ambleton her mother felt that she would be able to keep a closer watch on any increase in their liking for each other. It was one of the very few advantages that she could see in the collapse of her plans for Leslie’s future.”

There was no sequel to Ribbons and Rings, but I don't think for one moment that Lady Marsh got her way.

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More on Gillian Baxter


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