About the author
Elizabeth Waud has written just this book (at least, under that name). I do wonder if she wrote more under another name, as Easter Meeting is a very accomplished book indeed for a first and only novel.
I have been able to find out no biographical information about her whatsover, but I would guess from Easter Meeting that she had at least visited Lancashire, where the book is set, if not lived there because of the amount of topographical detail in the book. She was certainly familiar with the quicksands in Morecambe Bay, which play a dramatic part in the book. It is the story of four children who spend their holidays on their aunt’s stud farm, as their parents are away. It’s a pity Elizabeth Waud didn’t write more, because this novel is very good indeed: the children (two of them are teenagers) are very well observed, particularly Flicker (Felicia), one of those personalities whose feelings and impulses tend to govern everybody else’s.
Miss Knox, the aunt with whom the children are staying, is brisk in the extreme. The children’s parents are away, which they mostly seem to be in children’s literature, and there is a rather poignant moment when Geoffrey, the eldest at 17, is asked if his mother is dead, as they spend all holidays with their aunt. He replies: ‘ “You thought she was dead? It almost seems like it sometimes,” said Geoffrey, so quietly that John could hardly hear.’ But the children, as children do, get on with life.
The book is a reflection of the life many boarding school children with absent parents lived; their aunt is emotionally remote, and makes no concessions at all to the children. She does not like Simon’s animal-keeping habit, and that is that. Having said that, I wonder if Elizabeth Waud was similarly brisk: when describing Holm Oaks, the house, she says:
‘..only the hall was panelled, and that had been done by Miss Knox’s grandfather, to keep up with the fashion of the time. Luckily he had not had time to panel the other rooms, with their elegant plastered walls and beautifully adorned ceilings, before he took a fall out hunting and broke his back.’
This is, I suppose, one method of maintaining the historic fabric of a building though it does seem a little hard on the perpetrator.
I am probably being too hard on Elizabeth Waud here: the children are beautifully observed, as are the horses, who all emerge as authentic characters; from the stallions Golden Boy and Bayard to the riding school horses Heather and Storm.
Finding the book
Reasonably easy to find.
Harrap, London, 1959, 208 pp. Illus Sheila Rose
The book opens with Geoffrey, Felicia, Simon and Loraine Knox making their separate ways from school to Lancashire, where they spend holidays with their aunt, who has a stud farm. Simon wants to look after his animals; Loraine to paint, but Felicia wants only to ride, and it looks as if this will be scuppered as a party of boys are also coming to stay. After initial disasters when they meet the boys, things calm down, and they all go to a point to point and co-operate in rescuing a horse stuck on the quicksands.