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4.4 out of 5 stars412
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 25 February 2014
Very rare that I read a book. Even rarer that I read a book within a week. Bonkers was read in about four days.

It's rather marvellous. I had read some not particularly complimentary reviews on ITunes - just niggly things like people saying that Dear Fatty(Dawn French's book) was better and to read that instead, or that the book sounded like Jennifer showing off about her famous friends.

Two points there to pick up on.

1) French and Saunders are in fact two individuals, not one person. So to recommend people read someone else's autobiography instead is silly. This isn't meant to be Dear Fatty, this is meant to be Bonkers, the fact that these two people have closely linked lives is by the by. I wanted to read about Jennifer Saunders life, so I read this book. As those Americans would add - period.

2) People like to read about famous people's lives because they include other famous people. If Ms Saunders spent this book telling us about Barbara from behind the counter in Spar, and John from the pub's brother we would be bored. So she throws in a few Goldie Hawns and Ruper Everetts. If ever I write my autobiography, it will include the time Stevie Nicks waved at me. Yes I will.

Bonkers is funny, warm and very human, even with a fancy cocktail in its hand on some millionaire's yacht. And next time I watch French & Saunders Series 1-6 Box Set (6 discs) [DVD], Absolutely Fabulous - Absolutely Everything Box Set [DVD] [1992]or Jam and Jerusalem - Series 1-3 [DVD], I'll feel as though I know a little bit more about the blood, sweat and tears that went into those great shows.

Thumbs up gel.
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on 12 October 2013
as a big fan of Jennifer Saunders I was very excited to read this book, I can honestly say i was not disappointed. The unique 'go of on a ramble in the middle of a chapter' structure ensured that you were never bored by long stories of great grandparents and first boyfriends. The book was just as funny as Jen herself and I read the book in her voice. It was personal but no too personal that it began to feel uncomfortable. The details on how she got into comedy, how she and Adrian Edmondson got together, the beginning of Ab Fab and her fantastic friendships with Dawn French and Joanna Lumley were an insightful view into her fantastic life. Then obviously there was the cancer. She tackled this subject well. She wrote it in an emotional light but not in a way that would drag down the mood of the whole book. She made people aware of what she had been through but you could tell she was not searching for any sympathy, which in a way made it all the most touching. I would recommend this book 100%
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on 3 September 2014
Just like Jennifer herself, this book is likeable, funny, warm & honest. She modestly admits that she's not much of a bookworm herself... but this story of her life takes the reader on a whimsical & fun-filled journey where she speaks to you just like a friend who's come round for tea.

Jen admits she's had a good life thus-far (& there are certainly no skeletons in her closet waiting to jump out!), as she takes us through her happy childhood memories, her college years, & the fascinating story of how she & comedy partner Dawn French met & forged their relationship.

French & Saunders (or The Menopause Sisters, as they were originally known!) emerged on the scene at a key time, becoming Britain's first-ever high-profile female comedy double-act. As you would imagine, the journey was predictably bumpy to start with - but they turned out to be real role-models for others to follow, & true comedy pioneers.
We chart Jen's career here from fledging stand-up, Comic-stripper, sit-com star, film actress & Ab-Fabber... not to mention of course her surprising horse-riding skills!

She gives one of the most cheery accounts of her time as a cancer patient here I've ever read, always remaining positive & realistic, emerging victorious on the other side in a typically modest account of one of her biggest life challenges.

