After reading How I live now with book club about eighteen months ago, I started following Meg Rosoff’s blog. About a week or so ago she posted about her highlights of last year, one of which was meeting the author K M Peyton.
Not many people seem to have heard of K M Peyton, but she has written the most wonderful books, and when I was a teenager I couldn’t get enough of them.
My mum had a small collection of teen fiction she’d had to buy and read when she was doing her teacher training on a shelf in amongst all my dad’s Isaac Asimov paperbacks. Thinking about it now, they were all good books, so they obviously knew what they were talking about in the Seventies.
My mum owned Flambards and The Edge of the Cloud, the first two in a quartet of books by K M Peyton, and I completely devoured them. Then I pestered the librarian at Fleetwood library to track down a copy of the next book for me. I read it so quickly on holiday, that I cried unconsolably about the fact that I’d finished it, much to my parents’ consternation.
That was the beginning – I came back from holiday and had the librarian comb the county and order in as many of her books as he could find. After all the Flambards books, I read her Ruth Hollis stories, then her Pennington stories. Pennington was a dissolute teenager who was a gifted pianist, a story that inspired me to keep up my own piano practice. Then I read the Jonathan Meredith stories, and an uncountable number of horse-y novels, which I loved even though I can’t ride.
I used to think it was hard to name the books that were my favourites, but when I think about some of the books I read when I was a teenager, all of a sudden it becomes a lot easier to list them. The books that felt exhilarating to read, the books that made you sad when they were over. I read too many books these days that don’t make me feel that way, that don’t catapult me along through the story. But hers always did.
I might start a little bloglist of those books… and in that spirit here’s number one:
The Edge of the Cloud, K.M. Peyton, for the exhilaration of flying and its sweeping World War One romance.