Pride and Prejudice and horses
How to set a book in the horse world
Wow! Don’t we horse folk inhabit an exciting world. There is so much going on – so many different social worlds, careers and personalities all blended together. Money mixing with the poorest of the poor, success, failure, heartbreak and mischief all thrown together by our love of horses. What a wonderful, wonderful world in which to set a book – there is so much going on there to offer inspiration. There are so many different people involved with horses and ponies, the whole social sphere right across the board from single mum’s struggling to keep one shaggy pony to billionaires with strings of racehorses or polo ponies. Equally there is a huge variety of sports within the equestrian field from small county gymkhanas to huge race meetings and everything in between. So there’s huge scope for what to write about. How about a crime novel set in the polo world? Or a tender romance involving a billionaire racehorse owner and his groom?
I don’t know about you, but if we are not on or around our horses then the next best thing is reading about them. That is exactly why we founded Lavender and White Equestrian Publishing – so that we could find the sort of books we want to read – and to share them with others.
Any story can be set in the horse world. One of the best things about being a writer is that you pull all of the strings, which means that you get to choose where to set your novel and what to write about. Here we’ve given Jennifer Austen’s incredible Pride and Prejudice an equestrian makeover:-
The news that a handsome young gentleman named Charlie Bingley has just bought the livery yard, Furtherfield Park causes a great stir in the equestrian community of Longbridge, especially in the Burnett household. Charlotte Burnett has five horse-mad daughters. Jenny, Eloise, Martha, Kate, and Lisa. Mrs Burnett is desperate to see them all married. The Burnetts attend a ball at which Freddie. Bingley is present. He is taken with Jennifer and spends much of the evening dancing with her. His close friend, Freddie Dempsey, is very arrogant and refuses to dance with Eloise, which makes everyone view him as utterly obnoxious.
At equestrian functions over subsequent weeks, however, Freddie Dempsey finds himself increasingly attracted to Eloise’s charm and intelligence. Jennifer’s friendship with Charlie Bingley also continues. While riding at a hunter trails at Furtherfield Park she has a fall and has to stay at Charlie’s home. In order to look after Jennifer, Eloise rides through muddy fields and arrives with a spattered horse, much to the disdain of his snobbish sister Ruby. Ruby’s spite only increases when she notices that Dempsey, whom she fancies, pays quite a bit of attention to Eloise.
At the beginning of winter, the Charlie and Freddie leave Furtherfield and return to the city, much to Jennifer’s and Eloise’s dismay. As winter progresses, Jennifer visits the city to see friends (hoping also that she might see Charlie Bingley). But he is nowhere to be found.
That spring, Eloise visits Charlotte, a friend who lives near the home of Freddie. One day Eloise has gone for a dressage lesson at the yard of Catherine de Burgh, who is also Dempsey’s aunt. Dempsey is at the yard Catherine and gradually begins a tentative friendship with Eloise. One day, he makes a shocking proposal of marriage, which Eloise quickly refuses. She tells Dempsey that she considers him arrogant and unpleasant.
The following summer Eloise is at the races with her cousins – while she is staying with them they take her to some friends who live beside Freddie’s farm. While she is there her cousins suggest they go and look at Freddie’s stables which are incredible – having an Olympic sized dressage arena and fabulous facilities. She is shocked to find Freddie is there – he is similarly shocked to see her and falls off his horse over a cross country fence and ends up in the water at the far side of a jump.
This incident makes Freddie angry and drives the two of them apart further. A few days later Eloise gets a telephone call from her parents saying that Martha has been arrested for possession of drugs. Fearing that Freddie would be appalled Eloise heads home, not telling him why.
Eloise is distraught when she hears that Charlie Bingley has proposed to Jennifer, everyone seems to be happy except her. While the family celebrates, Eloise concentrates on her riding – getting ready for a big show. While having a lesson with her trainer Catherine de Burgh Catherine tells Eloise that she has heard that Dempsey, her nephew, is planning to marry her. Since she considers Eloise an unsuitable match for Freddie, Catherine demands that Eloise promise to refuse him. Eloise retorts that she is not engaged to Freddie, but is furious at Catherine for considering her not good enough for him.
Eloise wins her class at the show and Freddie comes to congratulate her. They begin to talk and he tells her that his feelings have not altered since the spring. Realising that her feelings for him are the same Eloise accepts his proposal.
It’s not just equestrian fiction that we are looking for at Lavender and White – we are always on the look-out for entertaining, well written memoires, lives spent involved with horses, a life time of hunting, training unruly horses, or a magical ride across foreign lands. Don’t forget though, no matter how interesting your story is, it still needs to be brought to life with the setting. You may be able to vividly recall what it was like riding your home bred youngster at the Horse of the Year show, but the reader wants to be transported there with the sounds, smells and sights.
At Lavender and White Equestrian Publishing we are looking for equestrian books of every genre, romance, crime, fantasy, historical – right across the whole spectrum of writing, just as long as the book is either set in the horse world, or about horses.