dangermousie: (HYD: Rui book)
[personal profile] dangermousie
I am going to try to do periodic reading posts because I do read a lot so it might be fun to blab about it.

Part of the reason there haven't been so many posts in the last couple of days is that I've been obsessed with Jilly Cooper's Wicked! and just finished it. Now I am reading Jump! (no, I have no idea why there are exclamation marks in the titles).

I've posted about her before, but in case you missed it, Jilly Cooper is the grande dame of those super-thick, deliciously snarky, melodramatic British novels which aren't really chick lit but are a somewhat trashy, R-rated delight. She's been writing forever and is still active.

I love some of her Rutshire Chronicles books more than others but they are all great fun:

* Riders - her first uber-popular one, this one follows a group of show-jumping stars for around a decade. Like all of her non-'girl name' (her early books with heroine names as titles, and not very thick) books, this one has a cast of thousands, but the story revolves around the rivalry between two very different show-jumpers: (1) Jake Lovell, a poor gypsy who has almost uncanny rapport with animals, a deprived background, a marriage to a wonderful if plain woman for money and a burning desire to best Rupert Campbell-Black who made his school-life hell and (2) the above-mentioned Rupert, who is very upper-class, gorgeous, snarky, bed-hopping, amoral, occasionally cruel, loyal only to his best friend Billy Lloyd-Foxe, and whose marriage to gorgeous but self-absorbed Helen disintegrates from incompatibility to WW3 by the end of the book. It's funny, I started this book pulling for Jake 100% and dying for him to crush Rupert, but somehow by the end, I was utterly Team Rupert even if I'd commit homicide if he ever attempted to date any friend or family member.

* Rivals - my favorite! Because Rupert finds true love! OK, OK, it's only partially a favorite because of that. It's also a favorite because it was my first JC and also wickedly hilarious. But yeah, the romance between Rupert and Taggie made me swoon - mmmmmm, that ending scene at the airport! Anyway, this is set a number of years after Riders and involves a TV franchise run by ruthless, dictatorial and evil Tony Baddingham. A very varied group of people who are fed up or have been victimized by Tony decide to take him on and fight to get the franchise. One of the franchise members is Rupert, long divorced, retired from show-jumping and a Tory Minister for Sport. In the course of the book, Rupert falls hopelessly (and for the first time in his life) in love with the gorgeous, sweet-natured Taggie O'Hara but tries to fight it as being too unsuitable for her with his past and age difference. (Btw, this is one of the few times I don't mind 'rake redeemed by the love of a good woman' set-up because it's pretty clear that due to his (lack of) upbringing and personality, the guy needs a very sweet and loving domestic Madonna on a pedestal type of significant other).

* Polo - Polo follows the temperamental, immature but sports-mad Perdita, the illegitimate daughter of a gentle portrait-painter Daisy. Perdita's goal and dream in life to play polo under the tutelage of Ricky France-Lynch, a legendary polo player who has suffered some horrible personal tragedies and is only now finding his footing. There is a huge cast of characters - probably JC's nicest and most functional romantic interest - Luke Alderton, madly in love with Perdita but giving way as she gets obsessed with his idiot brother Red; Chessie, Ricky's awful ex-wife; Angel - an Argentine polo player who dreams of playing against the English captain who tortured him during the Falklands War - my second-favorite scene in the book involves him and Bibi, his OTP - if you read the book, you know which one. In fact, I ship them a lot more than I do obnoxious Perdita with darling Luke, or even Ricky/Daisy. (Of course, my first-favorite scene is Rupert and Taggie's wedding. Aaaaaah, most romantic thing ever).

* The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous - I believe I summed it up here. Together with Rivals and Wicked, it forms my triumvirate of fave JC books. I want a Lysander!

* Apassionata - ummmmmm. It's 80% a dud. I loathe Abigail, the heroine, I find everyone else in the book, including her OTP Viking and her friend Marcus (Rupert's son from first marriage) boring etc etc. Classical music is great to listen to, but makes the most boring novel topic. The 20%? The whole deliciously long sequence with Rupert and Taggie going to adopt in Colombia (Taggie can't have children - for why, see Polo) and actually ending up with two kids because Rupert ends up getting attached to this hideous, mistreated, but super-courageous little boy.

