Saturday, 1 September 2007

Review: DIANA - Janet Must Ride

Thankfully this is the last of the complaints about the people who have installed the central heating. They came on Tuesday, and finished on Wednesday. Everything is now put away, except for the books. A lot of the walls they had touched had rather dirty and my nice wall where the bookshelves were, was instead of being a nice "country cream", was a rather dirty colour. So consequently that wall had to be repainted, along with a few odd patches in other rooms. I am just waiting for the second coat to dry before I put the books back. Although for some reasons, they did steal a lightbulb from the hall (why I ask? A lightbulb isnt expensive. I mean, you can buy a couple from the poundshop and that particular one wasnt an expensive energy efficient one - though I do have those in my flat - it cost me 98p for a pack of two from Tescos). So once again, a random choosing.

Janet Must Ride is one of Diana's earliest ones, published in 1953. The blurb reads (taken from the picture with the photographic cover):-

A girl groom has a wonderful job.........

But Janet sometimes wondered whether she would be anything more than a dreary, horsy person, remaining a groom all her life, and never achieving her ambition to become a champion rider.

Then the accident happens, just before the Big Event. Miriam is injured - and Corrymeela riderless. The cry goes up "Janet must ride!"

"For a moment I sat quite still picturing myself in the dressage arena. Would I ride well enough to satisfy Major Fuller? Worst of all, would I let down the family, or their beautiful mare, Corrymeela...?"

Ironically, Corrymeela (albeit with a slight difference in the number of r's used) is a reused name, the same name is used in her collaboration with her sisters, in her first book, It Began with Picotee. I wonder if the sisters chose a name each, or left the name picking to Diana?

The photographic edition is not illustrated, however the first edition (the one with an illustrated cover) is illustrated by Mary Gernat. 

But putting that aside, again, I feel that this is an ok effort. I have no particular dislike or like for the book, it is a tale of Janet doing hard work. I feel that Janet is being unrealistic, very few grooms these days actually dream of becoming riders in their own right, but many do want to work for the top class of their field, whether it be the showjumping, eventing, dressage, or showing sphere of the equestrienne field. Even if grooms do dream, there is certainly the wrong way to do it. But this book could be a product of it's time, maybe things were different then? I dont know. I'll leave that up to the reader.

But this tale makes an interesting read, and apart from a few odd details, it is still got the same charm as it did when it was first published. It's fairly easy to get into, unlike some of Diana's other pony books (particularly the early years). The plot is good, and the blurb gives it away what happens, but it leaves a surprising twist at the end. An interesting and good read all the same, particularly if you like the kind of books that involve people that work for a living with horses, instead of it being handed to them on a silver platter.


haffyfan said...

I love this one, maybe it's just for sentimental reasons as it was the first pony book I read (grown up one anyhow). The story is nice and easy going and i agree much easier to get into than some of her books, with better developed human and equine characters than some of her other books offer.

Kat said...

I remembered really enjoying this as a kid but blimey, it doesn't stand up next to some of the other ones I've bought out of the cupboard recently! The characters are terribly flat and there's an awful lot of "And then they went home to tea" sentences. A prime example of a stereotypical pony book (ie, crops thumping against boots) rather than a well-written one. This is going sneakily back onto eBay...