Cover detail of Imogen by Jilly Cooper

Imogen by Jilly Cooper

I'm bringing you the next of my holiday reads and one that definitely fits into the frothy tosh, that are required whilst on holiday. I love a good bonkbuster and over the years have read most of Jilly's works.

Read my review of The Secret Path by Karen Swan

Let me tell you, there is something especially distinctive about a Jilly Cooper novel. You can almost spot one from a 100 paces. Usually a white cover, and a bottom, with an inappropriately placed hand somewhere on said bottom. But what is this? A pink, illustrated cover with no bottom in sight? Let's find out what is going on shall we?

The Plot

As a librarian, Imogen read a lot of books, but none of them covered Real Life on the Riviera. Her holiday with tennis ace, Nicky, and the whole glamorous coterie of journalist, playboy, photographer, was a revelation - and so was she. A prize worth winning. A wild Yorkshire rose among the thorny model girls, Cable and Yvonne, with a rare asset they they'd mislaid years ago. But the path of a jet-set virgin in that lovely wicked world was a hard one. Imogen began to wonder if virtue really was its own reward.

My Thoughts

The first thing to say is that this was written in 1978 and whilst being good fun, is definitely of its time and featuring 1 or 2 outdated attitudes to women.

But it is jolly good fun and first appeared as a serialisation in 19 magazine. Who remembers 19, I certainly do! Back in my youth I read Jackie and Smash Hits, then when I turned 14 began to read 17 which touched on slightly more adult topics. Then on turning 17, ditched 17 magazine which was frankly too young and bought it's more sophisticated big sister 19 magazine. But I digress.

It is really not hard to see the precursor of a number of later Jilly Cooper novels (the ones with the bottom on its cover), and early prototypes of her more famous characters.

When Imogen see rising tennis player , Nicky, she falls head over heels for his charms. He decides to whisk her away to the South of France with his chums, Matt, Cable, Yvonne and James. What follows then is a range of bitchy arguments, bed-hopping, diva-like behaviour and the most outrageous cast of supplementary characters.

Imogen realises that Nicky is spreading his charms more than a little far and wide. How will she cope in this maelstrom?

This is a funny beach definitely for those who love reading about the lives of the rich and shameless. Whilst it is definitely not my favourite Jilly Cooper novel, it was great to see those prototypes of future more successful books and was great fun to read on our holiday. And of course, another distinctive characteristic of Jilly's is right here, her play on language.

The characters are glorious. Cable and Yvonne being the biggest bitches going. Imogen is sweet if a little wet. Matt is the archetypal tortured artist. The novel quickly gets going when the story moves to beautiful, sunny France.

I enjoyed this for the glamorous, film-star drenched parties, beautiful clothes. Good fun, if a little dated.

I will be back on Friday with my next beach read, the first in a popular detective series. See you then!