From the white heat of Miami to the implants of LA, the glittering waters of the Caribbean to the deserts of Arabia, Olivia Joules pits herself against the forces of terror armed only with a hatpin, razor sharp wits and a very special underwired bra. How could a girl not be drawn to the alluring, powerful Pierre Ferramo, with his hooded eyes, impeccable taste, unimaginable wealth, exotic homes across the globe and a rather dubious French accent? But is it possible that Ferramo is actually a major terrorist, bent on the western world’s destruction. Or, is it all just a product of Olivia Joules’s overactive imagination. Join Olivia in her heart-stopping and hilarious quest to save the world in this witty, contemporary and utterly unputdownable thriller.

‘Olivia Joules and the Over-Active Imagination’ is a stand-alone novel from ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding.

I have read and enjoyed both Bridget Jones books and Helen Fielding’s previous novel, ‘Cause Celeb’. However, I was a little reticent about reading this as I thought that after her success with Bridget Jones, Fielding would continue in the same vein but would find it hard to recreate another character as individual and captivating as Bridget. I was pleasantly surprised; this turned out to be very enjoyable and original.
Now I’m not claiming that the character of Olivia Joules is by any means as lovable as Bridget Jones, but you can relate to her to a certain extent. The novel centres around her adventures as a journalist desperate to be taken seriously but, with a reputation of letting her imagination getting the better of her, she is stuck writing articles on face creams. When she spots Osama Bin Laden at a party in Los Angeles she knows that this is her big chance and she won’t rest until she proves herself right. What the reader needs to work out is whether she is in fact just being paranoid or whether there could in fact be some truth behind her claims.

What starts off as a run-of-the-mill article soon leads her into a huge quest encompassing Miami, LA, the Caribbean and Arabia, enlisting the help of the secret services, being invited to the Oscars, and trying out as any spy gadgets as she can get her hands on!

It’s quite interesting to read what is essentially a girlie spy novel. It contains some hilarious moments as well as some very exciting edge-of-your-seat type stuff with plenty of twists and turns. I think that Fielding’s characters are so successful because she writes them with such conviction that you understand them and their actions completely, even though they may do some stupid things and end up in ludicrous situations.

I don’t think that Helen Fielding has let herself down with this novel. It’s more a case that Bridget Jones was such a gem of a character that whatever came after would never quite live up to expectations. As long as you can block Bridget from your mind before you begin to read this you should really enjoy it!

4 stars