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Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Series: Fielding, Helen
  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (June 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 2702896235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670033331
  • ASIN: 0670033332
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,491,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics uniformly admire Fielding’s wit; reviews for Olivia Joules acknowledge that her punch lines uncoil with deft precision and real insight. Some praise her for branching out of the more standard chick-lit genre she helped launch with Bridget Jones to create the kicky, modern spy-girl, Olivia (or, as the Los Angeles Times calls her, “Janey Bond”). No one, however, thinks Olivia Joules’ bin Laden plot line is funny. Several writers complain that mentions of al Qaeda yank the reader out of the story back into reality, almost as if someone had inserted snuff footage into Bambi. The third-person voice distances the reader as well. Fielding can find solace, though, in knowing that most regard this as a misstep and are eager to see what her imagination concocts next.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

This book was so much fun to read!
Overactive Reader
"No one is thinking about you. They're thinking about themselves, just like you.") In fact, I think they made the book for me.
D. K. Stokes
The characters are not developed, and the plot was not cohesive.
DeaZ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Lesley West on June 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I adored the Bridget Jones diaries, which I think are among the cleverest of the genre, so it was with great anticipation that I picked up Helen Fielding's latest effort. I was disappointed.
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.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By aschie30 on July 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Olivia Joules, a spy in the making, varies from Helen Fielding's other literary counterpart, Bridget Jones, in that Olivia is gorgeous, reasonably confident and capable whereas Bridget was unsure, average-looking and a bumbler, EXCEPT, like Bridget, Olivia has an overactive imagination.

Olivia Joules is primarily a modern spy thriller, conscious of the post-9/11 era. In the beginning, we meet journalist Olivia after she's been demoted by her pompous boss (a recurring character in Fielding's books) to covering launches of facial creams. She is assigned to a launch in South Beach.

Here is where the book gets fun. She whisks off to South Beach, where she meets a dashing gentlemen, then to Catalina Island, then Honduras, and, before you know it, you're in the midst of escapist beach reading where you can feel the sun and see the blue-green water. Of course, in the end, our hero Olivia's overactive imagination is validated and saves the day.

This book is light; it's meant to be so. Fielding can write this type of lit and she is truly humorous. I think the only criteria for a book like this is "was it fun?" For me, yes.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lisa on October 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I had heard bad things about this book but I loved it - let's add Olivia Joules to the list of great iconic female leads. Up there with Bridget Jones (obviously), Jane Eyre, Catherine Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights), Isadora Peabody (The Charm School) and my other new star Elsie Roundbottom (You Are Here)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Melissa C Hall on August 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
But I am not here to add to it. This book is fluff, but it is my kind of fluff. I was not all that fond of Bridget Jones, I found her whiny. Perhaps this is why I like Olivia, she is a Bridget who actually has managed to keep her resolutions and transform her outer self. Her inner self might still be a bit of a mess, but her confidence makes up for it.

This spy story does involve actual threats, but that is true to the tradition of spy stories, when Ian Fleming was writing Russians was just as scary as middle-eastern terrorists are now. A good spy story should create a hero(ine) that can make you feel safer in the face of a real threat. Olivia is not quite as reassuring as the ultra-competent James Bond, but her ability to not panic and remain curious even in difficult situations is a saving grace.

On another level this novel is a Jack tale, and Olivia's bumbling success follows that pattern. She charges in and get over her head and somehow comes out the better for it.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Marie on May 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
I think the reason some people do not like this book is because they are expecting Bridget Jones. While the main character, Olivia, is somewhat similar to Bridget, she is a totally different character and this books reads a lot differenly than the Bridget Jones series. I believe this misconception that this book is along the same lines is why some people did not like the book. I admit the book was slow at the beginning, but once I got into it, I could not put it down and I was laughing out loud right until the end. The plot was very unique and combined serious issues with a daring female spy. Good read!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Salvetti on July 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Wow, seems like people either loved it or hated it....well...I LOVED THIS BOOK. I flew through it in three days...couldn't put it down! It has parts that are just hilarious, it is suspenseful and I really didn't expect a lot of what happened. Although, I didn't try to analyze it too much either. It is simply a fun read. If you like the show Alias, you will love this. I have loved all of Helen Feildings books and will continue to buy them...in hardcover at that! There is more to be said about this book, but not without giving too much away. And I agree, I hate that.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Gansky on September 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I've read all of Helen Fielding's books (though I really must admit--I couldn't make it through Cause Celeb, *yawn*). After reading the first chapter of Olivia, I was worried it would be another failed attempt from Fielding. But then things started looking up.

Olivia won me over. I like to think of her as a Bridget Jones meets Sydney Bristow. I'm a big fan of the tv series Alias, and it was sort of like having Bridget thrown into a spy role, which led to many funny moments.

I ended up thoroughly enjoying the book, and didn't put it down all day! Very pleased with the ending as well. Three cheers, Fielding has done it again!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Casselman on June 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The only reason I finished this book is because I paid full price for it. I've enjoyed Helen Fielding in the past, but this book made me want to gnaw off my limbs. The characters are thin and insipid. The plot ridiculous in the extreme. I read the positive reviews posted here and wondered if they read a different book. Perhaps someone changed the cover on me? If you go in for the clumsy, ridiculous and poorly written, this book is for you.
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