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?