Everyone has that book, or series of books, that defines their childhood and influences their future lives in some way. This is mine. What’s yours, and why?
When I first discovered ‘Flambards’ by K.M Peyton, I devoured the whole series, and returned to them again and again. They had everything; a strong heroine who was so real to me she was like a best friend, a hero who had his weaknesses but it still gives me pangs when I think of his sad fate, and a First World War setting – not on the front line, but on the home front – which pits the rise of automobiles and airplanes against the decline of horses and cavalry, and delves into women’s rights and the crumbling of social divisions. Cleverly, the house – ‘Flambards’ – is a mirror that reflects this era of change in Britain. Its fate is directly affected by all that is going on around it, and yet it is also a symbol for everything the heroine is experiencing. She is tied to it. It becomes her heart.
Flambards taught me, like no other books I read in my childhood, that people and relationships are complicated things. It also instilled in me a great love of history, and a need to tell my own stories. Even now, writing this, I feel a burst of affection for the pile of bricks and mortar I only experienced through reading words on a page. Flambards feels like home.
Not many people seem to have heard of Flambards when I ‘go off on one’ about it, so I was surprised to find out that the series is also a favourite of YA/Children’s author, Meg Rosoff. Here’s what she said.
And here’s an article about K.M. Peyton herself, who is now 90 years old with 65 novels to her name. She reveals that the Flambards books were never meant to be for children after all, but I’m so grateful they ended up in my little hands when they did!
Featured Painting: ‘Harlequin’ by Henry Frederick Lucas