My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I finished this and I realised that I don’t ever remember reading a bad book from KM Peyton. I genuinely feel that she is one of the most undersung authors in the world of children’s literature.
Stylistically reminiscent of Antonia Forest (with the precision of language both authors use) and the Pullein-Thompson sisters (if they’d written about ponies and then about falling in mad passionate love with the stableboy), KM Peyton is constantly outstanding. And Dear Fred is no exception.
Based initially around Laura’s lust-filled obsession for champion jockey Fred Archer and set in late nineteenth century Newmarket, this novel features horses, love and a healthy dollop of magic.
Peyton writes emotion so well. The confusing, dominating, soul-consuming nature of a first crush and then the mad emotional maelstrom / utter banality of love. She pitches it so beautifully; understanding that sometimes this emotion is everything and then at other times, it’s nothing. She’s one of the few writers who can really handle love and present it ‘warts and all’ without wishing to romanticise the experience. Relationships like Laura and Tiger or Ruth and Pennington (Beethoven Medal) are real. Vivid. Horrible, Mad. Dull. Banal. Beautiful. Real.
What I also love about KM Peyton is her ability to give depth to the adults in her series. They’re not sidekicks. They’re also not automatically right because they’re adults. They mess up equally if not more than the apparantly juvenile protagonists.
KM Peyton makes you feel the world she creates. Reading her books is always a transformative experience. And I love them. I really really love them.