Bridget Jones's Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of a thirty-something Singleton on a permanent doomed quest for self-improvement. Caught between the joys of Singleton fun, and the fear of dying alone and being found three weeks later half eaten by an Alsatian; tortured by Smug Married friends asking, "How's your love life?" with lascivious, yet patronizing leers, Bridget resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult and learn to program the VCR. With a blend of flighty charm, existential gloom, and endearing self-deprecation, Bridget Jones's Diary has touched a raw nerve with millions of readers the world round. Read it and laugh—before you cry, "Bridget Jones is me!"
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
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|Age Range:||18 Years|
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129 lbs. (but post-Christmas), alcohol units 14 (but effectively covers 2 days as 4 hours of party was on New Year's Day), cigarettes 22, calories 5424.
Food consumed today:
2 pkts Emmenthal cheese slices
14 cold new potatoes
2 Bloody Marys (count as food as contain Worcester sauce and
1/3 Ciabatta loaf with Brie
coriander leaves--1/2 packet
12 Milk Tray (best to get rid of all Christmas confectionery in
13 cocktail sticks securing cheese and pineapple
Portion Una Alconbury's turkey curry, peas and bananas
Portion Una Alconbury's Raspberry Surprise made with
Noon. London: my flat. Ugh. The last thing on earth I feel physically, emotionally or mentally equipped to do is drive to Una and Geoffrey Alconbury's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet in Grafton Underwood. Geoffrey and Una Alconbury are my parents' best friends and, as Uncle Geoffrey never tires of reminding me, have known me since I was running round the lawn with no clothes on. My mother rang up at 8:30 in the morning last August Bank Holiday and forced me to promise to go. She approached it via a cunningly circuitous route.
know, like air hostesses have."
thing. You look like some sort of Mary Poppins person who's fallen on hard times. Just a little compact case with a pull-out handle. It's amazing how much you can get in. Do you want it in navy on red or red on navy?"
I don't want an air-hostess bag."
that's got that super-dooper job at Arthur Andersen ..."
and get you a proper new big suitcase and a set of wheels?"
the missionary luggage-Christmas-gift zeal had stemmed from. When I put the phone back she was saying: "... in actual fact, you can get them with a compartment with bottles for your bubble bath and things. The other thing I thought of was a shopping cart."
blinking in the dazzling Bank Holiday sunlight.
darling," she suddenly hissed, "you will be coming to Geoffrey and Una's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet this year, won't you?"
be doing? "... think I might have to work on New Year's Day."
mention? Malcolm and Elaine Darcy are coming and bringing Mark with them. Do you remember Mark, darling? He's one of those top-notch barristers. Masses of money. Divorced. It doesn't start till eight."
burgeoning from a side-part. "Mum, I've told you. I don't need to be fixed up with ..."
Year buffet since you were running round the lawn with no clothes on! Of course you're going to come. And you'll be able to use your new suitcase."
11:45 p.m. Ugh. First day of New Year has been day of horror. Cannot quite believe I am once again starting the year in a single bed in my parents' house. It is too humiliating at my age. I wonder if they'll smell it if I have a fag out of the window. Having skulked at home all day, hoping hangover would clear, I eventually gave up and set off for the Turkey Curry Buffet far too late. When I got to the Alconburys' and rang their entire-tune-of-town-hall-clock-style doorbell I was still in a strange world of my own--nauseous, vile-headed, acidic. I was also suffering from road-rage residue after inadvertently getting on to the M6 instead of the M1 and having to drive halfway to Birmingham before I could find anywhere to turn round. I was so furious I kept jamming my foot down to the floor on the accelerator pedal to give vent to my feelings, which is very dangerous. I watched resignedly as Una Alconbury's form--intriguingly deformed through the ripply glass door--bore down on me in a fuchsia two-piece.
about to start without you."
banister, wipe her lipstick off my cheek and make me feel incredibly guilty all in one movement, while I leaned against the ornament shelf for support.
shouting, "She got lost, everyone!"
diamond-patterned sweater. He did a jokey Bob Hope step then gave me the sort of hug which Boots would send straight to the police station.
up by the waistband. "Which junction did you come off at?"
added an hour to your journey before you even started. Come on, let's get you a drink. How's your love life, anyway?"
polite question to ask? We wouldn't rush up to them and roar, "How's your marriage going? Still having sex?" Everyone knows that dating in your thirties is not the happy-go-lucky free-for-all it was when you were twenty-two and that the honest answer is more likely to be, "Actually, last night my married lover appeared wearing suspenders and a darling little Angora crop-top, told me he was gay/a sex addict/a narcotic addict/a commitment phobic and beat me up with a dildo," than, "Super, thanks."
