Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 6, 2016

Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's DiaryOh dear!  Somehow I acquired the erroneous impression that Bridget Jones’s Diary was included in Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and so I bought BJD when I saw it in an Op Shop.  Before I bought my own copy of 1001 Books (2006 edition) I used to use an online list (at Listology?) to track what I’d read and I suppose someone must have added BJD for fun, or *wry smile* because they thought it was a worthy addition that had been overlooked.  (People do this with Listopia at Goodreads –  it drives list-owners crazy having to delete “5-star” romcoms and crime novels that don’t belong).

Oh well, it doesn’t do to take these lists too seriously, and it only took a couple of hours to read BJD.  I found it enjoyable enough, because I’d seen the film and could visualise the scenes that otherwise seem a little clunky in the book.

What I noticed was how quickly this book has dated. The book is almost 20 years old now.  It’s not just that it’s full of pop references and outdated technology like cassette tapes and a *wow* exciting, new, call-back system for identifying the boyfriend who’d telephoned, it’s also that I can’t imagine any author today writing a comic novel featuring a female so obsessed with her weight.  A serious, heavy novel about fat-shaming, body-image or anorexia, maybe, but the whole topic is so loaded today that it might take a brave author to make jokes about it.

But I hope I’m wrong about that because BJD’s comic take on female insecurities shows them up for what they are.  As you know if you saw the film, it’s a rom-com with a happy ending and the take-home message is stop worrying about what other people think.  Serious people have written serious stuff about intertextuality and plot similarities with Pride and Prejudice and the allusions in the text are copious and not exactly subtle.  But for readers who identify with the fear of a lonely single life and irritation with a tactless mother intent on sourcing a rich husband, it’s a light-hearted look at modern relationships.

And it only takes a couple of hours to read…

Author: Helen Fielding
Title: Bridget Jones’s Diary
Publisher: Picador, 2001 (movie-tie in edition, with colour photos)
ISBN: 9780330375252
Source: Op Shop, purchased for $1.00

 


Responses

  1. I think Helen Fielding is someone who is capable of being an immensely entertaining writer – if only she’d carried on I am sure she would have produced some really good work. She’s a little like Sue Townsend – you may not like her topics but she has the knack of making you keep turning the pages. It is interesting to read how dated you found her. That happens quite a lot these days – a video going the rounds shows a couple of boys given a cassette tape and an sony walkman and told to make it work – it takes them ages to work out how the cassette fits in the player

    • I’ve read something by Sue Townsend – The Diary of Adrian Mole, which someone gave my son when he was about 12. I thought it was very funny:)

  2. I was taken aback when I saw the title of the book you had read – I wondered if you’d had some aberration since its so far away from your normal reads :)

    • Ah well, I must confess, I am in the middle of my annual tidy-the- bookshelves routine, and I have a small pile of books labelled ‘read or throw out’. This was one of them…

      • I did my tidy up in December but its already looking a mess again

        • I’m up to Letter K. (And oops, I have discovered three duplicates).

          • I’ve started to keep a list that I update as soon as I buy a book for the very same reason…

            • I do that too, at Goodreads and in an Excel file, but sometimes ‘as soon as I buy’ doesn’t quite happen and then I shelve it thinking I’ve done it…

  3. I haven’t read this – no real desire to – but the film was fun. I did enjoy the P&P refs.

  4. I think I only read a few pages before I ditched it. I don’t like novels written as a diary or epistolary novels and I’m not a big fan of Austen. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t aimed at me. :-)

    • You raise a question that interests me. If a male reads – even just a bit of – a book like this one that’s pitched at women, he learns something about the way some women think and feel. And if a woman reads books pitched at men, like Kit Denton’s The Breaker in the Boys Own Adventure genre, (which I just reviewed) then she learns something about how some men think and feel. For me it’s like a window into another world, to see in print, an author’s implicit admiration for womanising, or – in the case of David Ireland’s The Glass Canoe – a glimpse of the author’s nostalgia for the fellowship that comes with all-male boozing in pubs.
      Reading across gender, meaning reading books that don’t purport to be universalising but are pitched at gendered audiences, can be illuminating about gender relations, I think…

      • I think what put me off straight away with Bridget Jones was that the character was just a stereotype, and nothing more, of a single woman. At the same time there were lads’ mags that had ‘new’ stereotypes of what men were supposed to be like. I just found it all a bit boring and in the end not much different from the old stereotypes. I doubt if I’d like Bridget Jones any more now but I’d probably watch the film rather than read the book in this case.

        • The film was funny. It used the best bits of the book and the casting was excellent.

  5. I read it shortly after it went out and I liked it. It’s fun and light.

    I love that Colin Firth agreed to play in the film. Really, that’s brilliant. (even if I still don’t understand the raving over the pond scene in the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice. Nothing to swoon about)

    • *snap!* The Pond Scene. Ludicrous.


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