Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bonkers: My Life in Laughs” as Want to Read:
Bonkers: My Life in Laughs
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bonkers: My Life in Laughs

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  4,041 ratings  ·  361 reviews
Jennifer Saunders' comic creations have brought joy to millions. From Comic Strip to Comic Relief, from Bolly-swilling Edina in Ab Fab to her takes on Madonna or Mamma Mia, her characters are household names.

But it's Jennifer herself who has a place in all our hearts. This is her funny, moving and frankly bonkers memoir, filled with laughter, friends and occasional heartac
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 10th 2013 by Viking (first published January 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bonkers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bonkers

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,041 ratings  ·  361 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Bonkers: My Life in Laughs
Jason Koivu
Jan 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was like taking a moneyshot facial of closure for me and I loved it! Perhaps I should explain?

For years, nay, decades now I've been a fan of Jennifer Saunders, her hit show Absolutely Fabulous...


...and the myriad of satellite projects revolving about her, especially the work she did with her comedy partner Dawn French:


Before that I was a fan of the '80s British tv series The Young Ones...


...and when I realized both women had appeared in episodes of that show I wanted to know how that came a
For those unfamiliar with Jennifer Saunders, she is a comedy legend. Starting off as one half of the iconic duo of French and Saunders (with fellow hilarious woman, Dawn French), she went on to create the equally as iconic fictional duo of Patsy and Eddy in the series Absolutely Fabulous. To this day, Saunders is still working with French and producing comedy skits and only last year the movie of AbFab came out. These are by far what she is most famous for but that's not even mentioning all the ...more
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
The blurb says, "Bonkers: My Life in Laughs by Jennifer Saunders - the hilarious, touching life story of the iconic comedian and national treasure Jennifer Saunders' comic creations have brought joy to millions. From Comic Strip to Comic Relief, from Bolly-swilling Edina in Ab Fab to her takes on Madonna or Mamma Mia"

I supposed if you work for the publishing company you aren't going to write a blurb that says anything less. But, for me at least, the book was neither hilarious nor touching. It w
Jan 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Prior to reading this, I had no particular feeling about Jennifer Saunders. I vaguely remembered thinking she was quite funny in French & Saunders years ago, but that was about it.
Unfortunately for Saunders, her book is by turns dull, annoying, insipid, and incoherent. She has an irritatin' habit of droppin' the letter "g", and often she seems to be writin' fer yer in her best pirate accent fer no particular reason.
This book also be stuffed with faxes from and to some of her famous pals, and I'm
Jennifer Saunders is one of those people who did not want to stand out in a crowd, but did, just because life was a series of accidents in which everything just fell into place for her. She never wanted to display any character or personality...(in public interviews, red carpets, you name it)

I'm not sure why I read this book. Probably because curiosity tend to kill the cat, and it was just a perfect opportunity to push my head into a dark hole and see what's in there. I did not know who Jennifer
Gemma ♕ antari.and.the.books
Very enjoyable listen! So glad I chose to read it via audible because Jennifer Saunders’ narration really does bring this book to life. There is so much in this book I didn’t know but my favourite parts were when she was taking about her friendships, especially those with Dawn French and Joanna Lumley. Wonderful stories all round. Jennifer Saunders is so very relatable!
V. Briceland
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Jennifer Saunders, half of the French and Saunders comedy team and creator of the Absolutely Fabulous TV series, is a deeply private person with a vast English reserve. Yes, it's difficult to believe that the woman who spent most of her Ab Fab screen time outrageously drunk and arse-over-knickers is truly shy to the point she's virtually unable to discuss her personal life in an autobiography—which by its very nature is a deeply personal document. Her reticence and hesitation to delve too deeply ...more
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Laura, Carey, Wanda, Jema et al
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the week:
Award winning comedian Jennifer Saunders reads her funny, honest and touching memoir.

