Book Review: Riders

In the mid-’00s, I used to watch the BBC programmes Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Women, which involved older celebrities complaining about the modern world and was very funny. One of the contributors to the latter was Jilly Cooper, who always came across as quite jolly and cheery despite the show’s title. I made a mental note that I should probably give one of her books a go some day.

Because I am a terrible procrastinator, it took me over a decade to get round to it, meaning I downloaded Riders on my Kindle and thus had no sense of how long it might be (one of the disadvantages of ebooks). It’s long. It’s super long. 278,000 words of long, according to the internet. I’d actually be interested to see a physical copy, ’cause it’s probably a real doorstopper.


The story is a saga about showjumpers and their love lives that spans the ’70s, culminating in a finale set at the 1980 Olympics. There are what feels like hundreds of characters, and almost every single one of them is an awful human being. The one exception is treated so abysmally by the other characters that she ends up attempting suicide towards the end of the book. None of the others get any kind of comeuppance whatsoever, which is a bit frustrating when you’ve spent 278,000 words really hating them and are looking forward to the freak fire that burns all of them to death in a glorious blaze of justice.

Oh, hang on, there were some other characters that I liked! They were all horses though.

The book’s apparently famous for its sexual content, but in all honesty it’s fairly tame by today’s standards, and the characters are so horrible that it’s just depressing anyway.

I thought I might read the whole series, but I think one will probably do me.

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