This is great book for anyone who's a fan of Saunders (& French), & it's lovely to read about her family life, her passions, & her refreshing disdain of the tiresome cult of 'celebrity'.
All in all, an excellent autobiography for anyone who's interested in the life of Jen, & one that leaves the reader ultimately feeling they've really got to know her & what makes her such a likeable figure.
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on 25 November 2013
I loved Bonkers ! How refreshingly different to have an autobiography that tells of a happy childhood and not one of misery. I bought Bonkers on cd and listened to it in the car making a normally long boring journey a pleasure. From childhood to student life to meeting Dawn French and their early life in comedy through to the success of French and Saunders, Ab Fab etc., etc. Absolutely recommend Bonkers and, having also listened to Dear Fatty, how interesting that Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders have incredibly similar voices.
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on 27 January 2014
This is a really entertaining read and is full of interesting facts and stories for people who grew up with F&S then AbFab. It also confirmed the impression I had of Jennifer Saunders that she's a lovely person who simply likes making people laugh. She also comes across as very down-to-earth and humble about her talents. A must for any fan.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 30 October 2013
Jennifer Saunders's autobiography is an honest and candid account of her life whilst still retaining her privacy. Her experiences, relationships and feelings are revealed with her characteristic stamp of humour. We learn of her happy, chirpy childhood with her family often moving due to her father's career in the R.A.F. Her meeting with long-time friend and colleague, Dawn French, happened at Drama school. Their mutual love of the eccentricity of life and comedy forged a long-term association in writing and performing. The hugely successful 'Absolutely Fabulous' series wit Joanna Lumley is obviously important, bringing global fame and even more recognition of her talents. Her meeting and marriage to Ade Edmondson is included as a key point in her life's development.

Added interest is provided with her extensive travel and her celebrity friends, of whom there are many. Jennifer gives a frank account of her dealing with the diagnosis and extensive treatment of her cancer, taking it almost as a matter of life she has to face and overcome. Fortunately she does. Ms Saunders has no order of time in her writing. The time flits to and fro but does not detract from the story. This is full of Jennifer Saunders brand of humour, very funny and laugh aloud moments with many anecdotes. This is an amusing and revealing account of the author's life, yet at the end her diplomacy restricts how much of the real Jennifer Saunders she has kept to herself. Nevertheless, a most entertaining and enjoyable read.
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on 27 January 2014
So funny when reading on a flight to Singapore couldn't help laughing out loud...... other the passengers where not amused....lol
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on 11 October 2013
Loved the book thought it was personal but without exposing any intimacy so we now know how ms Saunders mind works but not which side of the bed she sleeps on.
As a huge fan I giggled through the book in a day.
It is to be hoped perhaps a novel will follow however anyone who reads this and has read bonkers will know it may be a long wait. Hah!
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on 26 November 2013
Jennifer states that she thinks the public responds to her genuine friendship with Dawn French and she's right. I'm similar age and to me they both seem like my mates who have made it in comedy, but are still the same as they used to be. This book shares quite a lot ( I was pleased to see the photos but felt a bit nosy) and shows she's as normal as you would hope. F and S speak for me where younger comedy doesn't; it's a bit sad not to have a voice anymore. I still vote and pay lots of taxes BBC, bring them back and for goodness sake at least sell Jam and Jerusalem to comedy gold.
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on 11 January 2016
A quick google search reveals 'bonkers' means mad, crazy, mentally unbalanced, drunk, bananas, wild - you get the drift. Which this book isn't. Very misleading title. Jennifer Saunders doesn't come across as 'bonkers' at all, not a jot, but someone blessed with a finely tuned sense of humour who just happened to find her equally funny soul sister Dawn French, and the rest is history. Two totally different women, who had this really quite extraordinary ability to create some of the funniest television ever. She is actually quite ordinary and normal really, which is what makes this memoir so accessible and enjoyable.

I have always wondered if Jennifer is the quieter of the two, the more introverted, and reading this memoir does confirm this. It is almost as if she fell into the comedy life, and even though she doesn't try to fight it, she does not come across as wanting to have her name in lights. It just all seems to have sort of happened. She writes of her very ordinary childhood, her mediocre school years, going to teachers' college because there was nothing else. It was her ongoing friendship with Dawn French, and the two of them simply being in the right place at the right time.

Through her days doing live comedy with Dawn, the beginning and hilarious success of French and Sanders, the creation of Absolutely Fabulous when she really was thrust into the public limelight, the days of being a movie star with Shrek, moving into script writing - she regales us with it all . Plus of course her personal life - marriage, children, and what was a surprise, her breast cancer. Her writing hardly reaches great literary heights, there aren't huge amounts of self analysis going on except perhaps for her stint in India with Goldie Hawn. Everything is kept light and easy, and if nothing else, Jennifer gives us more of an insight into the world of how TV comedy is made. Entertaining and fun. Definitely not 'bonkers'.
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