FLAMBARDS by K. M. Peyton


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Take an orphan of twelve with no present but great future expectations; inject her into a distantly related, declining household (as an infusion of new funds?); offer her two antithetical cousins, brazen Mark and shrinking Will; overwhelm them all with crippled Uncle Russell and his passion for horses and hunting. What you have is an irresistible if hardly novel mise en scene; what follows is often surprising. Will has a passion of his own, for airplanes and flying (events span 1908-12), and his resolve matches his father's: to escape the hated (and feared) horseback riding, he prevents his injured leg from healing properly and gets to be left largely alone. Christina sympathizes, meanwhile discovers to her astonishment that she has the family predilection for riding; she also senses acutely the contrast between the quiet and order in the stables, the chaotic slovenliness in the house. Equally an attractant is groom Dick, whose tight lips only once reveal his affection. Whereas Mark goes from bad to worse, finally banishing Dick (and dooming his dependent family) for helping Christina save a favorite horse from being sold as dog food. Meanwhile Will has become a man in his own way, and a man of the future; in a very funny finale he pilots a recalcitrant plane into a steeplechase crowd, creating havoc and infuriating Mark and his father, then carries Christina off to London in a purring, powerful Rolls. It's easy to be patronizing about this, impossible to put it down -- as a girl-getter it has everything going for it.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1968
ISBN: 0753120100
Publisher: World