Flambards Divided by K.M.Peyton

Flambards Divided cover

Flambards Divided by K.M. Peyton is the last book in the Flambards series, published in 1981 and aimed at older children, teen readers I suppose they would be described as nowadays.

It seemed apt to be reading it while I was in Belgium looking at World War 1 cemeteries and such, because the setting is towards the end of the war. Christine is of course a young widow with a small daughter and after spending lots of her inherited money on improving Flambards as a farm and trying to make it pay her cousin Mark has come back home from the war where he was very badly wounded.

Christine has married Dick who was a servant at Flambards before the war. Their marriage isn’t popular because everybody disapproves of her marrying so far below her station and Dick is too stubborn to want to get on with the neighbouring landowners. Christine isn’t happy that Dick has taken over the running of the farm and wants no input from her at all.

When Mark arrives back at Flambards the atmosphere is poisonous as Mark and Dick have a lot of animosity, with good reason. Christine finds herself in the middle of two warring men and everything begins to fall apart for all concerned.

This book shows how World War 1 changed everything in social terms and also how the death of so many young men made it necessary to change laws to take account of the imbalance of the sexes.

This is an enjoyable series which of course was made into a TV serial but I’m sure that the TV series only dealt with the first two books. It’s a shame that nobody thought to make a new series of the whole set as it would have been ideal viewing during these centennial years.

As it happens Jack has just done a blogpost about the Menin Gate in Ypres and if you’re interested you can see it here.

Flambards in Summer by K.M. Peyton

Flambards in Summer cover

Flambards in Summer by K.M.Peyton was first published in 1969 and it’s the third book in the Flambards series. You really have to read these books in order.

The second book ended in sadness. Now Christina is on her own with the death of her pilot husband Will who had joined the Royal Flying Corps to do his bit during World War 1. His elder brother who was in the army is missing presumed dead. Uncle Matthew is also dead and Flambards has been left to go to wrack and ruin. Christina is shocked by the state of the house and land, but with most of the local men away at war it’s a hard task to make improvements.

The horses have all been taken for war service and the empty stables are unbearably sad for Christina who has always lived for horses in much the same way as Will lived for flying. She sets about buying some more horses for farm work and for riding, then attempts to track down some of the people who had lived at Flambards years before to bring the place back to life and help with farming it again.

The Flambards books are aimed at children around twelve years old I suppose and they do give a good idea of how life was for those caught up in the war, whether so called peasants or gentry. This is an entertaining and informative read and as it is from my own book piles it counts towards the Reading My Own Damn Books challenge. This is the fourth book of my own that I’ve read this month but as I have bought seven books over the last three days … my book piles continue to expand. But what can I do about it? I tend to buy more unusual books rather than modern fiction, so when I see them I just have to pounce!

The 1979 TV adaptation of Flambards DVD is available. For some reason it seems never to have been on TV since then, I enjoyed watching it at the time but it might seem very old fashioned now. It’s amazing how acting styles change over the years, The Pallisers was on TV recently and I gave up on it as it seemed so stilted and stiff, but I didn’t see it when it was on originally so way back then I might have thought it was wonderful.

Reading My Own Damn Books – in March

I decided to join in the Reading My Own Books Challenge at Estella’s Revenge in the hope that it would make me concentrate on my books rather than books from the library. It sort of worked, although I did request some books from the library because other bloggers had loved them. Anyway, in March I read eleven books and of those eight were my own. They were:

1. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
2. Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne
3. The Edge of the Cloud by K.M.Peyton
4. Crossriggs by Jane and Mary Findlater
5. Introduction to Sally by Elizabeth von Arnim
6. Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
7. Cork on the Water by McDonald Hastings
8. The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens

I had been aiming to read at least six of my own books so I’m very happy with eight although I didn’t manage to read Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston as I had planned, that one will be carried forward to be read in April. I’m hoping to read at least six of my own books in April, I’ll definitely be reading Oblamov by Goncharov because I got that one in the Classics Club Spin.

I have a horrible feeling that I actually bought more than eight books in March though, so the TBR pile is still increasing!

The Edge of the Cloud by K.M. Peyton

The Edge of the Cloud cover

The Edge of the Cloud by K.M. Peyton is the second book in the Flambards series and was first published in 1969.

Christina is now eighteen and she has been living with her uncle and her two male cousins who are a bit older than her. Her uncle is determined to marry Christina off to her eldest cousin Mark and so keep Christina’s money in the family. Her uncle and cousins are cash poor but do have a large house and estate where horses and hunting are the only things of importance. Christina is in love with the younger cousin Will, and unlike the rest of the family he is terrified of horses and riding, flying aeroplanes is his obsession.

Christina can’t get her hands on her money until she is twenty-one and she and Will can’t get married until then either, as Uncle Russell will never consent to their marriage, so they run off to stay with Aunt Grace where Christina has to help her with the sewing by which she earns her living. Meanwhile Will has managed to get a job as a mechanic at an airfield and is living in a shed, it’s not what he wants, he dreams of becoming an aeroplane designer and flying them. Eventually he does begin to teach other people to fly and earns much needed money by taking part in air displays, looping the loop and such like.

Christina is terrified of flying and of course lives in fear of Will being involved in an accident, neither of them can understand the other’s fear of riding/flying. Inevitably accidents occur.

This book is set in 1913 when flying was all new and wildly exciting. A note at the beginning of the book states that the first loop the loop was demonstrated in England by Pegoud in September 1913. The first British pilots to loop were B.C. Hucks and G. Hamel later in the year. Forty-eight British pilots were killed in various accidents from the beginning of flying in 1910 up to the outbreak of war in 1914.

