A Year in the Life of a Thirty-Something Single Woman
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
(Note: This review is by a person who has enjoyed viewing the movie on numerous occasions prior to having the pleasure of reading the book. Therefore, despite the reviewer’s best efforts this review may be a little bit partial and prejudiced).
We ALL know Bridget Jones, even if you never read the book or seen the movie, you know her. She is a thirty-something single woman who is dissatisfied with her job, unhappy with her body image, trying to quit her bad habits and addictions, and loathing her singled status. We may not like to admit it, but in one way or another, we are Bridget Jones. Maybe not the whole neurotic, calorie counting, radical feminist part, but the “I want something better for my life” part. We can all relate to her and her plight, and it is because of this that Bridget Jones is one of the most accessible and endearing characters in contemporary literature.
In Bridget Jones’s Diary we spend an entire year with Bridget, learning everything from how many cigarettes she smoked that day to what her mother said to her on the phone. In that sense, it isn’t your typical diary, since it includes detailed conversations between people. Starting the diary on the first of January, Bridget makes a lengthy list of New Year’s Resolutions including resolutions to not obsess about her boss Daniel Cleaver, whom she has a crush on, to be more assertive, to go to gym three times a week, and most importantly to “form functional relationship with responsible adult.” Through Bridget’s diary we learn about the people in her life, such as her mother who, besides hounding Bridget to marry this rich divorcee, is in the middle of separating from Bridget’s father. We are also introduced to Bridget’s friends who, while having relationship problems of their own, are always there to help Bridget with her dilemmas.
One of my favorite elements of this novel is its humor. Bridget is such a laughable character and she gets into numerous humiliating and hysterical situations throughout the novel. In addition, I love the language used in this novel such as Bridget referring to having a bad hair day as having “mad hair,” and when she calls her married friends “Smug Marrieds.” Furthermore, reading a novel with British colloquialisms such as ‘blimey,’ ‘rubbish,’ ‘sodding,’ and my new favorite ‘durr!’ is always a wonderful amusement for this Anglophile!
Another aspect of this novel that I loved was that it was inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and that it is, as far as I know, one of the earliest Jane Austen Chick-Lit novels ever published. I took great pleasure in finding all the parallels to Pride and Prejudice and discovering which characters were inspired or influenced by Austen.
However, I was a little disappointed in this novel’s ending, which I found to be a little abrupt and weak. This may be because I was expecting it to end like the film version (which was spectacular!) Nonetheless, I would have liked for this novel to have had a stronger resolution. In addition, since we see everything from Bridget’s perspective, the reader only sees what Bridget sees. I suppose this is a disadvantage of writing in a diary format and not the fault of the author. Even though Bridget was a reliable and informative narrator, I missed not learning more about Mark Darcy and what was going through his head throughout the novel.
If you are looking for a brilliant and comedic novel that will make you laugh out loud and laugh at yourself, look no further than Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.