It’s like being young again. Despite me never having been a real horsey girl (only dreaming quietly), K M Peyton’s horse books are just the thing. I have no idea what half the stuff she writes about means, but that doesn’t matter. For a little while I’m out there riding and having a good time.
Now her Swallow tales have been reissued – possibly due to the influence of fan number one, Meg Rosoff – and I have been gorging myself on all three Swallow stories, published in one volume.
What’s so nice, apart from the books being just the way you want children’s books to be like, is that Kathleen doesn’t waste her, or my, time on what doesn’t belong. Plenty of horsey detail, but none of this boring going to school stuff or doing homework or anything else. If the next important development in the book is what happens on Saturday, then we don’t have to suffer through the mid-week happenings, but can go straight to the Saturday business.
Originally published in the mid 1990s, to my mind the books feel as though they were written longer ago, during the avocado bathroom suite era. Even 15 years ago I doubt children would have had as much freedom as these ones do, at such an early age.
The books are about 11-year-old Rowan, who has moved to the countryside and who falls in love with a wild pony that she names Swallow, and also a little in love with older teenager Charlie, who is a wizard with horses.
But wild ponies are no use when you can’t even ride, so Rowan gets to know a number of other, calmer horses, that help her to learn. It’s the stuff dreams are made of!
Rowan makes friends of the best sort, she rides, and she has just the kind of life so many of us once imagined we might have. Along the way, Rowan learns you can love many different horses, and no love affair is totally straightforward. If something seems difficult, or impossible, you have to think and work hard to change fate.