Flambards is the book people (=the obsessive fans of K M Peyton) most go on about when talking about their beloved author’s best books. The one every single one of them has told me I must read. The only reason I delayed was to save this special something for the right occasion.
I have to admit it wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. I really liked it, but found myself in disagreement with the heroine Christina on more than one occasion. The book is nearly fifty years old, and if you take away the horses you would have the traditional ‘governess/young girl in a grand mansion’ story, except not very much of it, as the horses fill most of the book.
The romance is there, but not in a straightforward way at all. I went through all three possible young men, and left feeling none the wiser at the end. I know. There are more books for me to read. I’ll find out. Or I could Wikipedia the whole thing. WWI is on the horizon, and will no doubt deal with the male characters.
At first I cheered the 12-year-old Christina as she arrived at Flambards, feeling confused and hurt by her uncle’s behaviour, and scared of her cousin Mark and his riding madness. But her cousin Will plays too small a part (to fit with the blurb on the back of the book) and stable boy Dick has the problem of being the hired help.
As Will and Dick both find, Christina soon becomes more like Mark and uncle Russell than you would expect. This is confusing, and not at all helpful, but quite realistic. We are all mixed-up, and Christina has the right to be too.
Not being the slightest bit horsey, I found it hard to understand. But fascinating. The Russells might be poor, but that’s nothing compared to how poor the poor are. Or powerless. Very interesting portrait of the countryside in pre-war England.
Now all that remains is for the rest of you not to blabber before I’ve found out for myself what happens to Christina and her three men. (I reckon one has to die. One injured in the war? And horses are on the way out. Cars and planes are the new horses. Christina will see sense, and possibly learn the facts of life.)