Monday, 31 October 2016

Flambards by K.M. Peyton

"Christina wondered why, when she was an heiress, she had to be so utterly penniless for all the years before twenty-one".

It appeals to my juvenile sense of humour that Christina really likes Dick. I shall stop behaving like a naughty school boy and return to the subject at hand. Christina is an orphan who is due to come into a considerable inheritance upon her maturity, however, her childhood sees her passed from relative to relative. The novel begins with the latest move to her Uncle's estate, where if you're not into riding and hunting, well you're basically nothing. Christina has to learn to ride and to pick sides amongst her relatives. Uncle Russell is a frustrated hunter, unable to ride anymore after an accident. His two sons Mark and Will are polar opposites and then there's the delightful Dick, who helpfully teaches Christina how to ride.

This novel was on 2 of my to read lists - the 1001 children books to read before you die (its always before you die- let's hope that is a long way off, if only to get through all the lists) and also Julia Golding's top 10 characters from children's historical fiction  - what can I say, I love ticking off a list.
Being a children's book, I was somewhat surprised by some of the subject matters covered and yet they were covered in a sensitive way and with the perspective of a child, who is shocked to find out some home truths.What is so disturbing, to me at least, is how timeless Christina's struggle to live her own life and take control of her circumstances in her male dominated world rings true today. The book is set in 1908 and in many ways could be occurring today. When Christina is forced to cook and clean because there are no servants available it reminded me of my workplace's kitchen area- alas that is another pet peeve.

While the cover suggests this is some kind of Black Beauty style horsey novel, this is really a beautiful story about a strong female character that dances to the beat of her own drum, admittedly with the benefit of a big inheritance coming her way. There's tension, there's drama and for those disinclined there is also fox hunting ( although its gruesome reality is hinted at) and basically it makes for a great read, which was possibly the most surprising thing for me.

5 out of 5 - I now want to read the other titles in the series - drat!.

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