Bridget Jones’s Diary

January 31, 2017
Bridget Jones's Diary Book Cover Bridget Jones's Diary
Bridget Jones, #1
Helen Fielding
Retelling
Viking Adult
July 1st, 1998
Hardcover
288
Library
1996

"130 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds overnight? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier (repulsive, horrifying notion)); alcohol units 2 (excellent) cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow); number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)?"
This laugh-out-loud chronicle charts a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a single girl on a permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement--in which she resolves to: visit the gym three times a week not merely to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and not fall for any of the following: misogynists, megalomaniacs, adulterers, workaholics, chauvinists or perverts. And learn to program the VCR.

Caught between her Singleton friends, who are all convinced they will end up dying alone and found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian, and the Smug Marrieds, whose dinner parties offer ever-new opportunities for humiliation, Bridget struggles to keep her life on an even keel (or at least afloat). Through it all, she will have her readers helpless with laughter and shouting, "BRIDGET JONES IS ME!"

(via Goodreads)

I don’t do a ton of re-reading. There are so many great books out there I haven’t seen yet. But sometimes, you want to return to an old friend and know you are about to enjoy your reading experience. When one of my friends suggested we both re-read Bridget Jones Diary, I jumped at the chance.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and Bridget has some resolutions to set. In stereotypical fashion Bridget wants to lose weight, stop smoking, get a grip on her drinking, and generally develop “inner poise and authority and sense of self as a woman of substance, complete without boyfriend, as the best way to obtain boyfriend.” …Like every woman in her late 20s. Right? Right. And, what better way to track resolutions than through a diary? Bridget is a neurotic but lovable thirty-something who is trying to balance diets, friends, work, romance, and a family crisis simultaneously. Her life is constantly one big drama. Inevitably, as you would expect based on this description, these diary entries are amazing.

Exes should never, never go out with or marry other people but should remain celibate to the end of their days in order to provide you with a mental fallback position.

In her diary (totally counts as epistolary in my book– and I LOVE epistolary novels), Bridget bares her stream-of-consciousness mental clutter in a brilliant and relatable way. She is relatable, but also a complete train wreck and you can’t look away. Fielding does a wonderful job defining Bridget. From her diary introductions (alcohol units, 3 (v. good)), to her missing pronouns, to her putting together a To Do list in one paragraph only to “wake up” from a nap in the next realizing she has done nothing, I found Bridget to be fully realized. She makes some terrible life choices I would never consider. But, I can also relate to why she is doing these things and what compels her to do so. She has a crazy family, crazy friends, and has developed to fit these situations she finds herself in. Besides, in this way, her life is far more interesting to read about than mine would be.

Alcohol units: 5. Drowning sorrows. Cigarettes: 23. Fumigating sorrows. Calories: 3,856. Smothering sorrows in fat duvet.

Bridget’s character is endearing and almost frustrating. She jumps back and forth between her modern woman ideals of independence and a pathetic desire to be all things to all men. It’s frustrating because I see this character is so many women. This is what makes Bridget lovable and the pinnacle of Chick Lit: Almost all women can see themselves, at some level, in her. Whether you are staunch independent feminist or a frequent reader of Cosmo, some aspect of Bridget will appeal to you. But, as Bridget says:

I am a child of Cosmopolitan culture, have been traumatized be supermodels and too many quizzes and know that neither my personality nor my body is up to it if left to its own devices. I can’t take the pressure.

As far as I’m concerned, Bridget Jones’s Diary is the best Pride and Prejudice retelling I have ever read. And I have read quite a few. Bridget isn’t exactly Elizabeth Bennett; she’s smart but very ditzy. She doesn’t have a slurry of siblings or a sassy father figure. In a way, the parallels to Pride and Prejudice are subtle. But, they also aren’t. Bridget makes a joke about how stuffy Mark Darcy is brooding in a corner, ala Fitzwilliam Darcy. She also watched the BBC Pride and Prejudice mini-series as it is being first aired and suggests the magazine she works for interviews Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy.

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.

I love the changes from Pride and Prejudice. Suddenly, a complex family drama is centered around three players. That said, my favorite character is Pride and Prejudice is Mr. Bennett. Mr. Jones is completely perfect for the character he needs to be. But I missed Mr. Bennett’s banter. Instead, I found my favorite character to be Sharon, aka Shazzer. I had forgotten how amazing her feminist rages are. (I wish I was that articulate when a man pissed me off.) Her friends listen, agree, and then realize they aren’t really living the embodiement of these ideals, so obviously, they go drinking. It’s brilliant. All of Bridget’s friends are amazing people and wonderful characters. Honestly, she wouldn’t have made it without them and I want them as my friends.

…although We have discovered our Inner Bitches, we have not yet unlocked them.

