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Amanda Gavin is the pseudonym for Clodagh Gibson-Jarvie, under which latter name she wrote three thrillers. Gavin was born in London, and lived in Suffolk. During the war she worked as a civil servant and land girl, and later as a secretary and teacher. She was 'intensely interested in the attitudes of different children towards their fellows and their pets,' and described an incident when her son returned to school. 'During our guinea pig period,' she said, 'my son, then about nine, said, "Mummy, when we go to school we miss our pets far more than we miss our parents."' Well, quite. She added 'no parents can get right inside their child’s mind – all are individuals in their own right.'
Her To Find a Golden Pony is one of those pony books that is extremely difficult to find. Set in Suffolk, its heroine is Jo, who at the start of the book, is just about to move from Surrey, where she lives with her aunt and cousins. Her aunt has only allowed her very limited riding, despite the cousins having ponies. In what sounds like something taken directly from life, the aunt announces she’s not prepared to take the risk of riding lessons with someone else’s child.
Jo’s mother has died, but she is now going to re-join her farmer father in Suffolk. Jo is an extraordinarily self-possessed child. She is described as quiet, and she is: the sort of child who thinks at you. Her father struggles with the idea of Jo having a pony, as it brings back memories of his wife, but Jo sails forth and buys a pony on her own. Fortunately she is blessed with a very acute eye for a horse, and buys the grey Welsh Saxon, who turns out to be A Good Thing.
Finding the books
To Find a Golden Pony is very difficult to find indeed; The Luck at Lonely Hall isn’t quite such a struggle, but can still be expensive.
Dustjacket of The Luck at Lonely Hall