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4.5 out of 5 stars131
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 8 February 2002
If you have never read a Jilly Cooper book before - make this your first and you are guaranteed to be hooked for life - I promise. The research that goes into her novels defies belief which is why when I pick up one of her books I know it is going to a good one and not only an immensely enjoyable read but also I can guarantee I will finish the book having learnt something new on the way.
In Riders, the key storyline is around the world of show jumping and three loveable characters Rupert Campbell-Black, Billy Lloyd Fox and Jake Lovell, you will fall in love all of of them but for completely different reasons Rupert for his being a loveable rogue and Billy for his being a loveable teddy bear and Jake for his mystic charms and misfortune.
Jilly takes us into their world, capivates us totally with their antics, achievements, scullduggery, highs and lows and makes you become totally involved! If only.....
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on 5 April 2000
My Mom bought me this book on a trip to England back in the mid-1980's when it was published. All she knew was that it was "horsey", and I was a horse-crazy teen. I have thanked her ever since for bringing Jilly Cooper into my life! Perhaps because it was the first, "Riders" is still my favorite, although I love her subsequent tales as well -- even the non-"horsey" ones. The characters are so well-developed, that there are so many people to love and hate -- and hate to love! Rupert should not be a sympathetic character, yet who doesn't root for him in the final Olympic test of his heart and strength? Jake is moody, broody, and takes Tory for granted -- yet OF COURSE you want things to wind up well for him. And even though Fen takes a detour into bratty self-obsession, you have to hope that she and Dino will get it together in the end. I go back and re-read this book every year or two, and EVERY TIME I hate to put it down, and I'm depressed when I reach the end. I hope Jilly Cooper continues writing about the antics of these fabulous characters. I'd hate to think "Score" was her last tale about this group! There are so many stories left to tell. Read this book!
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on 16 June 2010
Well, this is certainly no Pride and Prejudice! This is Cooper's debut book; a naughty romp through the elite world of show-jumping from local shows to the very top of the sport - the World Championships and the Olympics. Our main characters are Jake Lovell, a Gypsy underdog, and the first showing of Rupert Campbell-Black (who will appear in future books by Jilly Cooper), the good-looking rogue of the horsy set who jumps in and out of beds with no thought to the consequences.

There are masses of other characters that people the pages of this huge tome. Despite this, they are characterised simply and well, with distinctive traits and values. Unfortunately, it is hard to be sure who to root for! In the beginning we are firmly behind Jake - his tough start in the sport, his sympathetic treatment of horses, and his courageous win of the World Championship in the face of almost-impossible odds ensure that we feel certain he is the hero of the piece. We cheer when he finds Macauley, a horse that Rupert mistreats, and then uses this horse to beat Rupert in the Championship. We adore his family of Tory and Fen and his two adorable children. However, key events in the book lead us to firmly throw our weight behind Rupert - despite all his many, many faults. We find the behaviour of Jake and Helen - Rupert's wife - abominable.

My least favourite character is definitely Helen. I dislike her mismanagement of Rupert, her neurosis, her brittle perfection, her inability to stand up for herself. I think she is weak and end up believing she deserves everything she gets! I love Billy - he is one of the few characters who, despite flaws, is consistently a person to have sympathy for.

The book is long and rambling and could do with a little more structure, although Cooper's research is excellently done. It follows a now tried and tested formula of taking a gossipy approach to relationships and sex, but we should remember that Jilly was one of the first to tread this path. Riders was a genuinely naughty book when it was first released, with swear words and steamy sex scenes that are now included in books as a matter of course.

Certainly Jilly Cooper's writing is not to all tastes - her books are often considered lowbrow trash, only suitable for holiday reading. I, however, adore her books. I love the doorstop bulk of them, where you can really become invested in the characters and the story. I especially enjoy the fact that the horses and dogs are as big characters as the people themselves - in this book Sailor, Macauley, Revenge, Desdemona, Badger include some of those animals who simply leap from the page.

Altogether I would recommend this book to horse lovers who have no issues with a naughty slant; readers of "chick lit" and people who want a slyly funny and very good-natured read. Extremely enjoyable.
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on 30 August 2011
Ho ho. So much to enjoy about Jilly Cooper's Riders - the definitive bonkbuster from the 1980s.

I read Riders for the first time in the summer of 1995 because I wanted to be a writer, and I wanted to read as many different types of blockbuster novels as possible. I felt embarrassed to read it, to be honest. I had assumed that Jilly Cooper books were written mainly for girls, rather than boys. Maybe they are.

Another reason why I didn't expect to like the book is that it's about showjumping, which has never really got me going. But I just loved this book. I've re-read it numerous times, always in the summer, and it still feels exciting, fresh, funny and pacey. Some books really draw you into their world. They make you want to be part of it. And they make you want to be able to write something that is as entertaining and engaging. For me, this book is one of them. Always makes me want to have a drink, too.

The characters are very memorable. They may be larger than life, but they do feel real, presumably drawn from Jilly Cooper's social circle. They all have aspirations, wit, motivations, fears, ambitions, victories and setbacks. Even if you don't like showjumping, the setting is exciting. Like any sport, in order to succeed, the sportsmen and women have to make many sacrifices and dedicate their lives to a pursuit of excellence. Rider's captures all the exciting ingredients of that world, showing people living their lives to the full, in order to reap big rewards. And that sums up the essence of the book. It's a distillation of people living life full throttle. I might have to go off and read it now. Probably with bottles of wine, or an enormous whisky.
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on 16 August 1999
If you haven't read any of Jilly Cooper's books following the exploints of Rupert Campbell-Black etc, then you are missing out on a great deal of fun.
Quite simply, this is hilarious writing. Jilly pokes the fun out of the upper classes showing them to be butt of all humour.
If you are going on holiday, or simply down in the mouth, then buy, borrow, steal a copy of Riders and sit back an enjoy a jolly romp throught Rutshire. Once read, you'll be hooked, and likely to read the rest of the series.
And belive me, the books can be re-read many times - you'll still be laughing out loud at the absurdity of some of the characters.
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on 25 May 2015
The book is set and was written in the late 1970's / early 1980's around the world of show jumping: riders, horses and women. And please - even if this is neither your decade nor the topic, I can absolutely reassure you that you will love this book. I'm neither into horses nor who-jumping but couldn't tear myself away from the book. And don't be put of by the length either.