Geoffrey, "Fine," at which point he boomed, "So you still haven't got a feller!"
girls! I don't know! Can't put it off forever, you know. Tick-tock-tick-tock."
married?" roared Brian Enderby (married to Mavis, used to be president of the Rotary in Kettering), waving his sherry in the air. Fortunately my dad rescued me.
"Your mother has the entire Northamptonshire constabulary poised to comb the county with toothbrushes for your dismembered remains. Come and demonstrate your presence so I can start enjoying myself. How's the be-wheeled suitcase?"
hadn't turned up, but Mark Darcy ... Yuk. Every time my mother's rung up for weeks it's been, "Of course you remember the Darcys, darling. They came over when we were living in Buckingham and you and Mark played in the paddling pool!" or, "Oh! Did I mention Malcolm and Elaine are bringing Mark with them to Una's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet? He's just back from America, apparently. Divorced. He's looking for a house in Holland Park. Apparently he had the most terrible time with his wife. Japanese. Very cruel race."
darling? Malcolm and Elaine's son? He's one of these super-dooper top-notch lawyers. Divorced. Elaine says he works all the time and he's terribly lonely. I think he might be coming to Una's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet, actually."
do shag Mark Darcy over the turkey curry, won't you? He's very rich."
had time to get a drink down me. Being set up with a man against your will is one level of humiliation, but being literally dragged into it by Una Alconbury while caring for an acidic hangover, watched by an entire roomful of friends of your parents, is on another plane altogether.
his back to the room, scrutinizing the contents of the Alconburys' bookshelves: mainly leather-bound series of books about the Third Reich, which Geoffrey sends off for from Reader's Digest. 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.
got someone nice for you to meet."
harmless navy sweater was actually a V-neck diamond-patterned in shades of yellow and blue--as favored by the more elderly of the nation's sports reporters. As my friend Tom often remarks, it's amazing how much time and money can be saved in the world of dating by close attention to detail. A white sock here, a pair of red braces there, a gray slip-on shoe, a swastika, are as often as not all one needs to tell you there's no point writing down phone numbers and forking out for expensive lunches because it's never going to be a runner.
all pink and fluttery. "Bridget works in publishing, don't you, Bridget?"
Capital radio phone-in and was about to ask Una if I could "say hello" to my friends Jude, Sharon and Tom, my brother Jamie, everyone in the office, my mum and dad, and last of all all the people at the Turkey Curry Buffet.
"Durr! I expect you're sick to death of us old fuddy-duddies."
attempt at a smile, at which Una, after rolling her eyes, putting a hand to her bosom and giving a gay tinkling laugh, abandoned us with a toss of her head to a hideous silence.
lately?" he said.
book. The trouble with working in publishing is that reading in your spare time is a bit like being a dustman and snuffling through the pig bin in the evening. I'm halfway through Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, which Jude lent me, but I didn't think Mark Darcy, though clearly odd, was ready to accept himself as a Martian quite yet. Then I had a brainwave.
haven't exactly read it as such, but feel I have as Sharon has been ranting about it so much. Anyway, completely safe option as no way diamond-pattern-jumpered goody-goody would have read five-hundred-page feminist treatise.
you find there was rather a lot of special pleading?"
a way to get off the subject. "Have you been staying with your parents over New Year?"
actually." I gabbed nervously so that Una and Mum wouldn't think I was so useless with men I was failing to talk to even Mark Darcy. "But then I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day, don't you? Since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system. Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, in order to ease your hangover. I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second."
bolted off toward the buffet, leaving me standing on my own by the bookshelf while everybody stared at me, thinking, "So that's why Bridget isn't married. She repulses men."
that. They kept making me walk round with trays of gherkins and glasses of cream sherry in a desperate bid to throw me into Mark Darcy's path yet again. In the end they were so crazed with frustration that the second I got within four feet of him with the gherkins Una threw herself across the room like Will Carling and said, "Mark, you must take Bridget's telephone number before you go, then you can get in touch when you're in London."
up my neck. Now Mark would think I'd put her up to it.
