cover image Players


Jilly Cooper. Ballantine Books, $23 (484pp) ISBN 978-0-345-35937-7

Cooper's ( Riders ) talky, wry novel about dirty doings in the British broadcasting industry is laced with healthy doses of sophisticated, stinging irony. In the best tradition of comedy, her characters are defined with a deft, light touch and, with devastatingly accurate insight, either as well-meaning but flawed or as vain and self-centered. The action, however, is anything but simple. The novel's sweep is so large and cast of characters so broad that Cooper, like 19th century British novelists, provides an alphabetical who's who at the front. And like her literary predecessors, Cooper's clear implication is that the depicted state of affairs--here the infighting over television franchises-- is a microcosm of human foibles. Witty, biting and complex, this is a wicked and intelligent page-turner. (Apr.)