I Won’t Read Fifty Shades (or How I Fell For Jilly Cooper)

Borne out of my refusal to read Fifty Shades of Sh*te but reluctance to bypass a literary trend altogether, I struck upon Jilly Cooper and will never look back. 

Jilly rocking 80’s barnet and craaaaazily skinny shoulder.

Pseudo-erotic fiction the intelligent way, Riders (and the rest of the Rutshire Chronicles) is chick-lit for the thinking woman. This is #truefact because when I shamefacedly confessed to my literary sins, all of my very clever girlfriends were thoroughly supportive of my choice. Yeah gurrrl power… well, girl power-ish given that we’re all salivating over Rupert Campbell-Black (or R C-B as he’s now knowingly referred to) a.k.a. the roaring misogynist who’s so wrong he’s in fact, totally smokin’ hot.

A million miles from the clichéd clap-trap that is churned out by (probably male) ghost writers trying and failing to unleash our dormant lust, Jilly wrote raunch with wit and a generous pinch of salt. Her fiction encompasses everything faaaabulous about the eighties, as she draws even the most discerning reader (me, obvs) into hilarious tales of class warfare, horses and romping. Her poshos are idiotically charming, while her handsome, vengeful underdog dispels his impoverished woes by diligently sleeping his way ‘round the stable yard. (Although not with the horses. Jilly wouldn’t write about sex with horses. Just sex and horses. #crucialdistincion)

There’s a lot of cringe-worthy breast-cupping, whispered double-entendres and shagging that takes place in horse-boxes but it’s all essentially good, sort-of clean fun. There’s definitely no mention of weird cat o’ nine tails/implements of torture; just breathy sighs, much pinching of jodhpur-clad bottoms and hilarious innuendo. (I love an innuendo).

So although Jilly won’t go down as an Austen or Bronte or Woolf, she more than deserves a place in literature’s hall of fame. Yes, her novels err on the side of trash but I really don’t give two hoots because what they lack in substance, they more than make up for in style – unlike the aforementioned FSoG which I’ve been told (I swear it) has neither style nor substance – just one warped, masochistic sex scene after another. Gross.

Pondering a particularly philosophical bit. *knits brow

J-Coo on the other hand, frequently reduces me to tears of laughter (and one time, actual tears. I blame hormones). Her books are pure middle-class-lolz with R C-B as the irresistible sexist pig of a poster boy; a total bigot whose gorgeousness leaves girls weak at the knees in spite of their feminist principles. I know I shouldn’t fancy him but I do. He’s tall and fit and wears breeches like a modern day Mr. Darcy. I ask you (as did the Sunday Telegraph) who could ask for more!?

Yes, that is a fur muff in the background. And what?

Therefore, if you’re a fellow literary snob and think Pride and Prej is ‘fluffy’, I urge you to give Jill a chance. Yes, the contemporary covers are EMBARRASS-o-RAMA and look thoroughly naff on bookshelves/poking out of handbags but please put your pride to one side. Fall in and out of love with Rupert (mostly in) and wish you’d tried harder at pony club (or not had a horse/hay allergy – teary blindness really puts a dampener on gymkhanas).

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