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Saturday, 30 June 2018

Review: CHRISTINE - We Rode To The Sea

We Rode To The Sea is this week's book. It is Christine's first solo book, and was first published in 1948; two years after It Began With Picotee.

The red bound cover is rather a strange one, it is an Collins Crown Library edition. Nobody quite knows it's origin, but it is the only P-T book to have this treatment. Monica Edwards' books Wish For A Pony and The Summer of the Great Secret have these editions. However, this one is dated 1949, the same as the regular first edition. I thought it may be because it originally cost a crown, but my mother says that it would have been an extremely expensive book so that theory is out of the window. Especially considering that Britain had only just come out of the second world war only 3 years ago, and was still on rationing. One theory is that it was a cheap edition of the first edition. I cant tell you how much this originally cost, as mine has been price clipped.

Anyway, the blurb reads:-

The scatterbrained MacGregors set out with five horses and a dog for a riding tour in the Highlands. They lose maps, money and tempers and become involved in a chase after two prisoners. They camp in the glens, eat oatcakes in crofters' kitchens, and at last, coming down the trees, they see the open sea.

If you had not guessed, this book is set primarily in Scotland, a theme similarly replicated in her mother's book We Met Our Cousins (first published in 1937). Interestingly, all editions bar this one and the more commonly seen first edition, have an rather interesting introduction, which reads:-

"Come on," I cried with mad impatience. "What did you see?"
"I saw," said Duncan slowly, "two Germans riding two horses - our horses - Harvester and Landslide. Now can you understand my rage?"

The Macgregors were on a riding tour in the highlands. The war was just over; but food was rationed and escaped German prisoners lurked in the hills. Seven pounds was enough for a holiday for four people, a dog and five horses in those far off years when a loaf of bread could be bought for twopence three farthings. But Alister's wallet vanished and the map was lost and all their watches shopped, while the Macgregors pursued the Germans from glen to glen until they met at last, face to fact on the cliffs above the sea.

This was my first book. Life was different when I wrote it. Horses still travelled on trains in special trucks, and the carriages were full of soldiers and sailors and nearly everything was rationed. It is the book which made my name. I hope you enjoy it.

Christine Pullein-Thompson

It is the only P-T book (and certainly the only Christine one) that features an introduction. Even the Collins Pony Library edition (second picture) features that.

This is a general adventure rather like the later Ride By Night. It's told from the prospective of Hughneena Macgregor. They certainly seem patriotic with references to Scotland a lot throughout the book, with the term "By the blighted hopes of Scotland" used a lot.  It's perhaps the least horsey of CPT's books save her non horsey ones.

Despite this I enjoyed it. The Macgregors have a lot of misfortune including as the blurb suggested losing maps. It's an enjoyable read despite the lack of horsey action. What got me is the wonderful description of the Highlands despite never visited I felt as though I was there. This is due to the PTs excellent writing. Despite everything going wrong I never felt frustrated. This is a excellent read which I never found boring and would recommend to a modern reader. The only thing that dates it is the fact that horses travel by train in the beginning of the book. This is never done these days and thanks to Doctor Beeching there are fewer railway stations than the time that CPT was writing. If you don't like general horsey adventures and generally avoid this I urge you to read this: you may be pleasantly surprised.

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