Book review

Blind Beauty by K M Peyton (1999)

A rattling good yarn. A story of obsessive love (for a horse) told with sensitivity and understanding.

Tessa is a wild one. She seems to have a heart of stone. She regularly rises to the challenge of getting herself thrown out of school and enjoys baiting her malicious step-father. The only kind of human interaction she can handle with confidence is confrontation. Then she meets Buffoon. Now, he is an aptly-named horse:

The horse was very tall, long-backed, gaunt and ribby with a dull hide the colour of faded conkers. It had an amiable face, an ugly white blaze, and long, wagging ears. Its pale-coloured mane and tail looked as if goats had been at them. It was as unlike the three other arrivals as a horse could possibly be.

An unlikely but intense, mutual bonding takes place between the two and out of the new trust, great things develop. Tessa finds a physical strength and willingness in her horse which delights his trainer:

‘Buffoon - go! Show them! Show them! I KNOW you can!’
She was batty, and knew it, feeling the adrenalin running, the rain in her face, the great warm smell of the horse in her nostrils, the sound of hooves on the downland turf. Mud splattered her. The jockeys in front were always clean, she remembered, clean and smiling ... I WANT TO BE IN FRONT ...
Slowly, slowly, the message communicated.
The hill steepened. Buffoon’s stride lengthened, the stride he didn’t know he’d got. Nobody had told him, before now, what he was for. All that good food and built-up muscle ... why? the idea of it trickled into him as he felt the mad little ant on his back communicating messages of glory.

And Tessa at last has something in her life to love. But it is a long road for her before she can achieve all her ambitions for Buffoon and learn how to love people with the same kind of commitment that she shows to the horse.

This is an intense and well-written story. Katharine Peyton has created in Tessa a child who is at once both wildly out of control of her own destiny and yet single-mindedly fixed on her own targets. And I love the way this writer handles her horses. Despite his eccentric appearance, she endows Buffoon with great dignity, and the whole book bursts with the excitement and urgency of the racecourse. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

What can I read next?

If you do get on well with Blind Beauty, you might like to try the Flambards series, also by K M Peyton. This features horses and hunting:

  • Flambards
  • The Edge of the Cloud
  • Flambards in Summer
  • Flambards Divided

And there is a superb horse trilogy to follow up with, by Mary O'Hara, set on a ranch in Wyoming:

  • My Friend Flicka
  • Thunderhead
  • Green Grass of Wyoming

Michael Morpurgo has written a 'Black Beauty' of the First World War which might interest you:

  • War Horse

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