Mrs. Alconbury," he said. Humph. It's not that I wanted him to take my phone number or anything, but I didn't want him to make it perfectly obvious to everyone that he didn't want to. As I looked down I saw that he was wearing white socks with a yellow bumblebee motif
genuine reason for coming over, which was quite definitely gherkin-based rather than phone-number-related.
marched him over toward me and stood just behind while he said stiffly, "Do you need driving back to London? I'm staying here but I could get my car to take you."
my trains in the morning."
2 a.m. Oh, why am I so unattractive? Why? Even a man who wears bumblebee socks thinks I am horrible. Hate the New Year. Hate everyone. Except Daniel Cleaver. Anyway, have got giant tray-sized bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk left over from Christmas on dressing table, also amusing joke gin and tonic miniature. Am going to consume them and have fag.
130 lbs. (terrifying slide into obesity--why? why?), alcohol units 6 (excellent), cigarettes 23 (v.g.), calories 2472.
9 a.m. Ugh. Cannot face thought of going to work. Only thing which makes it tolerable is thought of seeing Daniel again, but even that is inadvisable since am fat, have spot on chin, and desire only to sit on cushion eating chocolate and watching Xmas specials. It seems wrong and unfair that Christmas, with its stressful and unmanageable financial and emotional challenges, should first be forced upon one wholly against one's will, then rudely snatched away just when one is starting to get into it. Was really beginning to enjoy the feeling that normal service was suspended and it was OK to lie in bed as long as you want, put anything you fancy into your mouth, and drink alcohol whenever it should chance to pass your way, even in the mornings. Now suddenly we are all supposed to snap into self-discipline like lean teenage greyhounds.
10 p.m. Ugh. Perpetua, slightly senior and therefore thinking she is in charge of me, was at her most obnoxious and bossy, going on and on to the point of utter boredom about latest half-million-pound property she is planning to buy with her rich-but-overbred boyfriend, Hugo: "Yars, yars, well it is north-facing but they've done something frightfully clever with the light."
tight red skirt with a bizarre three-quarter-length striped waistcoat strapped across it. What a blessing to be born with such Sloaney arrogance. Perpetua could be the size of a Renault Espace and not give it a thought. How many hours, months, years, have I spent worrying about weight while Perpetua has been happily looking for lamps with porcelain cats as bases around the Fulham Road? She is missing out on a source of happiness, anyway. It is proved by surveys that happiness does not come from love, wealth or power but the pursuit of attainable goals: and what is a diet if not that?
chocolate tree decorations and a 3.69 [pounds sterling] bottle of sparkling wine from Norway, Pakistan or similar. I guzzled them by the light of the Christmas tree, together with a couple of mince pies, the last of the Christmas cake and some Stilton, while watching Eastenders, imagining it was a Christmas special.
fat splurging out from my body. Never mind. Sometimes you have to sink to a nadir of toxic fat envelopment in order to emerge, phoenix-like, from the chemical wasteland as a purged and beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer figure. Tomorrow new Spartan health and beauty regime will begin.
being v. successful and clever. He was being v. funny today, telling everyone about his aunt thinking the onyx kitchen-roll holder his mother had given her for Christmas was a model of a penis. Was really v. amusing about it. Also asked me if I got anything nice for Christmas in rather flirty way. Think might wear short black skirt tomorrow.
131 lbs. (state of emergency now as if fat has been stored in capsule form over Christmas and is being slowly released under skin), alcohol units 5 (better), cigarettes 20, calories 700 (v.g.).
4 p.m. Office. State of emergency. Jude just rang up from her portable phone in flood of tears, and eventually managed to explain, in a sheep's voice, that she had just had to excuse herself from a board meeting (Jude is Head of Futures at Brightlings) as she was about to burst into tears and was now trapped in the ladies' with Alice Cooper eyes and no makeup bag. Her boyfriend, Vile Richard (self-indulgent commitment phobic), whom she has been seeing on and off for eighteen months, had chucked her for asking him if he wanted to come on holiday with her. Typical, but Jude naturally was blaming it all on herself.
rather than need. Oh, if only I could turn back the clock."
scheduled for 6:30 in Cafe Rouge. I hope I can get away without bloody Perpetua kicking up.
