This series of 13 episodes is based on the books of the same name by K.M. Peyton. It got top reviews in England when it was aired in 1979, and it was shown in the United States on PBS in 1980. Christina, a young woman of 16, is an orphan who has been brought up by a series of maiden aunts. Now she is sent to her uncle’s Yorkshire estate, called Flambards, to live with him and his two sons until she turns 21 and can claim the inheritance from her dead parents. The trick is that the widowed uncle, crippled by a hunting accident, has ruined the estate and needs her (her money). He hopes that bringing her to live with him and his two sons will result in her marrying Mark, the handsome but insufferable older son. However, Christina, just as in the books, can think very well for herself, thank you.
I enjoyed the series so much that I also read the books. The series starts out a bit grimly, and is not so immediately entertaining as some other British series, such as Downton Abbey. The uncle does nothing but drink and listen to stories of hunting from Mark, who shares his enthusiasm for both. The house is cold and dark and unkept, with only a few faithful servants left to oversee the stables and the kitchen. One’s heart tends to gulp for Christina, ordered about by Mark and his father. But the other brother is much more to her liking – sensitive and living chiefly for his interest in aeroplane design. This is the early 1900’s, and planes are just beginning. A new age is dawning and challenging the old, with automobiles, women’s rights, and a new working class coming up in England, one that can’t so easily be put in its place. And then the War comes, and it has its own part in changing things.
Christina learns to ride and actually loves it, and she is good at it. She learns to love the land and the horses too, and even hunting. She is really something to watch, and Christine McKenna portrays her tremendously well. The other actors are good, as well. I recommend you just try the first episode…you probably won’t be able to stop with just that one.