Friday, February 20, 2015
Libby and Fran and Tamsin and Rissa
But then I managed to find a second hand copy of the only book in a series I hadn't got. It's called Dolphin Summer and is part of the Romney Marsh series by Monica Edwards, one of the all time favourites from my childhood which I still read. I have even written pieces for the Monica Edwards Fan Club magazine, acknowledging her influence on me as both a writer and a reader.
So, Duncan Stockwell, this is about influences on my writing. I picked up The Summer of The Great Secret, the second in the series, in the tiny book department of a shop near my home in London. I was one of those mad keen pony types, and due to there being several commons locally: Tooting Bec, Clapham, Wandsworth and Mitchum, I was able to ride regularly. And when a friend of my father's took over the riding school I used, I was in seventh heaven. I went in the mornings before school, after school, weekends, holidays - and I even began to lead rides. Wouldn't be allowed now, of course. Patricia and Jennifer took over the stables when I was twelve, and I was leading rides by the age of thirteen. So finding this book, with a picture of a beautiful white (grey!) pony on the cover was a joy. And I was hooked.
Scroll forward a few dozen years, and a review of one my books on Amazon said it was like Enid Blyton with gin instead of ginger beer. The review was meant to be derisory, but it remains one of my favourites. And I realised. No, not Enid Blyton, but Monica Edwards, and let's have whisky and red wine instead of gin. Libby doesn't like gin. Nor do I.
So now, this week, reading Dolphin Summer for the first time in umpty-tum years I realised that Libby and Fran are really the grown-up versions of Tamsin and Rissa, although Fran is a much calmer person than Rissa ever was. My writing style is remarkably similar to Edwards', I have the same proscribed area in which the stories are set, the same sort of cast of characters.
In my opinion, Monica Edwards was a far better writer than Enid Blyton, and her books haven't dated as much, either. I don't know if a new reader would find them as enjoyable, but, if you don't know the books already, it might be worth giving them a try. The first in the series is Wish For A Pony. Enjoy!