Desert Island Pony Books: John Rees

I'm delighted to welcome John Rees to the blog to talk about his desert island book choices.

John is a man of many talents: he's an expert on vintage antiques, and is starring in the S4C programme Trysorau’r Teulu that started this week (for those who don't speak Welsh, subtitles are available!) He is co-founder of Cow and Ghost Vintage, and organises vintage fairs across Wales. John's also the founder of the very popular Ruby Ferguson Facebook group celebrating all things Jill. So will John choose a Jill book? I think we know the answer ...


Jill's Pony Trek by Ruby Ferguson
I've adored Jill for over 35 years and she has never lost her charm. I read them out of order after discovering the fourth in Granny's attic. Hard to chose a favourite. This is perhaps slightly different from the format of the rest: less gymkhana and school and set in a shorter time period. I like the road trip style of it and how the events flow into each other in such an unexpected way. I also think it's the funniest. The Mrs Appleyard sequence still makes me laugh out loud. 

Eventer's Dream by Caroline Akrill
I feel for Elaine. The Fane's could drive a saint to – well anything really ... Funny and heart warming trilogy, but I'm choosing this one as it is the most 'stand alone' as a one off novel of the three. The writing is so alive. Caroline Akrill has always been able to make me believe in her 'people'. I still get upset when things look really bleak for the Fanes in the third. The last scene of the third always brings a tear to my eye, so on an island, I'll stick with this. 

Flambards by K M Peyton
A wonderful writer in many different genres, and this was the first I read: a set school book in Form 3. Couldn't believe my luck!! Swiftly bought the other three. I've yet to see the television series and still have my own image of Flambards from school days. Love how the saga evolved, and didn't see the ending coming. Who could? I know when I read it on the island I shall be really annoyed I can't go straight into The Edge Of The Cloud.

Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
I adore Tey and Dorothy L Sayers. Thought I'd better get an adult one in. Brat is my favourite Tey. Not sure if it's the VERY clever plot or how the setting on first reading reminded me of the pony books of my youth that make it a favourite from an author who wrote eight faultless mysteries. Brat riding round the estate meeting the locals could be straight out of 'Jill'. The quarry scene at the end could be Stephen King. This book has it all. 

Flying Changes by Caroline Akrill
Yes!! Caroline again and justifiably so. No review I could ever write will do justice to this little masterpiece. Not what I was expecting after having read her others. It's darkly compulsive. I will never forget the chill I felt at the end. The epilogue / last monologue from Kathryn: words fail. I love this under valued gem. I can't imagine not having a copy ... 

The one I'd pay NOT to take .... Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
I know!! It's a classic!! Shoot me!! I was given a copy when I was at the height of my pony book reading. Not a phase, as have yet to stop. It was a thoughtful gift, but I couldn't get on with it – not keen on the style. It can't be the period, as I read and re-read the Susan Coolidge 'Katy' books, with the first written just 5 years before Black Beauty. Tried again in University when looking for works to compare with Frances Hodgson Burnett and failed. The thought of having it and nothing else unread on an island is not something I relish. Sorry Anna. Loved by thousands, but not me ...


Thank you John! It's always fascinating to find out what people like and why. If you'd like to read more desert island pony book choices, you can read about author Cressida Ellen Schofield, or perhaps mine.


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