Another entertaining read by the undeniable 'queen' of the pony books. I cannot think too many authors have had more works published than CPT (especially of this genre)?
A camping holiday in the Highlands (presumably) on ponies turns quickly in a battle against adversity to save the lives of two Romanian asylum seekers fleeing the Russian fleet. A little far fetched maybe but nether the less entertaining. However I can't help thinking it just an adaptation of her first novel We Rode To Sea. It is a long time since I read it but it also concerns a holiday in the Highlands (widely thought to be set between Fort William and Inverness) although this time it's a family rather than a group of friends and rather than being persued they end up persuing some Germans, who have two of their ponies, quite literally to the sea.
I am still mulling over the setting for this one too. Immediately Fort Augustus (Fort Angus) sprung to mind but there was a mention of it being by the sea and a beach so that cannot be. Mallaig (Collig) was also a thought and then they could have rode to Ayisaig maybe but I don't think this would provide a large enough town so I am a little perplexed. I know the sisters held great affection for Scotland and were frequent visitors so can't help thinking the town and village mentioned are real and most likely in the Highlands.
The story begins when Sheila and Desmond, who are bored and seeking some excitement, first think of organising a mounted camping expedition. Never did they imagine what drama and excitement was to follow! First the trekkers get lost, then they lose a horse and end up saving the lives of two Romanian asylum seekers, amid a barrage of gun fire, who are fleeing Russian Fleets.
In true CPT style it is quite dark in tone and not without it's casualties. One of the Romanians is shot, the children generally suffer from hunger and fatige and poor Jennifer has a nasty fall and breaks her nose. Tom Thumb, Ian's borrowed potential dressage horse, is injured but it is poor 'rich girl' Leslie, (whom turned out not to be spoilt and stuck up, as they had imagined prior to leaving, in the least) who suffered the most. Ching Poo (what a brilliant name!), her Peke, falls to his death down a prepice while escaping the Russians while her pony Raspberry also ends up becoming lame too.
Although I have pictured the the first edition with the beautiful Sheila Rose cover, I read a Pb copy which I have owned, but never before read, from childhood. I have found that there are a number Of Christine's books , which I own that fall into this category whereas I have read (and more often than not devoured) both Diana's and Josephine's books as soon as I have got my hands on them, in fact the childhood ones that escaped my mums recycling sprees were/are now rather tired and dog eared! The reason was summed up perfectly however by Jane Badger, some time ago in this excellent post on her blog, where she described some of her works as being outside her comfort zone. I had not really given the reason why, despite commercially being the most successful of the sisters, I had never liked her books as much as her sisters that much thought prior to reading this post. On reading the post it fell into place, as it was also outside my comfort zone. I didn't like the doom and casualties a lot of her books carried but also the subjects were sometimes out of the comfort zone of a pony mad youngster, after all I wanted to gallop on beaches and win rosettes and not be worrying whether I would escape from Russian Fleets!