11 p.m. Strident evening. Sharon immediately launched into her theory on the Richard situation: "Emotional fuckwittage," which is spreading like wildfire among men over thirty. As women glide from their twenties to thirties, Shazzer argues, the balance of power subtly shifts. Even the most outrageous minxes lose their nerve, wrestling with the first twinges of existential angst: fears of dying alone and being found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian. Stereotypical notions of shelves, spinning wheels and sexual scrapheaps conspire to make you feel stupid, no matter how much time you spend thinking about Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon.
armor to wriggle out of commitment, maturity, honor and the natural progression of things between a man and a woman."
of our mouths and sinking down into our coats. After all, there is nothing so unattractive to a man as strident feminism.
holiday with him?" yelled Sharon. "What is he talking about?"
are like Richard. At which point Sharon started on a long illustrative list of emotional fuckwittage in progress in our friends: one whose boyfriend of thirteen years refuses even to discuss living together; another who went out with a man four times who then chucked her because it was getting too serious; another who was pursued by a bloke for three months with impassioned proposals of marriage, only to find him ducking out three weeks after she succumbed and repeating the whole process with her best friend.
daring to refuse to compromise in love and relying on our own economic power. In twenty years' time men won't even dare start with fuckwittage because we will just laugh in their faces," bellowed Sharon.
in with a stunning blonde who was about eight times as attractive as him. He ambled over to us to say hi.
we're just sleeping together. I ought to stop it really, but, well ...," he said, smugly.
schmuck. Right. I'm going to talk to that woman," said Sharon, getting up. Jude and I forcibly restrained her while Alex, looking panic-stricken, rushed back, to continue his fuckwittage unrumbled.
stop beating herself over the head with Women Who Love Too Much and instead think more toward Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, which will help her to see Richard's behavior less as a sign that she is codependent and loving too much and more in the light of him being like a Martian rubber band which needs to stretch away in order to come back.
gym and see her personal shopper before work starts at 8:30 (mad)--Sharon and I suddenly were filled with remorse and self-loathing for not advising Jude simply to get rid of Vile Richard because he is vile. But then, as Sharon pointed out, last time we did that they got back together and she told him everything we'd said in a fit of reconciliatory confession and now it is cripplingly embarrassing every time we see him and he thinks we are the Bitch Queens from Hell--which, as Jude points out, is a misapprehension because, although we have discovered our Inner Bitches, we have not yet unlocked them.
Table of Contents
What People are Saying About This
Helen Fielding is one of the funniest writers alive and Bridget Jones is a creation of comic genius.
Reading Group Guide
An Introduction to Bridget Jones's Diary (as if you really need one):
Single, thirty-something career woman Bridget Jones has taken the best-seller lists by storm -- much to her creator's surprise -- and entered the English language and psyche. As Newsweek put it, "Ally McBeal better watch her scrawny little back -- Bridget Jones is coming to America." Too thin and upwardly mobile, Ally nevertheless shares with Bridget an obsessive, slightly paranoid preoccupation with her love life (or lack thereof), which proves the point: Bridget lives in all of us. She is every woman who has ever looked in the mirror and groaned, resolved to Do Something About It (whether via gym membership, slashing caloric intake, or marshaling Inner Resources), and kicked off the new program in a fattening or embarrassingly public manner.
As Helen Fielding puts it for this Guide, "Bridget's battling with two different ideas. One is the image of the Cosmo Girl, that she should be living this great, independent life full of friends and glamorous dinner parties. The second is the old fashioned idea of failure: that if you're not married by thirty, you'll die alone and be found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian."
So what'll it be: tragic, barren spinsterhood, or relegation to the dull, diaper-and-coordinated-pasta-container-filled realm of the Smug Marrieds?
Take the following quiz to see where you fit on the Bridget-O-Meter. Have you ever:
- realized cellulite is creation of fiendish, misogynist extraterrestrial force in grips of which female earthlings are helpless (or entertained similar, late-night theory)
[ ] NEVER [ ] OCCASIONALLY [ ] FREQUENTLY
- not heard doorbell rung by attractive man owing to proximity of industrial-strength hairdryer to ear?
[ ] NEVER [ ] OCCASIONALLY [ ] FREQUENTLY
- had genuine concern about whereabouts of missing friend tempered by gratification at possessing perfect outfit for funeral?
