Olivia Joules Hardcover – Jun 7 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Considering the number of writers who've tried, and generally failed, to do plummy Bridget Jones one better, it only makes sense that Fielding should take a vacation from the genre she spawned and seek (sort of) greener pastures. Her new inspiration? Think Ian Fleming. Fielding's ridiculous, delicious, wildly improbable plot goes something like this: freelance journalist Olivia Joules ("as in the unit of kinetic energy"), formerly Rachel Pixley (her whole family got run over when she was 14), gets bumped from the Sunday Times's international coverage down to the style pages thanks to the titular imagination (e.g., a story about a "cloud of giant, fanged locusts pancaking down on Ethiopia"). In between ducking twittering PR reps and airheaded blondes at a Miami face cream launch party, she uncovers what looks like an al-Qaeda plot, headed by a dreamy Osama bin Laden look-alike, who is either (1) a terrorist, (2) an international playboy, (3) a serial killer or (4) all of the above. Languid, mysterious Pierre Feramo returns Olivia's interest, and thus begins an around-the-world adventure that has plucky Olivia eventually recruited by MI6. In addition to the fun spy gear (e.g., Chloé shades fitted with a nerve-agent dagger) there are kidnappings, bomb plots and scuba-diving disasters. Olivia is slim, confident and accomplished; ostensibly, she's "painstakingly erased all womanly urges to question her shape, looks, role in life," etc. But she still has her bumbling Jonesian moments, and though she may not need a man, she'll get one in the end. What's wrong with the book: two-dimensional characters, dangling plot threads, the questionable taste of al-Qaeda bombings in an escapist, comic spy novel. What's right: girl-power punch, page-turning brio and a new heroine to root for.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
More than anything, freelance journalist Olivia Joules wants to write serious news stories, but because of her "vivid" imagination, Olivia instead finds herself relegated by her editors to the style section. While in Miami covering the launch of a new face cream, Olivia meets mysterious, sexy Pierre Feramo, the scientist responsible for developing the cream, and once again Olivia's imagination takes over. Is Pierre really a cosmetics-developing, movie-producing international playboy or could he be an al-Qaeda agent in disguise? Olivia, who knows a thing or two about changing one's identity, can't decide if her suspicions about Pierre are correct or merely a product of her fertile imagination. What is even worse is that if Olivia turns out to be right about Pierre, it means she might be falling in love with a terrorist! The author of the phenomenally popular Bridget Jones's Diary (1998) gifts readers with another endearing, irrepressible heroine, who, armed with her lists and survival kit, discovers in this deliciously fun novel that she has a natural talent for spying. Fielding's latest has all the ingredients of a good thriller--exotic locales, a resourceful heroine, intrigue, and a touch of sexy romance--but the book is also electric with Fielding's wry wit, and the combination is simply delightful. John Charles
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Sure the book delivers all that it promises - fast paced action in the beautiful parts of the world, potentially evil terrorists (or playboys?), big terrorist attacks, sub plots and red herrings. But somewhere along the way, I really began to find the book was quite hard going. I think I just stopped being interested in, or caring about our hero Olivia.
It is certainly mildly entertaining, and as a smallish book it is a quick read, great for lying on a beach somewhere. But I think it is also a great opportunity missed. Perhaps it will translate better into a movie - this is a screenplay waiting in the wings.
Now Fielding presents us with a new heroine, and on paper, it all looks great. A witty heroine as well as a fast-paced adventure plot? What could be cooler than a female spy? Sadly, I really felt this novel was just a hollow echo of Fielding's previous offerings. Sure Olivia is more composed and less of a spazz than Bridget, but Bridge made those qualities (or lack thereof) endearing. Bridget is not exactly someone we strive to be, but I still empathised with her more than Olivia, who just rang false and never seemed fully conceived to me. Somehow, Fielding has all the parts right, but the result is underwhelming.
I personally did not enjoy the terrorism plot, which seemed tawdry and like a poor attempt to cash in on an ever-present global threat. As well, I found the twists very predictable, and I'm not really one of those readers that thinks ahead... at least not if the story's good enough to utterly enrapture me. Again, I'm not sure how, but this book seems trite and was very unsatisfying.
I would recommend borrowing this from a friend or at least waiting for it in paperback. It's not worth a hardcover printing. I would have given this a 2.5 star rating if I could have.
This is a fun light read that will have you traveling the world with one space cadet of a heroine by the name of Olivia Joules. She is writer that has an incredible knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time all the while trying to get a story that will be front page worthy of the publication that she writes for. This book is really "James Bondesque" kind of read which is at times funny and witty and at other times outright ridiculous. In any event it's entertaining.
Again this is not Bridget Jones's Diary and to be fair to Ms. Fielding, one should allow this talented author room to explore other creative avenues. Although this effort has not made it onto my keeper shelf I would not be quick to throw it in the trash bin either. I've actually read the British version of this book and found the illustrations to be an added bonus and quite fun.
Chick lit now has another semi-worthy effort out for reader appreciation. It's not as good as some but it's defiantly not as bad as the others. Come to this book with an open mind and I think you may just be surprise. In any event the ending is explosive and...fun.
That said, I really think Helen Fielding needs to listen more closely to the Americans among whom she now lives, as few of her American characters consistently speak as Americans actually do; they read like Brits trying to sound American. I had more problems with this than with the other aspects that bothered some Amazon reviewers.
By the way, I loved Bridget Jones too, but not every Helen Fielding book is going to be just like BJ. And that's as it should be.
Most recent customer reviews
Although it meanders like a poster child for ADHD, it's clever and I think it's what she wanted it to be - not Bridget Jones. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Cee Ess
If you're looking for a fluffy, fun, brain candy book, this is it! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Read morePublished on Aug. 13 2006 by Shepherdess Extraordinaire
Although not as good as Bridget Jones, this book was still light and fun. It kept me reading right until the end, laughing out loud at the silliness of Olivia - a good charachter... Read morePublished on July 21 2005
I had high hopes for this book having enjoyed both Bridget Jones book. One word -- BORING. The character was super annoying and the plot very weak and absurd.Published on May 26 2005
Journalist Olivia Joules (formerly Rachel Pixley) believes that Osama Bin Laden is masquerading as a millionaire French playboy. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2004 by Ez
I can't tell you how glad I was that the kissing scenes were limited. I enjoyed reading this book. All of a sudden all sorts of thrillers are popping up. Read morePublished on July 19 2004
Compared to Bridget Jones, Olivia Joules fails to entertain and bewitch the reader on so many levels. Might not be a fair comparison, but still.... Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by Tatjana Krivokapic
I'm afraid I must disagree with other esteemed readers. I loved Olivia more than I loved Brigid--and I liked her quite a bit. Read morePublished on July 15 2004
I give this book four stars instead of three since I read it during the summer. As a Bridget Jones fanatic I was a little bummed out by this one. Read morePublished on July 15 2004 by Sarah_Aliza