Top critical review
Not her best!
on 5 March 2015
I have to say I like Jilly Cooper and find most of her books very readable and enjoyable. In the last couple of years I've re-read "Riders" and "Rivals" both of which are excellent - particularly "Rivals" which has true "can't put it down" quality. I would suggest that if you want to try Jilly Cooper for the first time go with Rivals" and you'll be impressed.
Would that I could give the same praise to "Polo" but sadly that's not possible. First of all it paints a picture (and I know the book was written some time ago) of polo the sport being as big as Premier League football if not bigger - the players are huge stars pursued round the world by the tabloid press. Well I have to say in my world and I think most people's worlds polo has always been very much a small minority interest sport pursued by a select few rich people in which the population at large has no interest whatsoever. In other words when you read "Polo" you have to imagine yourself in some sort of alternative universe where polo matters and is the world's most important and newsworthy sport - not easy to do!
Moving on from that the book contains various endless descriptions of particular matches. How boring is that! I'm interested in football but I can't say I'd want to read a novel containing umpteen detailed descriptions of matches.
And then there's the characterisation....as others have said the principal female lead (Perdita) is so unlikeable she is a complete blot on the novel. She is wholly self centred and unpleasant and has no positive qualities at all so that doesn't help. Some of the other characterisation is frankly laughable - Angel the embittered Argentinian is a complete caricature with regular hilarious dialogue. Perdita's mother, Daisy, is a complete wimp who should have been put out of her misery very early in the book.
And then there's the plot - there isn't one! All that happens is that the characters plan and then play endless polo matches whose results are irrelevant to the reader. Occasionally to beef up the flagging narrative the characters go abroad - to Argentina and the USA - where they continue to plan and play endless polo matches... Who cares!!
I read this on my kindle but I would think the paper novel must be about a thousand pages long - being charitable I reckon that's about six hundred pages too many.
It's not all bad and others have clearly enjoyed it more than me. There are some of Jilly's lovely puns along the way - but "Polo" is very definitely not one of her best. From memory "The Man who made Husbands Jealous" is much better and a return to form so perhaps the best tactic is just to skip "Polo"?