Riders is very much about the characters. Yes, there is a plot - telling us about their lives, loves and intrigues. But what you will fall in love with is the characters. Rupert Campbell-Black, of course, a brute, rich and obnoxious, with women everywhere he goes. His womanising ways are not stopped by marriage to Helen McAuley whom, as it becomes obvious, he is mismatched with. He is almost a bit like an anti-hero and you will almost feel a bit ashamed to actually like him. Then there is Billy Lloyd-Foxe, Rupert's best friend and fellow show-jumper, who is more like a loveable teddy bear. And no, I didn't take to the woman he is going to end up with (no spoilers!). On the opposing end, there is Jake Lovell, with gypsy blood and a brooding nature to match, is another show-jumper who knows Rupert from way back in boarding school when Rupert used to bully him. Will Jake get his own back? Jake's wife was actually a character I really loved for her sweet nature, and Jake... well, we forgive him anything.

This is not to say that the plot has nothing to offer, but maybe a tiny bit predictable. But after such an entertaining read, who cares. You will turn the pages on this book and I can't wait to read to follow-up Riders to see how the story continues.
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on 17 November 2012
Jilly, you are amazing - you have given me hours and hours and hours of pleasure curled up on the sofa with my favourite book in the world. I have read 'Riders' seven times now and each time I love it more than the last. I have read all of the Rutshire Chronicles and this still remains my all-time favourite, perhaps on a par with 'Polo'.

Readers will probably choose the side of either Jake or Rupert (I myself am a true Rupert fan) but as always, her characters are so strongly portrayed you switch back and forth, rooting for Rupert even though you know he's a sod, loving Jake even though he first used Tory, Fen's outrageousness and her romance with Dino leap off the page and you grow to love each and every character. Having grown up with horses it was an added bonus that she had researched her writing about the showjumping circuit very accurately and if you aren't horsey, you will learn so much just by reading this.

She has captured the glamour of the circuit so exactly, introducing characters of a huge multitude, but you don't get confused or forget who is who because she creates them so cleverly and carefully. Billy and his smoking habit whom you are desperate to get past his depression after Janey leaves him, the frightful Molly Maxwell who you just hate, the pompous Colonel and of course the gypsy Jake. The scene where Jake returns to his horses after being in hospital with a shattered leg had me sobbing, my friend had to come and see if I was okay as she could hear my crying. Her writing is just out of this world. I cried at various other points too, but more often I was laughing out loud at her brilliant one-liners and scenes of revalry.

I recommend every single one of her books. This is the first book in the Rutshire Chronicles and you will be hooked. Long live Jilly Cooper!
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on 22 August 2004
This is the best book i have ever read in my life. I didn't want it to ever end! It is so funny because it is so true, it has every single emotion going in it, and is so easy to get into! Most people say they fall for Rupert, but I fell for Jake because of the way he handles his horses and life. Everyone should read this book, even if you are not horsey, I was laughing so hard at some points that it hurt, and then nearly cying with sadness at others. The fact that it had so much of the horse element also did it for me. Highly recomended!!!!!!!!!!
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on 13 November 2010
I was about to buy the new Jilly Cooper 'Jump' that has just been released, when I found that it was part of a series and I was best starting from the beginning. I bought 'Riders' and after the first page, I was hooked!

The story follows a selection of feisty characters through the world of show jumping, the triumphs and the falls, and one hell of a lot of sex. Throughout Jilly makes it almost impossible to back a single character, because you find you love and hate them all for many reasons.

+ Rupert; unfaithful one thousand times over and arrogant, but shows sheer guts, determination and courage especially at the Olympics.

+ Jake; mysterious gypsy but loveable rogue, he shows how kindness and patience can turn a broken horse, rejected by everyone else, into a world-class star.

+ Fen; young and naive, but grows into a determined horsewoman, who proves her place on the British team.

+ Helen; American, red-head, reeking of glamour and vulnerability. Like Marmite: you love her or hate her.

+ Billy; a loveable, laughable, huggable teddy bear. He makes mistakes, like most prats do, some are bigger than others, but you always love him in the end.

+ Janey; a full, voluptuous sexy figure, her confidence is the envy of Helen. And despite an rather unsuccessful foursome on Helen's part, they still remain friends.

+ Tory; cuddable and reliable. She is the cement that holds Jake's nerves together at the crucial times. Somewhat lacking glamour and zest, she can be compared to the reliant robin: out of place, but always there.

The animals are just as much important character as the people: Badger, Wolf, Desdemona, Macaulay, Revenge, Africa, Sailor, Rocky. A structured plot is somewhat lacking, and the continuous story that takes almost 10 years to get through, even with the Olympics finale, can be tiring.

Ultimately, I would definitely recommend it!
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on 1 August 2001
Well what can I say apart from 'wowee!' ! I have read this book six times now and I could easily read it another six ! It is my most treasured possesion ! Rupert Campbell Black REEKS sex but not as much as his rival Jake Lovell whos dark gypsy ways evelope him in mystery and intruige....hmmm. Perfect book for lying on a beach with, or snuggling on the sofa to pour over the pages. This book should have a health warning as it is heavily addictive!
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