Fans of Fielding's famed heroine Bridget Jones will warm to Rosie Richardson, a similarly hapless single gal, who flees to an African refugee camp to escape a failed romance and a shallow existence as a London literary publicist. Four years later, confronting a new influx of starving refugees, Rosie returns to London to rally her old celebrity pals to take part in a televised appeal. The result is a searing, romantic, poignant and at times hilarious satire of the most ludicrous elements of the Western media (a model visiting the camp is offered food by the refugees) highlighted against a dark backdrop of Third World hunger.
In such a dismal setting, the laughs in this novel (first published in the U.K. in 1994) come from its vivid, cleverly drawn cast of characters, from sulky London actors with names like Vicky Spankie to a witty camp crew in Africa. Anchoring the romp is Rosie, a protagonist as likable and vulnerable as that Jones girl—though refreshingly less obsessed with dieting and Chardonnay. (Viking, $24.95)