Over the course of a year, Bridget Jones records the ups and frequently embarrassing downs of her life in her diary. The optimism of her New Year’s resolutions (e.g. ‘Go to gym three times a week not merely to buy sandwich’) quickly gives way to her regular chaos. She’s got a crush on her oily boss, her career is going nowhere, her mother has run off with a Portuguese tour guide, and poor Bridget can’t manage to reduce either her drinking, her smoking, or her thighs. And as a thirty-something single, she’s subjected to the patronisation of the Smug Marrieds and the matchmaking efforts of her family, who keep throwing her in the path of the stuffy Mark Darcy. But this year Bridget is determined to improve things. Too bad success isn’t really Bridget’s strong point.
I chose this for a bit of light relief after the intensity of Cross Stitch and it was perfect. Bridget’s tribulations are consistently funny and her genuine concern for her family and friends saved her from becoming another shallow chick-lit cliché. She’s utterly likeable even with her calorie obsession and general ineptitude, and along with her eccentric friends and relations keeps the book entertaining in spite of the lack of any real plot. At first the diary entry headers, with their repetitive details of alcohol, cigarettes and calories consumed, grated; but she quit writing them for a while and when she resumed, they contained enough other information to be amusing rather than annoying.
It’s impossible to read the book and not compare it to the movie. It was recognisable, but a lot of incidents in the film were invented or exaggerated. But the blue soup was there in print and made me feel a lot better about my own domestic abilities. Plus I got to spend 300-odd pages picturing Colin Firth as Mark Darcy :-)
There was one sizeable problem: references to British celebrities (I assume they are or were celebrities) that I’ve never heard of. Shakira Caine? Michael Howard? Douglas Hurd? Who are these people? The names meant absolutely nothing to me and were too numerous to be bothered Googling.