Bryant, Bonnie

You’re pretty unlikely to have grown up as a horsey child in the 1990s, or indeed this century, and not know about the American Saddle Club series, set in Virginia. They make the longest British series, the Jackie books, with 16 titles, look like a mere beginner. The Saddle Club is epic: there are over 100 titles. Like Jackie, the Saddle Club heroines (Stevie, Carole and Lisa) manage not to age, which, over 100 books, is even more of an achievement. It does not seem to have affected their popularity one wit, however, their many readers taking this juggling with time in their stride. The books are still available today, and a television series was made.

The books started after an editor at Bantam Books spotted a gap in the market and commissioned Bonnie Bryant to write a horse-orientated series. Bryant based all three characters on herself: 'I can be as disorganised as Carol, I can be as logical as Lisa and I can get into as much trouble as Stevie, although I don't talk about that very much!'

Bryant did not write all the books, stopping after contributing over 30 titles. The baton was taken up by a battalion of ghost writers. There were spin off series too: Pony Tails, aimed at younger readers than the Saddle Club, and Pine Hollow, aimed at older readers, with the same Saddle Club heroines. Neither series, presumably, were as successful, only reaching 16 titles each.

The vast majority of the titles are easy and cheap to find. Some of the later Saddle Club titles can be difficult, as can a few of the Pine Hollow series. The series has now appeared in ebook format.

Links and sources

There is a lot of stuff out there on the Saddle Club, which is why I’m not going to be going into the usual bibliographical detail over these titles. The books have appeared with different covers (in the early titles at least) for the English and USA markets. For more biographical info, try the Wikipedia entry, and there is an interview with Bonnie Bryant here. There’s a fansite on the Saddle Club, and another on Pine Hollow, both of which have plenty of detail on the books. This site lists all the books, with cover shots.