[ ] NEVER [ ] OCCASIONALLY [ ] FREQUENTLY
- calculated likelihood of dying alone, in bad underwear
[ ] NEVER [ ] OCCASIONALLY [ ] FREQUENTLY
- found more than four pairs of black pantyhose -- each unwearable for a different reason -- in drawer at any one time?
[ ] NEVER [ ] OCCASIONALLY [ ] FREQUENTLY
- served guests food of a color not existing in nature? (Add five points if color is blue; one point per half-hour period between 8:30 and the hour at which dinner typically materializes; two points if consistently tempted to impress guests with food cannot pronounce.)
[ ] NEVER [ ] OCCASIONALLY [ ] FREQUENTLY
- checked phone messages more than six times an hour in any four-day period following initial sexual encounter?
[ ] NEVER [ ] OCCASIONALLY [ ] FREQUENTLY
- been late to first day on job because of two+ hours spent on optimum hair/make-up/outfit combo? (Add one point if ensemble still turned out to be dead wrong. Add two points if punctuality continues to prove elusive.)
[ ] NEVER [ ] OCCASIONALLY [ ] FREQUENTLY
ABOUT HELEN FIELDING
Helen Fielding was born in an industrial town in the north of England, studied at Oxford University, and went on to work in television at the BBC. Her first novel, Cause Celeb, was based on her experience while filming documentaries in Africa for Comic Relief. She now lives in London, after a spell as a newspaper journalist, and is hard at work on the sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary. She is also working on the screenplay for the book, which is being made into a feature film by the producers of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Surely you know better than to ask whether she's married.
An interview with Helen Fielding
Did anything in particular strike you about the reaction of American readers?
I was very surprised that the book took off in America. Before I left, there was an open letter in the paper saying "Don't go there, they won't get it, Americans don't understand irony and self-deprecation." There's a strong culture of self-improvement in America, which is both good and bad. The idea of getting up at five and whizzing from the gym to the board meeting, of getting your bottom down to size and suddenly deciding your soul needs work. I think it's rather a joyless way of being for women, but it seems to have infected us on a global scale. I think that's what people latched on to most.
Why did you write Bridget as a diary?
The best advice I ever had about writing was to do it as if you were writing for a friend. The diary form's very good for that, very direct and intimate. Because it's an imaginary character, you can hide behind a persona. It also allows you to write the sort of shameful thoughts that everyone has but no one wants to admit to, since you're not trying to make anyone like you. A diary is an outlet for your most private thoughts, a very personal way of writing. And that feeling of peeping behind a curtain at someone's else's life is good for a reader.
Will the sequel also be in diary form?
What percentage of your readership do you think is male?
I have no idea, but I do know that there seem to more male readers now. I think lots of people have been given it by their girlfriends, who say, "If you want to understand how women's minds work, read this." When I was writing the column, many men wrote in who thought Bridget was real. One wrote a letter to the editor which read: "Dear Sir, I would quite like to shag Bridget Jones. Could you please let me have her phone number? Many thanks. Yours faithfully." It was quite formal.
Have men actually learned from it?
Smug Marrieds have, because nobody asks me whether I'm married any more. And no more patronizing comments from my married friends; their attitudes really have changed. It sounds rude to go to a Smug Married and say, "How's your marriage going, still having sex?", but not to go up to a Singleton and say, "How's your love life?" It's great if people realize that there isn't just one way to live. That's an old-fashioned concept, and I think it's losing its grip on us. Life in cities is very similar all over the world, and people do tend to live in urban families as much as in nuclear ones. They're not worse off or better off; the point is that it's no longer abnormal to be single.
One of the pleasures of reading Bridget is the vocabulary you invented. Do you have a favorite word or phrase?
I'm very pleased about the word "singleton," which of course wasn't my word. A friend made it up for a party: "singleton's in one hotel, marrieds in another!" "Spinster" is horrible, with connotations of spinning wheels failure. "Singleton's" a good word, and it applies to both men and women
Any new coinages?
Yes, "mentionitis." It's that thing where you can tell someone has a crush on someone because their name keeps coming up in the conversation, completely irrelevantly.
In the event that Bridget joins the ranks of the Marrieds, what aspects of matrimony would you like to tackle?
I'm not sure whether she'll do that, but it's an interesting area. I'm going to look at the reason why men and women do find it difficult to be together, as roles change. Jane Austen was also writing about dating, but in her day the rules were very clear, whereas now it's a quagmire of bluff and counterbluff. Everyone's so busy playing it cool, discussing the next maneuver with their friends, it a miracle that people manage to get together at all.
