By Jilly Cooper
“In his late 60s […] Valant had been described by Louise Malone, one of Rupert’s most comely stable lasses, as: ‘A cross between my dad and my grandad, but you still want to shag him’.” One of my friends reads Jilly Cooper every night, mainly to find lines like this, at once wholesome and filthy: not one but two hints of incest, becalmed by the almost naive aplomb of that “shag”. I would love to reveal that Mount! is about rock climbing, or (its declared subject) international horse-riding. Cooper is the prose laureate of rumpy-pumpy – less earnest and more fun than sex in janey-come-latelys like E.L. James: “[Valant was] feeling for her breasts which fitted so sweetly in his big, goalkeeper’s hands.” There’s a history lesson about dastardly Rupert Campbell-Black, the anti-hero of several Cooper bonkbusters starting with Riders. His ancestor, Rupert Black, “had no income and fewer principles, but was such an amusing fellow that a fast aristocratic set had taken him up”. Readers will enjoy the intrigues surrounding the Hong Kong Cup: “Hong Kong […] made more money in tax on the day of the Hong Kong Cup than the country did in an entire year – money which also paid for the hospitals”. Will an impressed China set up its own horse-racing industry?