I am looking forward to this year, despite having begun it with a sprained ankle. I have spent the last two days (since ‘the accident’) laid up on the sofa with Jilly Cooper’s latest novel ‘Jump!’. Being horse mad, I absolutely adored it – that is, once I had got to know all of the characters in the book. Jilly Cooper doesn’t go with the general advice to limit characters to make them manageable i.e. only one best friend. Instead, she takes the ‘true to life’ approach when casting characters and so our heroine has about fifteen friends, a collection of horrible family members and a whole load of acquaintances who live in the small village of Willowwood. Jilly Cooper also gives two fingers to the notion of ’rounded’ characters. Many of hers are demons or angels (with only a few in between). Nevertheless I adored this book – the champagne flows as does red wine and whisky. I now have a strong urge to get tipsy at the races or at least pat a few noses in my local stable. Thanks Jilly. You made my Christmas holidays!