After my recent Jilly Cooper rereading binge, I was ever-hungry for more. Since my holiday, I have reread all of her big novels in their entirety – and downloaded them to my Kindle so that now I have my pick from them all on the go. This has proved a revelation, as they are quite cumbersome to carry around all at once – note to Jilly fans: this alone justifies the purchase of a Kindle.
The early ‘name’ books, of course, do not need rereading as I am constantly doing so. If you have met me for longer than five minutes, odds are you know my feelings about these little works of genius.
So, slightly bereft, I turned to Jilly Cooper’s non-fiction works. Incredibly, this was an area of her oeuvre that I had never fully discovered before. And what a stash of treasures I have found!
How to Stay Married has – for the first time in my life – made me actually want to get married. It also includes household tips that will help everyone, married or not: try to work 8:30 – 4:30 if you can; don’t attempt to wallpaper a room unless you really know what you’re doing; sometimes taking a sleeping pill and going to bed on an argument is preferable to hashing it out all night. It was first written in 1970 and rereleased in 2011 (to coincide with Jilly and Leo’s 50th wedding anniversary) – and I love the old-fashioned permissiveness of it all: you know, stuff we’d spilt up over today, like how it’s best to laugh it off if your husband makes a pass at another woman at a party; how it’s better to have an ‘open gazer’ than a ‘secret doer’ (too true); and that it’s best to wait until your husband is ensconced in a fascinating conversation (and preferably in another room) before you dance cheek-to-cheek with the handsomest man in the room. There’s a lot to be learned, and while some of it is too retro for words, I actually found it pretty useful to be reminded to be cheerful and put on a bit of lipstick before my boyfriend gets home.
How to Survive Nine to Five and How to Survive Christmas provide similarly sensible (and slightly frivolous) advice on the obvious topics.
Class is hilarious (and not as dated as you might think), and Turn Right at the Spotted Dog is one of my all-time new comfort classics. Totally worth it just for the bit where she meets Dirty Den