The Edge of the Cloud won the Carnegie Medal in 1969 and the trilogy won the Guardian award in 1970. It was published by Penguin as a Puffin Book so was meant to be read by older children, but it’s a good read for children of all ages.

I loved the Flambards series when it was shown on TV years ago, that was aimed at adults. There isn’t much in the way of horse riding in this book but if you’re keen on early aviation you might find this one interesting.

Pitlochry Bookshop

We had a close look at the weather forecast this morning and decided it was good enough to sashay up to the wee Highland town of Aberfeldy to go for a good walk up the Birks of Aberfeldy, more about that at a later date, but you can see images of it here.

It ended up being a gorgeous day up there and on the way back we decided to veer off to Pitlochry, mainly because I had heard that there was a bookshop in one of the railway station buildings. In fact we discovered that you have to go on to the station platform to get into the shop which presumably used to be offices or a waiting room or some such thing. You really have to know that it’s there as you will never stumble across it, unless you’re getting off a train.

There was a display of hardback books from the Reprint Society right at the door so I wasn’t even in there two seconds before I had a couple of books in my hands and in the end I took books to the counter to pay for them. The sales assistant called me ‘madam’ – I’m never sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, it makes me feel old anyway.

However, he was very impressed with my haul of books and he gave me a discount despite them already being ridiculously cheap compared with other secondhand bookshops. I felt quite bad about that as I think the proceeds go to a local charity.

So what did I buy this time?

1. The Edge of the Cloud by K.M Peyton
2. Flambards in Summer by K.M.Peyton
3. Flambards Divided by K.M. Peyton
I loved the first Flambards book, they were published by Puffin aimed at older children I suppose but I only got to know about the books after watching Flambards on TV in 1979 and that was not a children’s programme. I’ve already read the first book in the series.

4. The Rider of the White Horse by Rosemary Sutcliff
5. The Willow Cabin by Pamela Frankau
6. The Battle of the Villa Fiorita by Rumer Godden
7. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
8. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
9. Peak Country by Joseph E. Morris which is an A&C Black book from their Beautiful Britain series. 1914.

Not a bad haul I think you’ll agree. I really do have to concentrate on my own books now!

books

Flambards

Flambards cover

I loved the TV adaptation of K.M.Peyton‘s Flambards which I watched way back in 1979. It doesn’t seem to have been repeated since then. Anyway for some reason Flambards popped into my head just before I went to a local library book sale earlier in the year and I was quite amazed to see a copy of the first book in the series sitting unloved and unwanted in the children’s section. It was still there at the end so I decided that it must have been meant for me and I bought it. It was first published in 1967 and the Flambards quartet was the runner-up for the Carnegie Medal.

The story begins in 1908 and Christina who is an orphan has been sent to live at Flambards, the home of her widowed uncle. He has two sons the eldest being Mark who is arrogant and selfish like his father and they are both obsessed with horses and fox-hunting. I know, the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable. Christina’s uncle is an invalid and unable to walk and ride due to a riding accident and they are obviously a lot poorer than they used to be. It’s supposed that he plans to get Christina to marry his son and heir Mark so that they can get their hands on Christina’s money when she comes of age. The younger son Will is completely different from his brother, he has no interest in horses. Machinery is his obsession and in particular, flying machines!

Will is bullied and beaten by his father because he isn’t the sort of son that he wants and a close friendship grows between Christina and her cousin Will, despite the fact that Christina has caught the horse obsession.

There’s a lot of horsey stuff in the shape of hunting and point-to-points so this series is bound to be of interest to the many girls around who are into horse riding. I never was but my schoolfriends Vivian and Lorna just lived for horses.

This book takes us up to 1912 so there isn’t much about flying in it but I’m going to be seeking out the other three books in this series which, if they’re anything like the TV series will feature the estate of Flambards as a First World War flying base.

Library book sale

You know what it’s like when you look forward to something for ages, you can almost guarantee that you’re going to be disappointed. Well that’s how I felt when I got to the library sale at the Adam Smith Theatre last Saturday.

Mind you after having perused my haul again – I’ve got a bit of a cheek not being happy with it, it’s just that I didn’t get anything which I had really been looking for.

So this is my haul:

The Borley Rectory Incident by Terrance Dicks
Morning Tide by Neil M Gunn
Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer
The Foundling by Georgette Heyer
The Nonsuch by Georgette Heyer
Arabella by Georgette Heyer
Middlemere by Judith Lennox
Flambards by K M Peyton
Right Royal Friend by Nigel Tranter
Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

I must admit that I prefer Heyer’s detective stories to her romances but I’ll get around to these ones sometime.

Nigel Tranter is a Scottish writer who writes good historical fiction.

I can hardly believe that I’ve not read To the Lighthouse yet.

I enjoyed Updike’s Rabbit series so I thought I’d give this one a go although it seems to be very different being about the king and queen of Denmark before the action of Shakespeare’s Hamlet begins.

Neil Gunn is another Scottish author of the 1930s.

I had meant to borrow something by Judith Lennox for a while now but hadn’t got around to it.

Flambards was a bit of pure serendipity because I had seen the book somewhere on the internet just a few days before and I hadn’t even realised till then that it was a book. I really enjoyed the series of that name when it was on the TV years ago. This was in the childrens section and I left it until late on before picking it up in case a kiddywink should want it – but it was left there looking forlorn so I didn’t feel that I was depriving anyone of it.

The Borley Rectory Incident is another junior library book and it’s written by the chap who wrote a lot of the Doctor Who books. Gordon went through a phase of wanting those books as bedtime stories and I just want to know what this one is like compared with them.

Now that I look at them all carefully I don’t know what I was moaning about at the beginning of this post, I’m quite pleased with my haul. Now I just need the time to read them all.