Bridget Jones’s Diary is a fun read for anyone who ever worried about the little things in life. Strongly recommended to fans of Pride and Prejudice, diary-format novels, chick-lit, lovers of the movie version, or anyone needing a good laugh.


What do you think?

  • For those of you familiar with her character: Do you see any of yourself in Bridget Jones?
  • As compared to other Pride and Prejudice retellings, how does Bridget Jones’s Diary stand up?
  • Have you seen the movie? Did you enjoy it? Can you compare it to the book at all?

33 Comments

  • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel January 31, 2017 at 10:07 am

    You really enjoyed the read. That’s great. I took the easy way out and watched the movie.

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 4, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      There’s nothing wrong with that! Sometimes, that’s a great way to go. Particularly when it’s a book you’re interested in, but so many other book are more of a priority. .

  • LizScanlon January 31, 2017 at 11:05 am

    I have seen bits of the movie over the years but I never read the book. Sounds like the book is definitely better than the movie, as always… I’m interested though… only if for the frustration at her bad decisions and ditziness! ha…

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 4, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      I feel like the movie is quite a bit different from the book in subtle ways. But they are both quite entertaining! I don’t really think of this book as up your alley, but in case you ever do read this I’d love to hear what you think.

  • Laila@BigReadingLife January 31, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I read this ages ago when I was young and single and remember loving it. You really did it justice – great job! (Also, I would kill to be 130 lbs, ha ha!) 🙂

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 4, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      D’aw, thanks Laila! I appreciate that. I too wold love to be 130 pound again. But that seems to unattainable… The worst part is how people call her sly undercuttings of fat throughout the book! What is that?!

  • YAandWine January 31, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I adore Bridget Jones. Loved the sequel too! There’s a third book that I just could not get into though.

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 4, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      I have been warned to stay away from the third book. It’s great to have that reinforced! I haven’t read the sequel, but I should definitely check it out when I need something fluffy and funny. Thanks for the rec!

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea January 31, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Ok, so I admit that I loved the film. Which is odd, because I never watch movies like this haha. But I have honestly never had a desire to read this, until now. I am so embarrassed because it never clicked that it was a Pride and Prejudice retelling. Shows you how well versed I am in that area 🙁

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      There’s nothing wrong with not noticing! Bridget is SO different from Elizabeth Bennett. Plus, with all the jokes Bridget makes about Mark Darcy being the same as Fitzwilliam Darcy, it seems too obvious to be a real thing.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the film! It’s a fun thing when you just need something lighthearted. There is definitely a time and place for such things. Ditto for the book. Just make certain you’re in the right mood when it comes time for that. 🙂

      • Books, Vertigo and Tea February 5, 2017 at 7:31 pm

        Haha, I just feel ridiculous though. Although I admit, I am not quite the Pride and Prejudice fan that many are. Maybe I need to give it another attempt now in my older years 🙂

  • Jasmine January 31, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I actually enjoyed the movie a lot. I totally forgot about the book. Thanks for posting the review. I will add it to my TBR 🙂 My co-worker went to see the sequel recently and she didn’t like it. Have you seen it yet?

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 4, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the first film! I saw the second film, and it wasn’t as good, but still kinda fun. The newest film I haven’t seen yet. I will definitely rent it one night with my girlfriends and a bottle of wine. 🙂 Good or bad movie, it’ll still be a good time in that case.
      It’s a fun book, and I hope you enjoy it once you get to it.

  • Birdie January 31, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I love this book, and I loved the movie.

    Excellent review!

    • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku February 4, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks, Birdie! It seems you’re the only one who has both read the book and watched the movie! Good to know I’m not alone. 🙂

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom February 3, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    I think I may be the only person alive that hasn’t read the book… OR seen the movie ((hides in shame)) lol I didn’t realize it has a P&P retelling vibe!

    • Jackie B February 4, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      I’m actually really surprised to hear that! I think you’d enjoy the book. It’s a fun romp. Bridget is super different from Elizabeth Bennett, but in a good way. They are very distinct stories, for sure. Have you read P&P?

  • Jasmine February 5, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Oh! I must’ve been mistaken.. there were 3 movies to Bridget Jones? I think I have seen the first two then.. but not the newest one. 🙂 Yes, enjoy your wine and Bridget and friends. That should be fun 🙂

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      Yup! The second one wasn’t particularly well received. And I’m not even certain why they decided to bring this back… Fielding wrote Bridget Jones’s Baby as book 2.5– it goes between books 2 and 3, but is a full length novel. I think the final book was just so poorly received that she wanted an opportunity to redeem herself. But that’s just speculation.

  • Jasmine February 7, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Do you have plans to read all 3 books?

    • Jackie B February 13, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Not really? It’s one of those where I want to see what happens and learn more about Bridget’s future, but I am afraid the books will get worse as I read them and it will take away all my love for the original Bridget Jones. Does that make sense? It happened to me with the Divergent series. I don’t want a repeat.