* Score! - Tristan, a young French director shows up to film a movie version of Don Carlos (the opera) but the usual sleeping around/backstabbing cast hijinks take a break when there is an actual murder. There is a love story that is late but welcome (Tristan/Lucy), a pairing I never thought would be cool but ended up awesome (Tabitha/Wolf) and it's always great to revisit the Campbell-Blacks but there is a lot that is wrooooooong. OK, not as much of a dud as Apassionata, but some of the plot developments break even my suspension of disbelief (Tabitha's whole storyline, though I am happy how and with whom she ended up - I mean, she starts the novel falling for Tristan, then falling in lust an marrying Isa Lovell, becoming an alcoholic, losing a baby, getting raped by Rannaldini and then ending up with Wolf, Rannaldini's son (which - ick, however lovely and Daddy-hating Wolf is. Plus, honestly, I don't see Rupert being OK with anyone with the last name Rannaldini near his daughter, especially since he knows she was raped and was only prevented from committing murder by the fact that someone else got there first)), the whole Rannaldini storyline is just sickening (a lot more than anything in Wicked, which the reviewers were up in arms about), and once again, opera in novels is boring.

* Wicked! - I love I love I love. I gulped it in two days and was so obsessed, I didn't feel like doing anything else. This one takes place over 3-4 years and follows Janna, a young and idealistic head of school, who is given the impossible task of rejuvenating and saving Larkminster School, the school that is for the kids for the British equivalent of the 'projects' - the neglected kids of the large counsel estate. It doesn't help that the board wants her to fail so that they can close the school and sell the land for a pretty penny. Janna is a complex character - she is smart, dedicated and infinitely caring, but she also has a disastrous temper and a weakness for married men. One of these married men is Hengist Brett-Taylor, the head of Bagley, the infinitely posh and expensive private school. Driven in part by idealism and in part by Janna's charms, Hengist offers to merge the schools for certain activities and that unleashes all sorts of things. Once again, this has a cast of thousands - the adults include Emlyn, the hunky Welsh teacher/rugby coach; the horrifying Randal Stancombe, who is a ruthless developer; Lily and the Brigadier, Janna's eldery but awesome neighbors; Alex and Poppet Bruce, the second-in-command at Bagley and his wife, who are straight out of Dickens in their awfulness. The kids include the awful, borderline sociopath Cosmo Rannaldini who is, nonetheless, very entertaining, and his thuggish 'bodyguards;' the gorgeous Bianca Campbell-Black who is the darling of her posh school but is utterly smitten by 'Feral' (no, thank God, it's only a nickname), a kid from the projects with a junkie mother and dyslexia, but utter genius at sports; the bitchy queen bee Jade Stancombe; Pearl, who is amazing at make-up and fashion but shoplifts and cuts herself; Kylie Rose, who's had her first kid at 12; Xavier Campbell-Black, bullied and sullen but who finds himself; and my favorites, Paris Alvaston and Dora Belvedon - Dora being the youngest offspring of a doting (but dead) father and a horrible bitch of a mother. Dora supplements her income by selling things to tabloids, she smuggled her dog to school, and she is hopelessly in love with Paris Alvaston, who has been brought up in various orphanages and has no idea who his parents are (and who would so be my obsessive crush if I read this book at 16). Paris is obsessed with books and is actually incredibly smart, plus good-looking enough to have even the posh girls at Bagley swooning. However, he also has about a metric ton of issues about trust, opening up and affection. He's also coping with some awful stuff but to say more would be spoilery...We also get to see more of Rupert and Taggie (still in love after 20 years, yay!) and their brood and I won't say more except for AWWWWWWWW.

But I must put in a warning - this is, in some ways, a lot darker than her other books - the kids are having underage sex and doing drugs galore, and there is a subplot about child molesters. Doesn't bother me, but MMV though I confess I had to age up all the kids a couple of years in my head, no matter what JC kept telling me about their ages, because I am not going to buy a 12-yr-old selling stories to tabloids, and while I am willing to buy people finding their 'forever love' at a young age, surely three couples doing so is stretching it a bit. But I don't care, even with that, and JC's lack of understanding of tattoos (if you get one at age 10, even supposing you could find someone to give it to you, which seeing it's the slums, you may, by the time you hit 16 and are 6' tall, your tattoo is going to be bent out of all recognition, no matter where it is. I know it's a big plot point, but still, give the guy a mole or something instead) because it's so awesome, I love it anyway because it's so entertaining and emo and hits all the right notes and gives me a ton of ships - Janna/Emlyn, Dora/Paris, even Bianca/Feral.

* Jump! - Etta, recently widowed after a dog's life with her tyrannical husband Sampson is now being put-upon by her equally awful children. But she rescues a gravely injured horse and that may be a start of a new life for her. I like it, but I am not in love. I guess teenagers are more my bag than senior citizens. It's funny and sweet but I am not really involved (though I do wish Etta would off her horrible kids). About the best thing are the glimpses of Rupert, Taggie and co., and also Dora being a secondary character and still being with Paris.

OK, this is long enough for a dissertation. Anyone read this?
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November 2012

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