Like many other girls, I went through the “horse” phase. In real life I saved up for years to buy a tank of a gelding called Robert (with hooves the size of dinnerplates) and I devoured every horse related book I could find.
KM Peyton is one of the few writers who have stuck with me since that obsessive and occasionally desperate consumption of equestrian texts.
Perhaps the most well known of her stories is the Flambards series – four books which tell the story of Christina, Mark, Will, Dick, the roan mare Sweetbriar (God I didn’t have to Google that, I’m impressed – and slightly freaked out), and the changing wartime world. It’s a sweeping saga which covers love, loss, passion, pain and horses. I reread it recently, noting the layers of the story that I missed as a child. It moves me to tears each and every time.
Peyton also wrote a series which I’m working with at present for dissertation purposes. The saga of Patrick Pennington – told in several novels – amazes me. She has the ability to write stories that are so adult in nature and yet accessible. I fell into these following my experience with Ruth Hollis (Fly-by-night and The Team) and lived Ruth’s experience of love alongside her. It’s the mark of a good writer when a story just feels so easy to read and yet punches straight to the depths of the emotional turmoil of young love. It’s not patronising. It’s not “adult talks to teenagers”. It’s sympathetic and taught and powerful writing. I love her. She reminds me in a way of Antonia Forest – both writers have that same beguiling competency.
So a reccomendation; if you’re after a horsey novel to turn a young relative onto the classics, go to Fly-by-Night. It’s a wish fulfillment saga of the greatest kind with hidden depth. For love and loss and angst: Flambards. And for one of the most broodingly sexy Byronic heroes ever, start with Pennington. And, after that, if you’re still after a broodingly sexy hero, you can try Sebastian from the Sadlers Wells series but that’s another blog post…