  • Grab the Lapels February 12, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I think because Jones is so much like a contemporary woman–obsessed with weight, dating, and appearing collected–that I pretty much run from her. Yes, I have read all three books. Yes, I cringed while I read them…but I still read them for some reason. I thought the third book had a lot of potential to get serious and SAY something, but it falls back into Book #1 Bridget behavior. These days, my female co-works are obsessing about their weight. I can’t hand it. Their brains are being used to figure out how they can be thin so they can be f**kable. That’s what it boils down to, right? I mean, if you were the only person on the planet, would you care about being thin? One day I moved from the lunch table with women to one with all the sports coaches (2 dudes and a woman). They started talking about weight *smh*

    My favorite part about the film, though, is that Mr. Darcy is played by BBC Mr. Darcy. So cute! So meta!

    • Jackie B February 13, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      Oh yeah. I am COMPLETELY picking up what you are putting down. I am both appalled by Bridget’s character and charmed. She’s very much a 90’s every-woman. It’s easy for people to place themselves on her. But, at the same time, I love how absurd she is because is shows me how absurd I can be about those things. If anything, Bridget’s character allows me to see my own societal-induced flaws more clearly.

      I am impressed you read all three! I am stopping after book one (because I am afraid I’ll hate the others), but I bet there is a ton of fun there. Plus– Colin Firth is amazing. It’s so hilarious watching him play Darcy AGAIN.

      • Grab the Lapels February 14, 2017 at 6:49 am

        The second one goes very easily with the first; it’s like a continuation. Book three IS different, though.

        • Jackie B February 15, 2017 at 9:01 am

          This reminds me of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books. The first three books easily parallel each other, but the fourth book is super different. I DNF’d it, I’m embarrassed to say. I just couldn’t take the drastic change in tone and characterizations.

          • Grab the Lapels February 15, 2017 at 10:01 am

            I hear you. In Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, she’s with Mark, but the happily ever after doesn’t work the same way in life as it does in fairy tales, so there are some bumps. She ends up going to an Asian country to do some journalism, and lo and behold, Daniel, is there. It’s fun! Give it a read! Also, isn’t there a 4th book now? I haven’t read that one…it goes back to when she had a baby, which, to me, feels a bit like a Helen Fielding money grab. Write a new character, lady, or write a different book from the perspective of one of the friends, like Shazzer.

          • Jackie B February 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm

            Exactly!~ I would LOVE to read about Shazzer and her life experiences. I swear, she is my spirit animal.

  • Jasmine February 14, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I understand you.. I did the same with Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic. I only like book 1. I started to read book 2 with the baby shopping and I didn’t like it. But maybe I read that when I didn’t have a baby at the time.. I’m not sure how I feel of it now.

    • Jackie B February 15, 2017 at 8:59 am

      I haven’t read those books yet– but I’ve heard the same thing! Start with book one and stop there if you are content but not in love. I wonder what it is about these sorts of books?

  • Diana February 23, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Great review. Now I want to read the books. I watched the first movie and I really liked it. I also liked Bridget’s character. I think I need to read the books though.

    • Jackie B February 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      Hahaha– thanks, Diana! That’s a huge compliment to me. 😀 I would definitely encourage you to read the books. I’ve only read the first one, but Bridget is a ton of fun. She’s not a person I can relate too much, but I love her quirks and craziness. It’s a real fun romp; even better if you are familiar with Pride and Prejudice, obviously. I hope you enjoy it, when you get to this book!

  • Ashley Rebecca March 7, 2017 at 11:11 am

    I’ve never actually read Bridget Jones’ Diary, or even wanted to, mostly because I didn’t understand its point or didn’t feel it spoke to my life in any sort of way. I generally avoid ‘Chick Lit’ like the plague, considering it simply not for me. But your review has raised some interesting and beautiful points that make me feel like, as a young woman, I should honestly give this book a go. Now I really regret seeing it in a charity shop I visited the other day and NOT buying it :’) One of the things that puts me off ‘Chick Lit’ is the vapid construction of the female characters, but from what you’ve described of Bridget she sounds awesome, funny and powerful. Maybe I should pick the films up and try them too.

    Anyway, great review! 🙂

    • Jackie B March 8, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      I know exactly what you mean, Ashley! As a feminist, I always thought that what “Chick Lit” as a genre stood for was completely against my values and ethics. However, I’m finding that more modern chick lit has quite the appeal. Bridget isn’t perfect, but she is a bit of an Everywoman. It’s also fun to laugh at my former self and reflect on what a crazy person I was when I was younger. 🙂

      I hope you do give it a try. You never know when a genre you’ve sworn off will surprise you happily. Thanks for visiting and commenting! I look forward to hearing what you think of Bridget Jones.

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