Bridget Jones's Diary
This entertaining book is a fast-moving, funny look at the inner turmoil of a 30-something woman who is looking for a boyfriend, a better job, and a thinner body. Bridget wakes up New Years Day and resolves to change her life and track her progress in her diary. Lucky us, we get to read along as she and her friends encounter a dating obstacle course littered with emotionally immature men and the burdens of their own lack of self confidence. What this book lacks in plot, it makes up for in pithy dialogue and commentary. A representative and amusing example:
"Sharon and I were suddenly filled with remorse and self-loathing for not advising Jude simply to get rid of Vile Richard because he is vile. But then, as Sharon pointed out, last time we did that they got back together and she told him everything we'd said in a fit of reconciliatory confession and now it is cripplingly embarrassing every time we see him and he things we are the Bitch Queens from Hell - which, as Jude points out, is a misapprehension because, although we have discovered our Inner Bitches, we have not yet unlocked them."
But lest you worry that it is all men bashing, men in this book aren't all evil. Marriage isn't oppressive, but it isn't worth marrying the wrong person for. Relationship games are wrong, but sometimes people end up playing them anyway. Bridget's life is probably (hopefully!) filled with more melodrama than yours, but the feelings are familiar. Via the diary format, we get to see Bridget vent, plan, obsess, build herself up, and psych herself out. Rather than coming across as whiny, though, her words sound like one's own inner monologue, keeping track of how the day is tallying up.
For fans of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, there is the additional bonus of watching Bridget's family try to set her up with the fabulously successful and wealth Mark Darcy. If there is any doubt as to whether we should associate Mark with his literary namesake, Bridget remarks, upon first meeting him at a party:
"It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It's like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting 'Cathy' and banging your head against a tree."
Given that setup, it won't surprise the reader that Bridget Jones's quest to find a husband is a loosely translated version of Austen's story into the modern world of the working, liberated woman. In fact, tracing those parallels adds to the pleasure of the story, though a familiarity with the inspiring book is by no means a requirement to enjoy this one.
Overall, this book gets a definite '+' - it ranges from funny to hilarious without becoming unredeemable cynical.
Review written June 2001.
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