Is smugness an inevitable component of married life?
No, not at all. I just think that it's very easy for one group of people to decide that their way of living is the right way, and it's always a mistake for people to do that. No one ever knows what's around the corner.
A review in Entertainment Weekly described the book as "subversive." Was that your intent?
I'd use ironic rather than subversive. You can't really explain irony, either. Either you think it's funny or you don't. One of may favorite parts of the book is when Bridget declares, "There's nothing quite so unattractive to a man as a strident feminist."
Would you call Bridget a heroine or an anti-heroine?
I think Bridget's an ironic heroine.
How strong is the link is between economic self-sufficiency and emotional well-being for women?
Austen did say the only thing that renders a single women pitiable is poverty, in Emma, I think. Now it's no longer necessary to be married in order to be well off. I think it has to do with others' perceptions. People who feel sorry for single women tend to feel less so if the women are wealthy, but of course that doesn't mean the women are happier. I just think it's a good idea not to be bigoted.
Do you think women's aspirations have changed substantially in the last few decades?
Yes, things have changed hugely. Roles have shifted enormously, in terms of economic power for one thing. In relation to Bridget, the book is really about trying too hard, trying to be too perfect, and sort of missing the point that what makes Bridget appealing is that she's fun, she's nice, she's a good friend. She's just normal and that's fine. We sometimes lose sight of that alongside the qualities of having it all: a job, a briefcase, a bottom like two snooker balls.
How do you feel about the reviews which felt the book was an "insult to feminism"?
I can quite see that if you're not keen on irony as a form of expression, the book might get on your nerves. It was initially written to make people laugh. If it raises some issues that strike a nerve, so much the better. Novels are there to reflect the truth in what they see, as well as to entertain.
Can feminism encompass comic heroines?
There are so many male comic heroes. Take Bertie Wooster, from P. G. Wodehouse -- we don't take him as a symbol as a state of manhood. We've got to be able to have comic heroines without being so terribly anxious about what it says. We're not equal if we're not allowed to laugh at ourselves.. Maybe it's to do with confidence, since being able to laugh at yourself is a mark of it.
The book is dedicated to your mum, "for not being like Bridget's." What piece of advice might you give to mothers around the world?
I think when your daughter says, "I have to go now, Mum," not to bring up seventeen irrelevant things. The only thing I sometimes pinch off my mum is her turn of phrase. She did say to the [condescending] tax man, "Listen can you make good brioche?" -- Ashton Applewhite
-- USA Today
"Bridget Jones is channeling something so universal and (horrifyingly) familiar that readers will giggle and sigh with collective delight."
"Hilarious but poignant."
-- The Washington Post
"Bridget's voice is dead-on . . . will cause readers to drop the book, grope frantically for the phone, and read it out loud to their best girlfriends."
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer
"This juicy diary tells the truth with a verve as appealing to men on Mars as it is to Venusian women. A."
-- Entertainment Weekly
"Newspaper columnist Fielding's first effort, a bestseller in Britain, lives up to the hype: This year in the life of a single women is closely observed and laugh-out-loud funny . . . Fielding's diarist raises prickly insecurities to an art form, turns bad men into good anecdotes, and shows that it is possible to have both a keen eye for irony and a generous heart."
-- Kirkus Reviews
"Even men will laugh."
-- Salman Rushdie
"Good-bye Rules Girls, hello Singletons . . . Endearingly engaging."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"Fielding . . . has rummaged all too knowingly through the bedrooms, closets, hearts and minds of women everywhere."
- At one point Bridget realizes that she's been on a diet for so many years that "the idea that you might actually need calories to survive has been completely wiped out of my consciousness." Yet one of her greatest assets is that she recognizes that this eternal quest for self-improvement is doomed and silly. How does the media influence women's self-images? Why do women collaborate so energetically in the process? When Bridget decides she's simply not up to the struggle and is going to stay home in an egg-spotted sweater, it is a victory or a defeat?
- Was the book as satisfying to read as a conventionally structured novel? How did the diary form affect your impression of Bridget Jones's Diary ? Does it make you want to keep one, and if so, why?
- What do you think Bridget looks like? Why does Fielding never describe her? Given the frequent references to shagging, why are there no steamy sex scenes either?
