I’d like to talk about Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. I read this book back in the dark, frigid days of January to fulfill the Romantic Comedy requirement for The Eclectic Reader Challenge. Since it is now the dark, frigid days of March, it’s about time I offered my thoughts about Bridget and her alcohol-infused, smoke-shrouded year of self-improvement and almost desperate quest to find Mr. Right.
To be honest, the book was a bit of a let down. However, this state of affairs has nothing to do with Helen Fielding. She crafted a story that was exactly what it was supposed to be – a funny, easy-reading piece of fluff that relentlessly pokes fun at just about everything. I also realize that doing this well is a lot harder than it seems. The fault of my disappointment lies solely in my over-inflated expectations. I believed the hype that has been following this book around for a decade or so and it set me up for disappointment. Add to that error of judgment the fact that romantic comedy isn’t my cup of tea and I was bound to be underwhelmed.
It’s not that I don’t like romance. Far from it, actually. Pride and Prejudice (by Jane Austen), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë), and Katherine (by Anya Seton) are some of my favorite books and no one would argue the romance angle of any of those stories. However, I like my romance to be wrapped up in something equally compelling (i.e., astute and witty social commentary, Gothic drama, history, etc.). When it comes right down to it, I prefer meaty, complicated stories with strong female characters which seem to be the antithesis of romantic comedy.
The best aspect of Bridget Jones’s Diary is the loose parallels to Pride and Prejudice and I enjoyed comparing the characters from the two tales. It’s particularly interesting that Ms. Fielding chose Bridget’s mother for the role that mirrored Lydia, Elizabeth’s wayward sister. On the other hand, Bridget is no Elizabeth Bennett. Instead of being witty and demonstrating personal growth throughout the story, Bridget stagnates in her whininess and foolishness and can’t seem to move beyond shallow sexual relationships with men to more meaningful intimacy. I did enjoy when she waxed philosophical about topics like Christmas and friendship but those moments didn’t seem to fit with the rest of her personality.
For me, Bridget Jones’ Diary was a relatively fun but easily forgotten book. I didn’t feel that I wasted my time, but I wouldn’t take the time to read it again. Marissa, a member of Goodreads.com, sums up my feelings perfectly:
A novel by, say, Edith Wharton is like a twelve-course meal. By comparison, Bridget Jones’s Diary is like a single potato chip: tempting and kind of amusing but not satisfying, fluffy rather than substantial–and quickly forgotten.
Bridget Jones’s Diary didn’t sell me on romantic comedy. However, the style of writing was engaging and Bridget was, if not “screamingly funny”, funny enough to keep me going. I think the book deserves a 3/5 stars.
My progress in The Eclectic Reader Challenge:
- True Crime (Non Fiction)
- Romantic Comedy – Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding 3/5 stars
- Alternate History Fiction
- Graphic Novel – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 5/5 stars
- Cozy Mystery Fiction
- Gothic Fiction
- War/Military Fiction
- Medical Thriller Fiction
- Travel (Non Fiction)
- Published in 2014