#SheReviews The Other Bridget By Rachael Johns

March 27, 2024

The beautiful and timeless existence of love can surely never be doubted. Even a mere slither of love can cast undiluted and dazzling light onto an otherwise murkily dreary day. Further, romantic love illuminates millions of lives throughout the world every day.

As Emily Bronte wrote so divinely and intrinsically powerfully of romantic love in the ethereally sublime novel, Wuthering Heights, published in 1847, “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same”.

The vagaries, misfires and soaring heights of romantic love are exquisitely and captivatingly told to the reader in stellar Australian author, Rachael Johns, latest brilliant romance novel (a romcom), The Other Bridget.

Our feisty and (?) naively optimistic, as far as true love is concerned, heroine and chief protagonist Bridget Jones (named after the character in Helen Fieldings book, Bridget Jones’s Diary – the movie was released when our Bridget was five years old) is certainly one of life’s ‘good people’.

Residing in a house that is one half of duplex accomodation, not far from the beach, in the sublimely picturesque port city of Fremantle in Western Australia (a part of the metropolitan area of Perth), Bridget adores her job as a librarian at Fremantle Library. Good fortune seems to be evident in much of Bridget’s life. She grew up on an expansive cattle station in the Pilbara with her parents and three brothers, and grew up loving to read the romance novels that belonged to her mother. She inherited her house from her grandparents, and at the age of twenty-seven is mortgage free. Fremantle Library is close to where Bridget lives, so Bridget is able to zip home every lunch hour and feed her beloved heroic dog, John Brown (JB). Bridget has a best friend, Fred (female) who she works with at the library, as well as friends who also work with Bridget at the library. These work friends include the driven Persephone (middle-aged and married with two small children and a self-confessed “witch”), the chirpy Xavier (whose partner is Rory) and the wise and head librarian, Janine (nearing retirement age).

Unfortunately for Bridget (or Bee as her friends call her), the one area in her life that has proven to be her Achilles heel and veritable undoing is her romantic love life.  Bridget has seemed to have a talent for dating people who are less than worthy of her. When Bridget discovers that her latest love, Kieran (who she met on a dating app), is actually very much married, she is crestfallen.

Vowing to give up on dating apps, Bridget declares to her library ‘besties’ that she will “need to stop trying so hard. I need to go about my everyday life and trust that Fate will work her magic for me….”.

A good-looking and swoon-worthy candidate to capture Bridget’s heart is the visually stunning Italian barista, Fabio, at Bridget’s local cafe, the Grouchy Sailor (which is located nearby to Bridget’s house and the library). Bridget finds Fabio’s coffee ‘to die for’, as do the library gang of workers.

Bridget reflects to herself, “The coffee was great before he arrived but now it’s out of this world”.

Fabio shamelessly flirts with Bridget, calling her “bella” (beautiful). Bridget thinks to herself  of her feelings for Fabio “My crush is akin to the kind of infatuation teenage girls have for members of boy bands. I know it’s never going to go anywhere. Why would someone as hot and charismatic as him look twice at someone as average as me?”

When Fabio asks Bridget out on a date, she joyfully and (?) smugly feels like all her Christmases have come at once. Fabio is her dream man, and after she has the best first date with him ever, she finds herself deeply falling for him.

Life is full of mountainous highs and crevice-like lows, as Bridget discovers when she and her surly new next-door-neighbour, Doctor Michael Sullivan (Sully), get off to a fraughtly bad start, after Bridget drunkenly and mistakenly tries to get into his house one night.

With Sully playing his awfully loud and tuneless bagpipes, playing basketball by Bridget’s house and mowing the lawn early on a weekend, Bridget definitely finds Sully to be a not-so-great neighbour. Additionally, Sully is perpetually “grumpy” when Bridget and he ever do talk to eachother.

Bridget’s “superpower”, which she believes she has in spades and which she has proven to herself and others that she has, is to match books with people. And she is always spot on. So she suggests books for Fabio and even the hostile Sully to read. Will she inspire them to love books as much as she does?

When Laura (mother to fifteen year old Lola) comes in to the library wanting a book to read, Bridget is only too happy to recommend one for Laura and also Lola. Lola has been suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and needs her mind taken off medical issues such as chemotherapy. As Bridget says to Laura when she comes back to the library later, and gives Bridget feedback on her book suggestions (Laura and Lola loved the books), Bridget stoically informs Laura that “It’s practically a sin to waste time vacuuming and ironing when there are so many good books in the world”.

Will Bridget ever get the ‘happy ever after’ that she has always longed for?

Will Fabio be the knight-in-shining armour that Bridget wants him to be?

Will Bridget and Sully ever call a “truce”, or is Sully forever going to be a thorn in Bridget’s side?

What is the heartbreaking eating disorder that Bridget suffered with for so long as a teenager?

How does this impact her now?

What are Sully’s mental health issues? He and Bridget go to the same counsellor, Aisha. Bridget vehemently lambasts Sully to Aisha before Bridget finds out that they are both Aisha’s patients (Bridget has been seeing Aisha for close to five years).

Do Fabio and Sully ‘get’ Bridget’s book choices for them, or is there a snag?

Does Sully ever ‘soften’ and be at least a friend for Bridget?

Is it Fabio or Sully that may be the hero in Bridget’s life, after she has read of heroes so often in her romance novels that she regularly devours.

Rachael has written yet another superb romance novel that overflows with intelligence, wisdom, deep thought, insight and beauty.

Themes of romantic relationships, friendships, family relationships, the joy of reading, mental health and sickness are expertly explored throughout The Other Bridget’s pages.

Bravo Rachael! Once again you have knocked it out of the ballpark with another spectacular novel.

You will laugh, cry and find joy and happiness in the pages of this book. As well as being a romcom, whilst also covering some serious issues, The Other Bridget is a classy love letter to the joy and pleasure to be derived from reading.

I loved this book! Put me down to read whatever Rachael writes next please!

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