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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's Diary was first published when I was in college- in 1996 I think, I don't have the book here to check. It was a huge hit and became a bigger movie. I often see it listed as the beginning of chick lit and Bridget as a favorite chick lit character. (But don't ask for cites, I am too lazy to find them.) I have a vague memory of reading it then, but my records don't seem to back me up, so perhaps I skimmed it. Reading it now, it is entirely possible that I wasn't interested. Bridget was 30 and single, smoked and drank. All things that did not apply to me. However, it comes up often enough on the internet that I thought perhaps I should read it to refresh my memory.

Bridget is single and in search of a man. She worries about her weight, she wants to quit smoking, she has the stereotypical gay best friend. Her mother is an embarrassment to her and her married friends (the Smug Marrieds) want to fix her up. As the title would suggest, the book is formatted as a diary and covered one year from New Year's to New Year's.

While I am a fan of chick lit, I was not overly impressed with Bridget Jones's Diary. The diary format (which I usually LOVE) was clunky to me with phrases like "get up straight away when wake up in mornings" and then entire sections written in third person that no real person would put in their diary. Some of the situations she found herself in were funny, but many of them were contrived (really, who puts pans of uncooked food on the kitchen floor? And if you did, would you REALLY step in them?) Bridget herself is easy enough to like but her two female friends (Sharon and Jude) were incredibly annoying. I can see how this became the beginning of chicklit as it has every stereotype in it. (Feminist friend, gay friend, feng shui friend, mom is who finding herself after years of marriage, sucky job, bad habits, unattainable man, bad boy boss/bad office relationship.) It has been compared to Pride & Prejudice, and indeed the male lead is named Mark Darcy, but I think it's an awfully big stretch. Besides the fact that they don't like each other in the beginning (which frankly is the basis for every other romance novel written) I don't see many similarities. There are a few conversations at the end that could be similar, but Mr. Darcy isn't really a central character until near the end.

I didn't really dislike the book, but it would never go on a favorites list. I'm glad I read it, since it does hold a important spot in chick lit, and it's really fast and easy to read.

This books fills the "New Classic" portion of Trish's Classics Challenge.


  1. I listened to this book on CD and I think I liked it better than I would have in print form. For some reason, diary style writing is VERY unpleasant for me to look at (as of about eight years ago - I used to LOVE it).

    But yeah, even still, not anywhere near the top of my favorite chicklit list.

  2. I read BJD when it was first released, I remember thinking it was 'just okay'. Maybe it was too hyped up at that point for it to ever live up to my expectations!? I'd take a Jen Lancaster book over this any day!

    I also signed up for the Classics Challenge. Just finished up Persuasion, which I surprisingly enjoyed :)

  3. I haven't read this one either but I am wondering if it might not be a good audio book candidate. I know my daughter loved it.

  4. Ha ha! Oh well. :) I laughed so hard when I read this book--I read it in college on the bus to and from school and got a many strange stares from the other riders. It is silly and contrived and unbelievable, but I also thought it was fun. The style did take a lot of getting used to.

    The part that bored me was the whole scenario with Bridget's mom and Julian (or julio??)--I was really glad they left that out of the movie.

  5. janssen, I think it might work better in audio. It did seem like how someone would talk, just not how they'd write in their diary.

    bekkah, I'm reading Persuasion now for the challenge too!

    juliann, yeah, audio is the way to go, I think.

    trish, the Julian (Julio? I can't even remember and I JUST READ IT) storyline got old. I didn't mind the part where her parents split and her dad was sad, but the rest of it? no. Too much. My only memory of the movie is a fight between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, and I thought that was better. In the book they never really intersect.


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