Saturday, 8 November 2008

Review: JOSEPHINE - Proud Riders

Proud Riders is this week's book. It was first published in 1973, and really is an anthology, the extracts are chosen by Josephine, rather than written by.

The blurb reads:-

A superb book for everyone interested in horses, a collection of stories and verses, fact and fiction, about horses and ponies and their riders at work; in the wild and at play, all over the world. Josephine Pullein-Thompson, famous for her own stories about horse, has brought together writing from all sorts of authors, who include Shakespeare and Tolstoy, Mark Twain and John Betjeman, Siegfried Sassoon and W H Hudson, Gordon Richards and Conan Doyle.

The book is illustrated by two sections of photographs which add another dimension to the whole theme of horses and their riders and their place in life.

The first extract is from More Ponies for Jean by Joanna Cannan, the second is from Roughing It by Mark Twain, the third is from Bengal Lancer by F. Yeats-Brown, the fourth is Memoirs of a fox-hunting man by Siegfried Sassoon, the fifth is a poem by John Betjeman, the sixth is from Sir Nigel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the seventh is from The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo, the eighth is from Animal Stories by Ruth Manning-Sanders, the ninth is from True Stories About Horses by Lilian Gask, the tenth is a poem called Equestrian Courtship by Thomas Hood, the eleventh is from A Galloway Childhood by Ian Niall, the twelfth is from The Horse by Seigfried Stander, the next one is a song called A Cowboy's Life by Anon., the fourteenth is from Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson, the fifteenth is a rather long poem from The Collected Verse of A.B.Paterson, the sixteenth is from Sporting Print by G. March-Phillips, the seventeenth is from My Story by Gordon Richards, the eighteenth is a rather long poem called The Worn-Out Pony by Anon., the nineteenth is from The Unvarnished West by J.M. Pollock, the twentieth is from Strider by Leo Tolstoy and the final bit is a poem from Venus and Adonis by Shakespeare.

It also begins with an introduction by Josephine Pullein-Thompson.

The quality varies. Some are quite enjoyable, others are not. I really enjoyed the extract from More Ponies For Jean by Joanna Cannan and also Memoirs of a fox-hunting man by Siegfried Sassoon. Some of the extracts include different styles of riding (such as Western) which some people. Also, An African Foal (from The Horse by Siegfried Stander) deals with another country (and continent) entirely, which again is not for everyone.

Of course this is all subjective, of course people will enjoy bits that others won't. But at least this (apart from the cover) does not date, the trouble is that with some anthologies (particularly by Christine) is that they include references to famous horse riders of the day, or horse care which is now out of date. But anthologies are a subject of love or hate themselves, some people hate them, some people love them. Personally I am in the hate category. But on the other hand, if you hate a book at least you are stuck with only one chapter rather than wasting a whole chapter.

Still, at least the quality of the extracts Josephine has chosen are of high quality and this is one of the better anthologies out there. Some anthologies do contain poor quality extracts, and this one does not. The best thing is if you find a cheap copy is to try it yourself.