I read Bridget Jones’s Diary a few weeks back on a whim. I was getting burned out from reading about psychopaths and killers, so I wanted to shake things up a bit and read something that was happy for once. I know, it surprised me too. I wasn’t expecting much when I first picked it up, mostly because I’d had this pre-determined notion that it was a silly, girly book that no serious connoisseur of literature like myself could possibly like (yes, I’m sad to say I really was that obnoxious; I blame the hipster English major in me). But oh man, was I wrong! I absolutely loved it!
For those of you who somehow managed to miss the whole Bridget Jones craze in the late 90s and early 2000s, Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary is the personal diary of a single 30-something British woman in London. The novel spans a year in Bridget Jones’s life, and very humorously chronicles her interactions with her friends and family, her battles to lose weight and cut back on her drinking and smoking, and her career issues. The core plot, however, centers around her quest to find love, and the majority of the story details how she first falls in and out of love with her devilishly handsome yet deviant co-worker Daniel Cleaver, and then eventually falls in love with rich and famous lawyer and all around good guy, Mark Darcy. Did that last name catch your eye? It should: Bridget Jones’s Diary is a re-imagining of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice.
This was just an all around feel-good book that also happened to be *hilariously* funny. I’ll admit, I fell in love with her character on the first page, which was the beginning of her New Years resolutions:
I WILL NOT
Drink more than fourteen alcohol units in a week.
Waste money on: pasta-makers, ice-cream machines or other culinary devices which will never use; books by unreadable literary authors to put impressively on shelves; exotic underwear, since pointless as have no boyfriend.
Behave sluttishly around the house, but instead imagine others are watching.
Spend more than earn.
Bridget is charming and endearing throughout the novel, and the point of attachment with her remained strong and consistent for me as a reader (which, you may recall from my past review on Gone Girl, isn’t always the case). I’ll admit, there were points when she got a little exasperating—”oh woe is me I’m so unloved and I’ll never get a boyfriend” whining does tend to get a bit old—but the humor always managed to make up for it with me. Maybe it’s just me and my affinity for self-deprecating humor, but opening a diary entry with “alcohol units 5 (drowning sorrows), cigarettes 23 (fumigating sorrows) calories 3856 (smothering sorrows in fat-duvet” makes me legitimately laugh out loud.
My only real issue with this book (apart from Bridget being annoying every once in a while) is that the ending was *very* rushed. There is a real page space discrepancy between Bridget’s relationship with Daniel Cleaver and her relationship with Mark Darcy, in that about two-thirds of the book deals with Daniel and only the last third with Mark. This causes the ending to feel a bit tagged on and underdeveloped, which is unfortunate because otherwise it’s a very nice feel-good happy ending. Granted, I personally found the ending to Pride and Prejudice to be similarly rushed and underdeveloped, so the source material isn’t perfect to begin with. But seeing as Bridget Jones’s Diary is a re-imagining of that story and not an actual word-for-word retelling of it, it would’ve been nice if a bit more space were devoted to developing the Mark Darcy relationship and building up to the subsequent happy ending.
That said, these problems were minor overall and, like I said in the beginning, I loved this book. I would highly recommend it to all my female readers. Male readers, though, not so much; while I was wrong in thinking that I couldn’t like a silly girl’s book, it was still very much a silly girl’s book that I don’t think was written with a male audience in mind. But what do I know? I’m not a guy; Who am I to say that a guy won’t take something away from this?
If nothing else, you just might get a good laugh out of it, especially if you do the fun game that my friend and I came up with for this book: read the dialogue exchanges out loud in Christian Bale’s Batman and Tom Hardy’s Bane voices. Seriously. Try it. I dare you to say “Aloof, unavailable ice-queen; aloof, unavailable ice-queen” in a Batman voice without laughing.