Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside and the playgrounds of the world, Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles, Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata and Score!, offer an intoxicating blend of skulduggery, swooning romance, sexual adventure and hilarious high jinks.
Riders, the first and steamiest in the series, takes the lid off international showjumping, a sport where the brave horses are almost human, but the humans behave like animals.
The brooding hero, gypsy Jake Lovell, under whose magic hands the most difficult horse or woman becomes biddable, is driven to the top by his loathing of the beautiful bounder and darling of the show ring, Rupert Campbell-Black. Having filched each other’s horses, and fought and fornicated their way around the capitals of Europe, the feud between the two men finally erupts with devastating consequences during the Los Angeles Olympics.
Some could argue that the book is a product of its time. However, I don’t think that’s sufficient. This reads as a: racist, sexist, homophobic, classist soap opera with horses.
The plot meandered so much I had no sense of where it was going or which characters would be the final focus.
And there is a rape scene. It is never acknowledged as such. It was extremely upsetting, not just because of the content but because of the flippant way it was handled and also because of the absolutely natural way it developed from the atrocious attitudes towards men, women, and relationships throughout the entire book.
I had to give this a rating sadly.