In the Guardian Unlimited yesterday, a piece about K.M. Peyton, whoseFlambards Trilogy I love.
I was introduced to the books through the telly series (when RTM used to screen British TV). I was very taken by the story of a young orphan girl who is sent to live with her uncle and two male cousins. I’m one of four sisters and attended a Convent school, and I had had crushes on various male cousins so I felt the thrill and recognised the potential of Christina’s situation.
Christina’s Uncle Russell was a drunk and horse-mad cripple. His eldest son, Mark, was handsome and arrogant, a dashing and daring rider who treated his horses (and his women) with scant respect.
His younger brother, Will, hates riding. On the day Christina arrives to stay with the Russells, Will is thrown from a horse and hurts his leg. He later sabotages his recovery so that he does not have to ride again. Will is interested in flying machines and defies his father’s wishes to fly experimental planes built by a close friend, Mr Dermott.
Christina is vaguely attracted to Mark, but falls in love with Will instead. There is also a quiet, gentle groom called Dick who teaches her to ride and whom she marries, in the third book.
Actually, Christina marries all three men, first Will, and then Dick, and finally, Mark. My ex-husband found this preposterous when he watched the telly series because he didn’t think much of the actor, Christina McKenna’s looks.
(I happen to think that it reflects the truth: When it’s slim-pickings, men aren’t terribly fussy so long as the woman’s able and willing. Better have someone who can cook and clean, and will sleep with you, never mind what she looks like.)
In any case, Christina isn’t a troll. And I thought the actor, McKenna, attractive enough. The male characters, apart from Mark, are not supposed to possess movie-star looks, and the actor who plays Mark ticks the arrogant box, but not the handsome one.
(I rather fancied Alan Parnaby who played Will, but I do favour consumptive appearances. )
I was very in love with Will and Christina’s romance, and the second book, The Edge of the Cloud, which is all about their courtship and eventual marriage, and won the Carnegie Medal in 1969, is my favourite of the series.
Peyton says that she did not write the books with children in mind, and I think that the series would definitely appeal more to adults. Teens who like historical fiction might also be interested.