Sunday, 9 September 2007

Review: DIANA - I Wanted A Pony

I Wanted a Pony is the book I have chosen for this week.

It has a special place in my heart. Not only because this is Diana's first ever book on her own (it was published in 1946 - the same year as her joint work It Began with Picotee), but it was also my first Diana book. This edition dates from the 1970s, but it was bought second hand in the early-mid 1990s ( where I bought it from closed down in 1997). The original price is 20p, but I paid 40p (the price tag is still written inside). Also, this is the first book she wrote which is part of a series (the others being Three Ponies and Shannan, A Pony To School and Only A Pony). I will cover the rest of the series over the next few weeks.

Besides, at one point, we all can relate to the title, I am sure that 99% (if not all) of my readers are pony mad (is it possible to love pony books and not like ponies?) and of course, we wanted a pony at one point. Some of us are still waiting, whereas for some of it did come true.

This edition is illustrated, but the illustrator is not credited. However they do look like they are the same illustrations as in the first edition, which are by Anne Bullen.

The blurb on the back reads:-

"Dear Augusta - I shall be very greatful if you will accept this small present in return for so gallantly saving my farm from being destroyed....."

Fifteen pounds all for herself. Augusta cant believe her luck. Now she would be able to have her dearest wish - a pony of her own. Her three cousins, who think they are such marvellous riders, laugh at Augusta and her little grey pony. But she works hard at schooling him in preparation for the Stokely Show; and even though her cousins are very discouraging she has a surprise in store for them, for Augusta and Daybreak start winning prizes of their own.

If you can get past the fact that you can no longer buy a pony for £15, then this makes an interesting book and one I enjoy. I like the fact that it is told from Augusta's point of view, and the sheer bad manners (I get the feeling they never wanted her to live at their house) that her cousins show makes a good background for the story. They live in a place called Fledgewood, which is in Flintshire, which bears a bit of truth. As all of the PT's books are based in the UK (most of them England, though there are a couple of them in Scotland), there is a case of there being a real life Flintshire, whereas all the places they mention are completely fictional. I wonder if Diana knew that (and Christine, as one of her books also mentions a Flintshire too)? (I live in the county bordering the real life Flintshire by the way, and used to live 2 miles from the border.) Only in the real life Flintshire, there certainly isnt a Fledgewood (as mentioned in my first post, I am in North East Wales, and 99% of the places have Welsh names). Anyway, her cousins life revolves around shows, and one of them, Jill, even gets a showjumper in the book. The consequences of what happens when Jill tries out a potential purchase, Topper is a great addition to the book.

Anyway, her cousin, though not nasty, leave Augusta on her own, as there is no suitable pony for her (the last time they saw her riding was not successful, so they do not trust her with any of their ponies. However, as Augusta admits, she did improve after that, so she would have probably ok on their ponies), so at one point, she does a walk after her own, and this in turn, causes her to discover the fire, which leads to the fifteen pounds. As obviously the fifteen pounds let her buy the pony (though she did have to make a few personal sacrifices herself) that is how she got Daybreak (without her aunt's or cousin's knowledge). Although Augusta does have a few problems with Daybreak, these are soon sorted out, and you can tell she had fun.

It is good that she could prove to her cousins that she can ride and win rosettes, though how she got one of them would probably be banned today, in this modern health and safety mad world. Her cousins attitudes changes too at the end, though we will never know how much, as unfortunately her cousins do not feature in subsequent books in this series. All in all, a good book.


Bex said...

I remember this book from my childhood. I’m now almost 54 and the pony’s name Daybreak has forever stuck in my memory. I loved that book over and above all the pony books I ever read (and trust me I read hundreds of not a thousand!) wish I still had a copy but after a divorce I lost track of my copy which daft though it is broke my heart! One day I will find it in a charity shop. A fabulous book that’s helped mould my childhood.