Jump! Paperback – 28 Apr 2011
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"Jump! is the perfect read for chilly autumn nights. Hugely entertaining, touching and funny, yet again Cooper has a winner" (Daily Express)
"This is definitely the most exciting book that landed on my doormat this year. Cooper is a major genius... the narrative zips along, pierced with her characteristically brilliant ear for dialogue and empathy for human relationships of all kinds. You won't be able to put it down" (Sara Lawrence Daily Mail)
"Near-magical ability to conjure up a world and populate it with people for whom you feel a deep affection" (Observer)
"To read one of Cooper's books is to escape into an alternative universe in which all is right with the world" (Guardian)
"A fast-paced and enjoyable read" (Sun)
Jilly Cooper returns to horses in a fabulously entertaining romp through the world of jump racingSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
But there are lovely characters here and Jilly Cooper can write in her sleep. Jump! is a really lovely, entertaining book which should be a treat for most Cooper fans, let's just hope she gets her confidence and enjoyment back for another book afterwards.
I could not abide Etta Bancroft either - I know she was married to a complete" illegitimate" but there are wet characters and then there are characters that are so drippy that they belong down the nearest drain - Etta , quite clearly in this book which lacked the multi-stranding of most of Jilly's books , was the main character . And that , for me , killed the book from the outset .
I ask myself " would Rupert C-B have put up with her ? And the answer is a resounding "no" - (nearest drain ?) Too wet to even make a challenge against her late husbands will from which she was excluded but his vile mistress benefitted from - Etta couldn't get wetter could she ? (Yep, she can)
Then we have the enormous cast of "love-ies" and locals . for which, it took me two readings to distinguish between . We have Etta's two appalling children - to have one appalling child is unfortunate, to have raised two looks like carelessness - but they are both utterly vile . In fact, Wet Etta has one nice son in law , Alan ,and a nice 15 year old grandchild in the shape of Trixie , no one Jilly, calls their girls Trixie these days , no one calls their pet poodle Trixie. It's these hangers on like Debbie and the Major, the gay Vicar , the undecided tree surgeon and the revolting cast of actors that for me, spoiled the book although the also padded it out too. Jilly is usually so good at her supporting cast but she seems to have missed her way with this lot . Not as well drawn as in other books,like "Score", this lot and their capers just bored me . So I found myself not caring about most of them too
OK, you have to, as usual , suspend belief because there is no way a blind in one eye horse , barely 15 hands and a mare , could have had the career of the redoubtable Mrs Wilkinson, ( registered name Usurper I won't illuminate here in case you haven't read it ) - I can do that , suspend belief that is . Then you have to suspend it again for Amber Lloyd-Fox . Ok , suspended .
Jilly did a lot of research into National Hunt for this book and admits to breaking some rules about racing which I can forgive again . To a point . These days a horse has a passport , all DNA is held at Wetherby and you cannot change the racing name under which the horse was first registered - therefore Mrs Wilkinson could not have run under rules under that name once her real name was discovered to be Usurper . Stable names change all the time - not racing names .
Then we get some characters that appear to be in there for effect or maybe a political statement which creates unfortunate sub-plots: a homosexual love affair involving the village vicar and the tree surgeon which has a badly written homosexual sex scene which is excruciating to read - probably worse if you are a gay male couple because you will know its nothing like that at all . The prominent role of jockey Rafiq Khan, "a magnificently moody Pakistani with matchless looks and militant tendencies" ( a lot of 'm's ) who has served time for terrorism, It was quite daring to put in a political and religious "bomb" like al Q'aida involvement ( a bit like the IRA stopping the Grand National from being run in the early 1990's ) it doesn't work: his characterisation is painfully naive and patronising and does the book no favours at all.
Another downtrodden groom in Tommy the un-stable, stable girl , another trashed marriage from a silent, taciturn but brilliant trainer (shades of Ricky France -Lynch) whose wife is shacked up with a rich and nasty man ( like Bart Alderton ?) - we have seen all these types of characters before and they were better conceived and better drawn .
Then the "male lead " in the form of "Valent Edwards " ( a grown older George Hungerford ?) shacked up with the un-delightful , thick , self absorbed but beautiful actress Bonnie who hopes to become the new Mrs Edwards but Valent ( its really Valentine ) continually mourns the loss of his crimplene wearing late wife who wore Rive Gauche ( which she pronounced Reeve Gorsh apparently ) . I could find no parallel for Etta - I just hoped that as Taggie Campbell -Black gets older she does not morph into Etta cause then we really are in deep doody.
Well , as Etta probably has a few bits of crimplene left in her wardrobe its no wonder that eventually Valent finds her more attractive than any other woman in the village - I mean , who wouldn't .
There is a nasty glossed over rape of a 15 year old by an older actor and maybe if this had been post Jimmy Savile , Jilly would have not dusted over it so lightly, at least, I hope not .
The scenes with Billy Lloyd-Fox were handled well and in typical Rupert C-B style - I regret that he didn't marry feisty Fenella Maxwell but went back to the utterly vile Janey but that's several books ago - could have made his character have more longevity cause I always thought Jilly rather short changed Billy after Riders .
I look forward to the next book, I just hope that Jilly has had the good sense to jettison some of these new (but somehow old and re-hashed) characters and draw either on her huge stock of better ones , or has learned from reading reviews like this , that most of us, her fans , hated this batch .
Have heard its another horse oriented novel which is good because the groundwork has been done . I think Jilly should get her head around the world of dressage ( Strictly Come Dancing with horses ) - it has its fair share of prima-donnas because another book about racing even flat racing , might repeat some of the mistakes she made in this one .
We need a really nasty Rannaldini character - so unbelievable as to be believable - for every hero there must be a counter -hero and this booked lacked both .
A lot of other reviewers have been spot on about the token social commentary, dubious plotlines (a failed suicide bomber comes out of jail and becomes a Gold Cup winning rider, and a one eyed 14.2 pony can outrun racehorses.... really Jilly?) and too many characters so I won't repeat them here, let's move straight onto the things that irked the most.
Continuity - unless I was imagining things, Dora only aged a year or two over the course of the book, and Trixie seemed to be getting younger.
Character cliches - I much prefer a book with a lead character I can identify with, or imagine as a person I'd like to know; but in Jump I just wanted to slap Etta and tell her to man up! Old fat businessmen with young pretty women on their arms, fat lonely single women who only get any interest once they've lost some weight, pretty blonde jockeys, precocious school girls..... its a feature of all of Jilly's books, but this time I actually found some of it offensive. Maybe she's getting too long in the tooth for this style of writing, or maybe I'm just getting too old to read it.
Grammar and speech patterns - I find it hard to believe that every single person on Jilly's cast of hundreds would use exactly the same upper middle class/posh figures of speech, or that everyone would repeat exactly the same grammatical errors (eg. I better, we better instead of I had/I'd better, we had/we'd better....)
But lastly, and most importantly to me, the botched depiction of a teenage girl being groomed, seduced and gang-raped. Bad enough that there was more a little hint of the girl being a tart who brought it upon herself, but to compound things this part of the story ended in an unwanted pregnancy for her and absolutely no adverse consequences for any of the perpetrators. I was absolutely disgusted by this, but kept reading for a while in the vain hope that the story would be revisited with some social commentary or lessons to be learned. At the point where it became clear that Jilly wasn't going to resolve this story line (beyond one of the perps turning out to be a nice guy after all who got his girl), I stopped reading and deleted the book. I won't be reading any more Jilly Cooper books.
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