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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Willkommen in meinem Sprachblog!

Ich möchte meine deutschen Leser zu begrüßen. Willkommen in meinem Sprachbuch. Von Zeit zu Zeit hoffe ich etwas über mich und meiner Bücher, Die Antwort des Windes und Weil du mich liebst, sagen.

My novels in e-format

If you prefer electronic format to paper, you might be interested to know that all my novels are now available as Macmillan e-books. Just remember that they are not so useful in this format for using as table mats or laptop stands.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Pony books and female high fliers

I don't quite know why but I've started re-reading my old pony books. Perhaps because a family member now rides. Perhaps because the depressing and alarming news of the last few months makes me crave something safe and familiar.

I only have an edited selection of the scores of books I once owned. To my horror I discovered that I'd mislaid Jill's Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson: a seminal work.

Why did/do pony books appeal to a forty-something mother of two so much? Obviously there's the pony fascination that many girls of roughly seven to seventeen share. But there's something else. I think that reading about girls, often quite 'ordinary' girls, not rich, not glamorous, doing amazing things on fairly large animals was empowering. The golden age of the pony books seems to have run from about 1947 until the end of the sixties. This is just before women started to enter the workplace on (almost) equal terms with men. Was it the case that girls who read about other girls galloping ponies over scarily high fences and cheerfully competing with boys were somehow encouraged to think of themselves as at liberty to take chances with careers?

Jill of the gymkhana fame is a wonderful protagonist. She is plucky (buys a pony though she doesn't even know how to put his bridle on, draws off a fierce bull to protect a friend and jumps a huge gate to evade him). She's funny (not always intentionally), loyal and never for a single moment thinks of boys as anything other than comrades and equals. If they can ride better than she can she admires them. If they can't she quietly enjoys her superiority. But VERY quietly. One of her most endearing traits (and that of her friends) is modesty. No boasting. Do your best. Work hard. Look after your pony above all and be there for your friends.

It's an enormously attractive set of character traits. No wonder I'm re-reading them all again. And I've got a new edition of Jill's Gymkhana coming through the post, courtesy of Fidra. I still have a few of the Pullein-Thompson sisters' pony books hanging around too and am enjoying them immensely. It's interesting how often the mothers or fathers of the children in these books have parents who are authors. The Pullein-Thompsons themselves came from a literary family. I wonder if, subconsciously, I picked up the idea that writing for a living might be a good career. Perhaps I should also have noted that many of the writer parents in the books are unable to buy ponies, or more alarmingly, even clothes, food stuffs and household goods we'd regard as fairly everyday, on their earnings. Their daughters have to resort to all kinds of stratagems to buy and maintain their ponies. Not a bad lesson in life.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

World Book Night Giveaway

To celebrate the World Book Night giveaway I have a free copy of Jubilee to give out to the first person to email me on

I also have a free copy of Die Antwort des Windes (Jubilee in its German translation) that I'll send anywhere in Europe. Just email me