As a teenager a long time ago I fell in love with big scruffy handsome house Flambards, young Christina sent there to a household of men when her parents died, the two very different boy cousins, Will and Mark, and sweet Dick the stable boy back in the years before and including the First World War. Those of us who read, and still read, ‘Flambards’, ‘The Edge of the Cloud’, ‘Flambards in Summer’ and ‘Flambards Divided’ live Christina’s love of horses and riding, and her love in turn for those three young men. I was most in love with Dick who smelled of hay when he comforted Christina after her pony was sent away!
And now we are lucky enough to be offered more Flambards grit and romance to enjoy. Set in 2018, ‘The Key To Flambards’ is the story of Christina’s great great granddaughter Grace, visiting Flambards for a summer after her own life was changed by parental divorce and a devastating accident in which she lost a leg. Much happens in those summer weeks, so that Grace will look back and think, ‘.. the Me of Then was a person she no longer quite recognized. That Grace was a child, more than a year younger. She had never been To Flambards, never met Marcus or Jamie or Roger, Sally or Adrian or Skye; had never ridden a pony, watched otters or bats or listened to owls. She had never fallen in love with a place and its ghosts; had never seen a an drive himself to the brink of suicide, pulled back to live again. She felt quite dizzy with the swirl of experience.’
In this Flambards story Linda Newbery brilliantly follows in the writerly style established in the first books by Kathy Peyton. As you can see from the cover, this is a handsome book, and its printed on thick creamy paper. It gives a family tree at the start. And there is an Afterword by Kathy Peyton herself. The story in between the two covers lives effected by two world wars and war in Afghansitan, we experience love of different kinds, bravery and lives reinvented, all amongst a cast with some clear echoes of those earlier Flambards characters from whom many of them descend.
An absolute treat, especially for those familiar with those earlier books and who want more. Something to ask for for Christmas, perhaps?!
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