Jump! is Jilly Cooper’s latest blockbusting novel – and the first since 2006. It’s vintage Cooper: a fabulously entertaining romp through the world of jump racing, with a wonderful cast including several cameo appearances from some of her best-loved characters.
Etta Bancroft is a sweet, kind, and still-beautiful granny who adores racing and harbours a crush on one of its stars, the handsome, legendary owner-trainer Rupert Campbell-Black. When her bully of a husband dies, Etta’s selfish, ambitious children drag her from her lovely family house to live in a hideous modern bungalow in the village of Willowwood in Larkshire, to act as an unpaid nanny to their children.
Her neighbour, powerful tycoon and ex-footballer Valent Edwards, has bought the big house next door, and plans to live there with his glamourous partner and famous actress Bonny Richards.
One night, Etta stumbles across a horribly mutilated filly in the woods, and persuades the outraged Valent to take her in. With Etta’s love and care, the horse miraculously pulls through and, by now christened Mrs Wilkinson, captivates everyone in the village. DNA tests reveal her to be a spectacularly well-bred racehorse.
To pay for the filly’s upkeep and training, Etta forms a village syndicate – and the fun really begins. In JUMP! we are introduced to a riotous mix of village characters including a demoralised former ambassador, a crotchety old gardener, a lecherous bank manager, a lovelorn teacher, a lazy author and a ritzy but histrionic ageing actress.
Etta’s syndicate is also spiced up by a stunning tree surgeon, two sexy school girls and Willowwood’s gay vicar who comes along for the ride.
As they all cavort around the country to the races in a minibus clanking with bottles, the story rampages from wild parties at Newbury and Ludlow to musical beds in Stratford, the thrills and spills of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and a thrilling climax at the Grand National.
In Jump! readers meet the rich, capricious owners used to calling the shots, the obsessive trainers trying to outwit them and the gallant stable lads and lasses who work so hard and weep with joy when their precious charges come home safely.
We also get to know the incredibly tough, brave jockeys, who in this most dangerous and violent of sports, play even harder knowing every race may be their last. They include gorgeous Irish champion jockey Rogue Rogers, who rides women as effortlessly as winners, sinister Killer O’Kagan who sends shivers through the weighing room and will do anything to bury Mrs Wilkinson, and Eddie Alderton, Rupert’s grandson, a gilded bratty knows-it-all.
Finally in Jump! readers will surely fall in love with the horses: brilliant delinquent Furious, vain Count Romeo, hulking Bafford Playboy and wise Sir Cuthbery, Mrs Wilkinson’s sugar daddy. Above all, Mrs Wilkinson herself, hilarious, heroic, and so gutsy she will gallop into our hearts forever!
And the rest is horse-story…..
Jilly Cooper OBE is a journalist, writer and author of many number one best-selling novels. She lives in Gloucestershire with her husband Leo, her rescue greyhound Feather, and five cats. JUMP! was published on 16th September 2010 by Bantam Press, priced !8.99.