Lauren Brooke is a prolific author of teenage girl pony fiction. Her Heartland series is extensive, and in A Summer To Remember, her heroine, Amy, flies to the Hamptons to help the wealthy Escobar family with their recalcitrant polo pony.
The packaging of the books, and particularly the synopses, rather give the impression that these books are more about teen romance, with a frisson of horse idolatry along the way.
We have the book in our primary school library, and I read it to make sure it was suitable for our pre teen readership, who might be drawn in by the equine content, but not so comfortable with the romance content.
I should not have worried. There is very little romance, and certainly nothing more than a chaste kiss and some wistful glances cast across crowded rooms here. It is all very sanitised.
The main thrust of the story is Amy and her magical relationship with horses, in this instance, the skittish polo pony, Impala.
Amy, it seems is a teenage horse whisperer who believes in homeopathy, flower remedies and the constant and steady application of lavender oil when it comes to healing a horse’s ills.
There are lots of descriptions of riding various horses in various ways and what one needs to do to train a good polo pony. All excellent advice for primary school readers living in the Midlands.
I poke fun, and I shouldn’t. I imagine that if a girl (and these are totally books for girls), is horse mad, and has gone through all the Christine Pullein Thompson and Sheltie books, she will need something a little more grown up to get her through her teenage years with enough of a horse fix, and these books obviously provide them in spades.
They are however, woefully written, massively simplistic and lacking in any kind of depth whatsoever. They are for throwaway enjoyment only, which is no bad thing.
I recommend the books to any horse mad girl of whatever age, as long as she is a competent reader. They are clearly pitched at 12 and up, but there is nothing offensive that means they can’t be read by much younger readers.
Never having been a horsey person I am baffled as to why these would have appeal, but I know a few children who would be delighted with them, and they certainly fill a clear niche in the market.