- "We women are only vulnerable because we are a pioneer generation daring to refuse to compromise in love and relying on our own economic power. In twenty years' time men won't even dare start with fuckwittage because we will just laugh in their faces," bellows Sharon early in the story. What purpose does Sharon's character serve? Do you think she's got a point? How do you think Bridget's daughter's story might differ from her mother's?
- At one point Bridget describes her mother as having been infected with "Having It All Syndrome." Does Bridget herself have a closet case of the same affliction? (She does, after all, have an affair with a her glamorous boss in publishing and a knack for TV production.) How important is professional achievement to the Bridgets of the world?
- On the one hand, Bridget's mother gets her daughter the job in television and is a constant in her daughter's life; on the other hand, she's impossibly self-centered, endlessly critical, and an object of some competition. "Bloody Mum," Bridget groans at one point, "how come she gets to be the irresistible sex goddess?" Is Bridget's mother a negative or positive influence on Bridget? How has she shaped her daughter?
- "We're not lonely. We have extended families in the form of networks of friends," says Tom, joining Sharon in deploring others' "arrogant hand-wringing about single life." Are these "urban families" an acceptable alternative to traditional family units? Are they helping to move society towards Fielding's objective, an unbiased acceptance of different ways of life?
- Bridget's world is unrelentingly self-centered. Is this problematic? If not, is Bridget rescued by her wit and lack of self-pity, by the fact that she does take responsibility for herself, or by something else entirely?
- Is the attraction between Mark Darcy and Bridget credible? Why isn't he too "safe" for her? Why isn't she too scatterbrained for him? Is it satisfying or clichéd when he literally carries her off to bed?
- How much of Bridget's identity lies in the quest for a decent relationship? Do you think marriage would change her?
A big Jane Austen fan, Helen Fielding cheerfully admits she "pillaged her plot" from Pride and Prejudice. She's modeling the sequel on Persuasion -- how about reading it in preparation?
On Wednesday, June 10th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Helen Fielding to discuss BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY.
Moderator: Welcome, Helen Fielding! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy itinerary to join us online this evening. How are you doing tonight?
Helen Fielding: We are in high spirits, in more sense than one. We just found out that we hit the New York Times bestseller list, and we just came from the Rainbow Room celebrating. It is great to be here.
Joyce Avery from New Orleans, LA: I'm sure you've been asked this one a hundred times -- how close is Helen Fielding to Bridget Jones? Do you think, in another universe, you'd be friends with Bridget?
Helen Fielding: Of course I am not Bridget Jones. I never drink, I never smoke, and I am a virgin.
Kate from New York: I understand that the column on which BJ is based was originally published in the Independent newspaper, though you recently moved to the Telegraph. The Telegraph has all your columns archived on the Internet, so one can follow it from where you picked up there, but the Independent doesn't. Could you give us a quick summary of what happens to Bridget between the end of the book and the weekend in Paris with Mark Darcy (which is where the Telegraph columns begin)?
Helen Fielding: Well, lots of things. I will give you highlights. She goes to Bangkok on holiday and meets this gorgeous stranger, Jed. Unaccountably, all of their possessions are stolen. Jed comes to the rescue and gives them tickets, money, and even a little bag. At the airport, Bridget is stopped. The lining of the bag is stuffed with cocaine. She is put in a Bangkok jail, and who should rescue her but Mark Darcy.
Elizabeth from Albany, NY: I loved your book. I read it last year in England. Why so long for it to come to the States?
Helen Fielding: So glad you liked the book. I don't know why so long. But it was ages before New York publishers were interested. Then one week they suddenly all got interested at once. And what finally clinched the deal with Viking was that my editor, Tom Dorman, sent me a pair of Walford Velvet tights, and she knew that Bridget had such trouble with tights. The real clincher was that they were in a size small.
Karen from Chicago, IL: Helen, I loved the book and am an avid follower of your weekly column at the Telegraph. However, being in the U.S. I've wondered if somehow I've missed what happened from the end of the book to the time when the Telegraph columns pick up. In other words, why happened to Bridget and Mark? Why did they break up before? P.S. See you at the book signing in Chicago.
Helen Fielding: Hurrah! At least I know one person will come. The thing is the columns are not exactly the same as the book. They were behind the book. So it took a long time for Mark and Bridget to get together. In the sequel, which I hope to finish this year, you see Mark and Bridget starting off together, falling on from the end of the book and then find out what exactly happened.
