Whether you have read Jilly Cooper or not you are bound to have heard of her and her racey novels. Her latest one Mount, published on 8th September, is all you would expect: taking us back to the world of horses, racing, and the notorious Rupert Campbell-Black. He is regularly voted one of literature’s most attractive and unsuitable men, now coming up to 60 he remains devastatingly desirable, a Rhett Butler of his English Country estate.
Starting life as a journalist, her first column for the Sunday Times was in 1969 when she opened the doors for a fresh draft of sexual liberation, and the freedom for girls like me to fall in love with unsuitable men and talk about it.
I devoured her early books such as Octavia Harriet, and Prudence and felt I had found an author who satisfied my passion for romance in the real world. Jilly Cooper has provided my escape route and with the first of the Rutshire novels, Riders, published in 1985 has helped me through the usual drudgery of married life with children and a career, by providing me with a diversion into worlds of excitement.
Plenty of the established characters are joined by new ones, from particularly southern Africa, as we enter the usual world of rivalry, sabotage, skulduggery set against a backdrop of racing stables populated by rampant horses and humans.
The animals are all characters which was confusing at times, as Jilly anthropomorphises, and had to check back with the character list always helpfully provided by her at the start of the book. Was it a person or a horse attending a book signing and drinking wine? It was a horse!
Still horse, dog, man, woman, or teenage mother they all enjoy a good romp and not much gets in the way of lusty frolics: you’ll find more puns than morals in this tale of sexual utopia; happily, age is no barrier to passion.
But it is not all unbridled sex, marriage is involved and, after 52 years of marriage, Jilly still believes in the happy ever after but with temptation a hurdle to be jumped over.
Don’t expect a great literary work as you plough through the 640 pages, but do expect to be thoroughly entertained. Jilly has a clever way with words and delights in peppering her work with puns and innuendos. You may find a little soul searching among the characters, but nothing to cause any real concern.
This is a novel to enjoy and not be ashamed to read; it is what it is and, I for one am grateful for the sheer escapism into another world.
Mount! By Jilly Cooper is published in hardback by Bantam Press on 8th September 2016 RRP £20.00