Tuesday, August 25, 2015

RIP Patricia Leitch

Having wandered over to the Books, Mud and Compost blog, I discovered the prolific pony book author Patricia Leitch died on July 28. 

I read For Love of a Horse for the first time while hiding behind an armchair during a violent thunderstorm with my Beardie wrapped around my legs. It is one of those vivid, perfect memories from childhood that feels as if I could wake up there again, if I tried hard enough. The storm-charged air, the cave-like security behind the chair, the shaggy dog's comforting weight, and the transporting book.  I still have that book.

I've read only a few of Leitch's many books, but they made a deep impression.  Her characters, human and equine, were outstanding.  Jinny - humorless, driven, passionate Jinny, tearing her heart out over the abused mare she names Shantih at the grim suggestion of her beloved, slightly frightening Ken. The placidly stubborn Highlands. The wild mare. The storm-ravaged pottery, the haunting wall mural, the dream-like state in which she paints that contest entry and then wanders downstairs for a bit of a snack.  The dog Kelly. The wet ride across confusing moors to track down the library van.

Leitch had her flaws - if she didn't particularly appreciate a personality, she didn't much bother with the character.  Jinny's sister and mother were virtually flat - but her writing had great scope and style.  It's rare enough to get that sort of enormous energy poured into a child's book, let alone a child's book centered on horses.  Leitch was a classic.

NZ Ponywriter
Daily Record

Jane Badger Books
Jinny at Finmory Facebook
Catnip Books