25 February 2007

Book Review: Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones’s Diary 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.

Rating: B+


Heather said...

I enjoyed the movie and would read this book but sequels would be out of the question for me...I can only handle so much. Great review as usual!

Amat Libris said...

Yes . . . I can't remember whether I heard anything good about the sequel or not.

Dancin Fool said...

Dear Coversgirl, Oddly I sat and watched Bridget Jones’ Diary only last night. I have pondered reading the book; books being generally far superior to films. Anyway, here is the answer to a few of your queries.

Douglas Hurd - British Conservative Politician


"We should be wary of politicians who profess to follow history while only noticing those signposts of history that point in the direction which they themselves already favour."

"People are very interested in politics, they just don't like it labelled 'politics'."

"Prison is an expensive way of making bad people worse."

Shakira Caine - Former fasion model and actress, and wife of actor Michael Caine

Michael Howard - British Conservative Politician and former Conservative Leader

Anonymous said...

I read and enjoyed this book and its sequel a few years ago, as well as the movies, but I never had the desire to read anything else by this author. I'm not a big reader of chick lit but ya gotta love Bridget!

Amat Libris said...

Dancin' Fool: Thank you! That's a few mysteries cleared up.

Lesley: I don't read much chick lit either but I did think Bridget was wonderful. I think I might have to keep an eye out for the sequel.

Grominou said...

The sequel as a whole is not as good as the first one, but some parts are very funny (the Colin Firth interview is hilarious!). As for her other books, her latest one, Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination, is a little farfetched but a fun read; her first novel, Cause Celeb, while still very funny, has more serious parts -- it takes place in a refugee camp in Africa! I liked it a lot.

Anonymous said...

'bridget jones's diary' is like one of the textbooks in chick lit genre. needless to say it's one of my favourite chick lit books. i love both this book and the sequel; it's not mind-blowing or anything, but it doesn't disappoint the way some sequels do.

the movies of both books aren't too bad either, i guess it helps when they employ helen fielding to help adapt the screenplay too. and colin firth is so irresistibly yummy.

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