Biography

Cooper, Jilly

Jilly Cooper is the doyenne of the horsey story with added zip. She started her writing career as a columnist for The Times, regularly getting into trouble for tackling subjects Times readers thought were not quite the thing. Her novels kicked off with several romantic stories named after their heroines, which were a stalwart part of my life as a teenager in the 1980s. I can remember coming home from university on the train snorting with laughter as I read Emily, Octavia et al, being glared at across the aisle by those whose reading matter was considerably more serious. Jilly Cooper moved on: her novels increased (dramatically) in length, and in raciness. Her later books, set in Rutshire (a fictionalised version of Gloucestershire, where Jilly Cooper now lives) focus on either horses or music, though there is some cross over with most titles.

The series features her most notable hero, Rupert Campbell Black. He is a tall, dark and dangerous to know show jumper, though now just about tamed by his sweet wife, Taggie. Jilly Cooper’s latest story is Jump, featuring a middle aged woman with a crush on RCB. Its cover, based on the infamous Lewis Morley shot of Christine Keeler, leaves the reader in no doubt about what they’re going to get. This latest novel has received mixed reviews: The Sunday Times felt Jilly Cooper had overstepped the line between “frisky high spirits and darker elements” in some areas of the book. Jane Shilling, reviewing the book in The Daily Telegraph, enjoyed Cooper’s “distinctive sweetness of nature,” though thought some of the sex scenes “mechanically filthy”, and the book in need of a good edit. None of this though, will stop me or I suspect many, many others, from reading it.

The books I’ve included in this partial bibliography are those most overtly horsy. Her Rutshire series involve many of the same characters, so there is an element, however small, of horse in most of them.

Finding the books
Very easy. Paperbacks turn up all the time.

Links and sources
Jilly Cooper’s website
Jane Shilling - review of Jump!, Daily Telegraph, 9 Sept 2010
The Sunday Times, review by Elizabeth Buchan, 26 Sept 2010

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