Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bridget Jones (Top 100 #46)

By Helen Fielding

I just finished reading Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Edge of Reason consecutively, so I thought I’d do a joint review, since they’re kind of a package deal. As sequels generally are.

Three Things I Liked About Bridget Jones:
1. British-ness (slang, behavior, etc.)
2. Diary form
3. Secondary characters

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Believe it or not, this is actually on the Top 100 list, an accolade I don’t exactly agree it deserves and which I can only explain by a) acknowledging that it is a heavily British biased list and b) surmising that they wanted to include something modern and light to contrast the denser, darker material and prove that their literary heyday has not passed but they are, in fact, still producing worthy works of literature. Which I don’t doubt! But I’m not convinced Bridget Jones’s Diary was really the best example they could have chosen. Ah, well.

Bridget is a 30-something Singleton living in London, working in an entry-level publishing job and crushing on her boss. She’s supposed to be the hilarious mouthpiece of The Average Woman, worrying about her weight and how much she drinks (both of which she tracks in daily tallies before each entry) and her parents’ craziness and whether she’ll be single forever and die alone in her flat to be discovered by an Alsatian*, but I didn’t exactly identify with her all that much. Maybe because I’m not a 30-something, but I suspect I am simply just not a Bridget Jones kind of girl. Anyway, her escapades and daily dilemmas range from the frivolous to the completely over-the-tip, as do the appearances of the supporting cast: her mother and her mother’s boy toy Julio, her boss/sometimes boyfriend Daniel Cleaver, her potentially crazy friends, her frenemy Rebecca, and more. Actually, come to think of it, just about everyone in Bridget’s world has a screw or two loose. That’s what makes the whole thing almost campy in its outrageousness.

Also, I have to say it, you know I do: That is the most hideous eyesore of a cover I have ever seen, hands down.
The Edge of Reason

The Edge of Reason picks up four weeks after Bridget Jones’s Diary left off, and in it Bridget’s story becomes, if possible, even more ludicrous and over-the-top. I’m talking mother’s human souvenir from trip to Kenya. I’m talking an interview with Colin Firth**. I’m talking gaping hole in apartment wall covered with plastic for 6 months. I’m talking Thai prison. I’m talking amateur death threat. And I’m totally serious. All in one book.

Basically, The Edge of Reason is more of the same. I mean, I know sequels are by nature a extension of the original story (duh), but in this case the two could literally be combined seamlessly into one volume.

Overall, Bridget’s offbeat personality, over-the-top escapades, and zealous fretting about herself and her relationships based largely on the advice of self-help books makes her enjoyable like that friend you find amusing in small doses but who becomes exasperating and immature with overexposure.

*I am not sure what an Alsatian is. If you know, please fill me in.
**I found it delightfully ironic that Bridget would spend so much of the novel obsessing about Colin Firth as Pride and Prejudice's*** Mr. Darcy, when the Bridget Jones movie adaptation of one Mr. (Mark) Darcy is played by said actor. I hope that was done on purpose.
***Link to famous BBC Pride and Prejudice lake scene, so beloved by Bridget and her gang.

Books Read This Year: 55
Top 100 Progress: 46/100

1 comment:

  1. An Alsatian is another name for a German Shepherd. Or a person from the Alsace region of France, but it's probably not referring to that one, haha.