Book name: Riding with the Lyntons
Author: Diana Pullein-Thompson
Publisher: William Collins
Format: ebook, print
Genre: Pony books, vintage children’s fiction
Publication Date: 1956
Star Rating: 5/5
All three Pullein-Thompson sisters were a central part of postwar pony stories. Riding With the Lyntons was published during that period, in 1956, as Britain came through austerity and life felt like it had returned to normal at last.
Lesley is delighted when her father’s success as an author means that her family can leave London and go to live in the country.
The cottage they move to is everything that Lesley could wish for. She longs for a pony and it has a paddock and a stable.
Having a pony of her own must wait until her father’s next royalty payment. However, just along the road are the Lyntons, who have more than enough ponies to go round.
Lesley is an only child and very shy, so it takes her ages to pluck up the courage to introduce herself to the Lyntons. She can ride fairly well and is soon taken under their wing.
Not making too much of a fuss when one of the family dogs bites her is apparently Lesley’s main test of fitting in.
One night, after Jon has taken a tumble out riding and broken his arm, Lesley is asked to feed the two smallest ponies on her way home. She’s sure she shut the gate behind her.
The ponies escape onto the road and, awfully, one of them is killed by a car.
The Lyntons blame Lesley, who then becomes estranged from them. Too shy to speak up and defend herself, there is no one to stand up for her.
Afterwards, Lesley and then her parents are bedridden with flu and then snowed in for weeks.
During this period, the estrangement with the Lyntons becomes entrenched. Lesley longs to clear her name, but after her illness she’s not even sure that she did close the gate.
Riding With the Lyntons is unusual among pony books. Many injuries to riders occur in other pony books, and of course we always care most to know that the pony is okay.
In Riding With the Lyntons, a pony is killed out on the road. This is very unusual among pony stories, where the outcome is almost always more positive whenever an animal is injured.
Lesley’s shyness is not unusual among the heroines of pony books. It is quite common for the central character to be an only child. However, her estrangement from other children is far from typical of our genre.
Young people have a strong sense of justice and fair play, and when I read Riding With the Lyntons over and over as a child I was always struck by the sadness of the story and the unfairness of it.
Lesley is finally able to clear her name and all is well. However, she has many trials before that point is reached. For her fallibility she is one of my favourite heroines of pony books from my childhood.
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