Athena in Progress

Olivia Joules & The Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding

Olivia Joules & The Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding

Olivia Joules is a freelance journalist for the Sunday Times. Her editor has asked her to cover a fabulous Hollywood makeup line launch party. While there, she catches the eye of the sexy Pierre Feramo, who may or may not be an Al-Qaeda terrorist.

What follows is her adventures around the world. She pursues hunches and leads on the pretense of working when she wants to know more about Feramo.

MI6 eventually recruits her for a mission of utmost importance. Fielding presented her adventures very much like a modern-day James Bond. It’s not quite as exciting as saying something Sydney Bristow would’ve found herself in, but I shall leave it at that.

Olivia is a more fully functioning human being, having grown up very young due to a family tragedy – unlike Bridget Jones, Ms. Fielding’s most famous heroine.

The latter seemed to make stumbling through her thirties endearing.

book cover for Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination

Olivia was not unlikable but more mature than the featherhead Bridget. She spoke many languages and could get herself out of messes without freaking out too much.

Olivia took control of what was otherwise a boring life set for her at birth and made herself over, beginning with her name. That’s right; Olivia Joules isn’t even her real name, and again, I shall leave it at that.

I almost felt like something was missing throughout the story. Like Fielding could’ve fleshed out Olivia a little more.

Or perhaps it’s because even without formal spook training, Olivia knew what she was doing, which probably added to my confusion about the character. I find that very hard to believe she knew what she was doing, even though Ms. Fielding seeded in how the Olivia alias came to be.

She was well-traveled for a young woman, street-smart, and always had her wits about her, even when her internal voice was freaking out about the situation at hand at that moment. Somehow, she was never shot at or grievously injured, considering the danger she consistently put herself through on purpose.

Several times, I asked, “Olivia, seriously, quit pursuing Feramo! You’re going to get yourself killed!”

But she had some guardians on this adventure who ensured nothing harmed her.

The ending is Hollywood, including the romance with the smokin’ hot CIA agent, Morton C.

I enjoyed the book; it was a welcome diversion from reality. Ms. Fielding wrote it intending to make light of the September 11th attacks, but not wrongly.

Why couldn’t a woman be able to get in the fray, kick some ass in her non-threatening way, and save the world?

That is essentially the heart of Olivia Joules: women can do everything a man can, but better.

Published by Guilliean Pacheco

Guilliean Pacheco (she/her) is a Filipino-American full-stack writer by day and raconteuse by night. She earned her M.F.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco and is an Anaphora Arts poetry fellow. She's also a member of AIR, ACES, IWW FJU, and Uproot. She’s a misplaced California girl who lives in Las Vegas normally, if one could call living there normal, on Southern Paiute land. Virgo sun, Aquarius moon, Libra rising.

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