Jennifer Saunders has been making us laugh for three decades and is best known for the long running sketch show French and Saunders which she co-wrote and starred in with her comedy partner, Dawn French. Later she created the worldwide hit series Absolutely Fabulous in which she also played champagne swilling, Edina Monsoon. She has won three BAFTAs (including the Bafta Fellow
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
June has been a shit month for me. First, on June 9th, my comic hero Rik Mayall passed away. Then, two days later, my Nan, so I was in need of some serious laughs to pull me from the depths of despair.
I started watching The Young Ones again, and then mum bought me this book in keeping with the theme. Thanks mum.
This was a blast! I've always liked Jennifer Saunders but knew little about her away from Ab Fab and her on-screen persona. I was excited to discover only earlier this year that she is m
Oct 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Not bonkers, not many laughs, quite disappointing how dull this was. Very much a 'quick, get it out in time for Christmas' light fluffy celebrity book that seem to appear every year now.
Joey Woolfardis
Jennifer Saunders is a British Comedienne, actress, writer, west-end show creator and general National Treasure. She's also survived cancer.

Let's cut to the chase: this is exactly what an auto-biography should be like. I will admit that I only read sports or comedian bios simply because I am in love with athletes and comedians will always write something funny. It's in their bones, the pun is 100% intended.
They should also not be taken too seriously. Piling on 300 pages of serious happ'nings in
Katy Noyes
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

These are my comments on a Waterstones review copy)

I'm not a big biography reader, but was really interested to read this, about a comedienne I admire.

Jennifer Saunders discusses chapters of her life with the readers, from early life to recent goings-on. It is pretty episodic though. I did feel a lot was missing at times. We got to see how she and Dawn French met, how they developed their comedy act, even that Lenny Henry sat in on some of their early shows. Then suddenly - Dawn and L
Nicola Mcfall
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I've been a fan of Jennifer Saunders since I was a child so I was both shocked (I know she tends to be quite private) and delighted when I discovered that she had written an autobiography. I have to admit that I went into the book with high expectations that I quickly discovered probably were not going to be met. All aspects of her life seem to have been touched upon but many of them seem to be mentioned quickly, brushed under the carpet while she hastily moves on. Two of my favourite shows she ...more
Hayley Sherman
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was aware when reading this that Jennifer Saunders had quite a guarded approach to writing it, or rather opening up her life completely and publicly, and was perhaps unwilling to write a warts and all biography. The result is essentially another tier of French and Saunders/Absolutely Fabulous-style comedy rather than a surface-scratcher, looking back at her life and snatching those bits that are most likely to raise a giggle. It is even structural written in a sitcom-esque, episodic style, but ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Picked this book up primarily so I could read without using much of my brain, and it served its purpose well. I already knew a fair bit about her life, so this was just filling in gaps. Some funny anecdotes... probably more unfunny ones... but still worthwhile. I enjoyed her couple of chapters on her cancer scare, a nice human touch, and I could imagine myself having similar responses in a similar situation... likewise I enjoyed reading about the general procrastinating elements of her personali ...more
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Having enjoyed French and Saunders I found this disappointing. The first two thirds of the book are superficial with a lazy style of writing and accounts of events and faxes that may well have been hilarious at the time but fall flat when read in the cold light of day. Jennifer, of course, has the right to keep her life as private as she likes but once she decided to write an autobiography I feel she could have made more effort. However the last third of the book was much more meaningful and int ...more
Ellie Lear
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Plainly and simply, I love this woman and I love this book. Not very helpful to those of you who like to read the reviews before venturing into the pages of a new book so I will also tell you that it is a great read. It might not be the complete 'tell-all' some people enjoy but it is funny and heart-warming and everything I'd hoped for when I bought it. Although it is a book about herself she is humble, and I think everyone can learn lessons from the things she says - especially not taking your ...more
May 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book made me so sad, as a huge fan of Jennifer Saunders and the Comic Strip gang, I did not laugh once. Not even a smirk, or a snort of air out my nose. It felt like a list of 'things that happened' which I guess could be said about any biography, but there didn't seem to be any storytelling or weaving in this to tell me anything I couldn't look up as a matter of facts.
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
You've probably heard of Jennifer Saunders. The British comedienne's hits vary from British TV show hit French and Saunders to worldwide sensation Absolutely Fabulous (which spawned a French film remake and recognition everywhere for Saunders). I may sound like Saunders' over-enthusiastic PA before a press conference, but no, I'm just an adoring fan. That's why I picked it up.

But for someone who's had such a successful, long career, you'd expect their memoirs to be 500, 600 pages long, not just
Darcy Gregg
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've been a fan of Jennifer Saunders for a while, all the way back to Girls on top and Comic Strip. After reading this book I realize I was really lucky to have been a teenager in the 80's and appreciated this new brand of comedy, which I still love to this day. I feel these days comedians and comedy shows go to extreme lengths to get a laugh. To get this inside view as to how it all happened was a gift. She tells enough that we get to know her but she still keeps a lot private, which really is ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
What is not to love about Jennifer Saunders?! Her writin' and her jokin' are fab, and the new term she taught me that will be in my head forevermore is "The Mis Mem", as in, Misery Memoir. Her's is not, as she states right at the start, a Mis Mem.

Saunders is a very down to earth person who also happens to be very funny and hang out with equally funny people (Dawn French, Joanna Lumley, etc) it was such a pleasure to read and be amused and occasionally laugh out loud. And also to thereafter chec
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book almost as much as I love Jennifer Saunders.

I've read that she works hard to keep her private life private. I respect that, and it's actually one of the reasons I like her so much. So I was excited that she chose to write an autobiography. She did not disappoint, folks. She very graciously shares a great deal of herself in this book.

She writes like she talks, and I would "hear" the words in her voice and inflections. Her humor is clever, brilliant, and self-deprecating.

I loved
Oct 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Would have given this 4.5 stars; didn't want to give it five because I didn't love it as much as the books I have given five to. I was always going to like this; I have been mildy obsessed with her work, particularly Ab Fab for years.
It doesn't get too personal, which is fine. It's hilarious and checks the main boxes: I particularly liked reading about things which she later turned into sketches (the horrible headteacher I recognised immediately).
Ella Rowan
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks-read
An entertaining autobiography as read by Saunders herself. I am a big fan and therefore this was never going to be a disappointment for me and thus would also recommend :) Also, if you can, definitely listen to the audiobook version, Jennifer's voice adds a whole new dynamic and you sort of feel like you're listening to a dear old friend!
Barbara Grout
Having read Dawn French's book and being disappointed that it didn't cover more about the French/Saunders partnership I was pleased that Jennifer's book did. However by the time I had finished reading it I felt like I didn't really like her very much. Not sure exactly why, but I did. I do love her work though.
Sarah Benamer
Jan 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
It's hard to review a book like this without in some ways commenting on the person. Whilst you get a sense of Jennifer Saunders intelligence and enormous capacity for intimacy and relationships her writing lacks the depth I had hoped for.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Perfect for a caravan holiday read when you have no internet access and you’ve borrowed it from the local library so it’s free. Interesting how regular editing standards don’t apply when it comes to celeb memoirs.
The word “random” springs to mind
Kim Dewdney
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well written and more honest than most biographies. A good buy for my sister for Christmas - she's 50 - and familiar with French & Saunders and Ab Fab. ...more
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
enjoyed this down to earth and honest bio and had myself laughing at times
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Dear Fatty
  • Absolutely
  • Spectacles
  • The Life and Loves of a He Devil
  • Is It Just Me?
  • The Sound of Laughter
  • Look Who It Is!: My Story
  • That's Another Story: The Autobiography
  • My Animals and Other Family
  • And Furthermore
  • Between the Stops: The View of My Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus
  • Happy
  • Oh Dear Silvia
  • A Tiny Bit Marvellous
  • The Happy Hoofer
  • How to be Champion
  • Peggy and Me
  • Mack the Life: The Autobiography
See similar books…
Jennifer Jane Saunders is a BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning English comedienne, screenwriter and actress.

She first came into widespread attention in the 1980s and the early 1990s when she became a member of The Comic Strip after graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama. Along with her comedy partner Dawn French, she proceeded to write and star in their eponymous sketch show, French & Sa

Related Articles

Anne Lamott, the beloved writer of memoirs including Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, once said, “You own everything that happened to you....
58 likes · 22 comments
“I do like a bit of flyin'. Comedy flying is one of my favourite things. I think it rates up there with a neck brace for funniness.” 2 likes
“If I could go back and say one thing to my younger self it would be: YOU ARE NOT FAT.” 2 likes
More quotes…