Suki Mitchell from Bradenton, FL: How difficult was it to translate this into something that is universal? Did you have to change anything in the American version (other than listing her weight in pounds as opposed to kilos)?
Helen Fielding: We changed very little, apart from the potatoes. The thing that has surprised and delighted me is how universal Bridget's feelings seem to be. I think the feeling of trying to be perfect in so many areas; from the gym to the board meeting to cooking a superb dinner for 12 without smudging your mascara, then ending up when the guests arrive in your underwear with wet hair and one foot in a mashed potato seem to be universal.
Girl Power from Girl Power: Hey! Do you think Bridget can replace Ginger Spice? She'd be perfect.
Helen Fielding: I hope you are not suggesting that I am about to break up.
Heather MacIntosh from Princeton, NJ: I've read that you said Gwyneth Paltrow is definitely not Bridget! Why do you feel that way? Can I make a casting suggestion -- Minnie Driver! Love her. Anyway, how involved will you be in the making and casting of this movie?
Helen Fielding: I never said that about Gwyneth Paltrow. She is very lovely but a little bit on the thin and young side for Bridget. The other day I saw a girl working out in the gym, reading a magazine for a really quite long time without making any attempt to use the equipment. She will be my perfect Bridget.
Skye from Las Vegas, NV: Ms. Fielding, like many readers of Bridget, I couldn't put her down and was wanting more.... Why is it, do you think, that so many of us love and relate to Bridget? After all, some could make the argument she is borderline alcoholic, a chain-smoker at best, and her judgment is often clouded by her live-in-the-moment lifestyle.
Helen Fielding: Maybe because she is fictional. She can admit to terrible things that go on a bit in lots of our lives but we would never dream of admitting to. Maybe it is quite nice to realize you can be human, but still quite lovable.
Jennifer from Binghamton, NY: What are Emmenthal cheese slices, and what is a Milk Tray? Just wondering...
Helen Fielding: I cannot believe you have not experienced Milk Tray. They are delicious, milky, almondy, chocolate selections made by Cadbury, and the real beauty is that I always believe they contain no calories whatsoever. Emmenthal cheese slices are Swiss cheese sliced into delicious slices. Again I believe they are calorie free, despite what it says on the packet.
Anna Maria from Athens, GA: I saw you on the "Today" show, and you mentioned that Singletons and Smug Marrieds have become part of the language in Great Britain. How about "fuckwittage"? Is that a word that was used before your book came out? When does one use this epithet? And what exactly does it mean?
Helen Fielding: "Emotional fuckwittage" is an expression coined by one of my friends on the night when her boyfriend stood her up for relationship counseling. I hope that gives you an idea of what it means.
Jose from Bellingham, WA: How would you contrast and compare your audiences in England and in the States?
Helen Fielding: Initially, people said they would not like Bridget here in America, because everyone was so positive. But the response from women in the offices that I have been to and readings has been fantastic. I see women in New York looking so hairdoed and beautifully suited and imported looking and yet so worried, and I wonder if maybe they too took 40 minutes to find a pair of tights that was not tied into a knot, full of holes, or with a crotch six inches below where it should be, that very morning.
Ann from Minneapolis, MN: Since much of the point of the story is the fact that Bridget is rapidly approaching her "sell-by" date, it is my opinion that no actress under the age of 32 should even be considered for the part (and that is still several years too young). Do you have any say in who is cast as Bridget, and do you know if the producers are taking into consideration this important part of the story -- or will they do the usual and cast some sweet young thing?
Helen Fielding: I couldn't agree with you more. And obviously I will be the iron woman and poised and cool ice queen and force everyone to listen to my marvelous opinions on the matter.
Tim McKew from Dover, NH: Why is Bridget so abstemious? She needs to enjoy life a little!
Helen Fielding: Tim! You are right. She really must start to loosen up and maybe drink a little more.
Steve Jenkins from Towson, MD: Joanna Trollope, Nick Hornby and Martin Amis are all mentioned in this book. Since the literary circle in England is relatively small, I'm wondering if these authors are friends of yours? Could you also remind me which Martin Amis novel is it that has that bit about cigarette addiction?
Helen Fielding: It was THE INFORMATION. I met Martin Amis and Joanna Trollope once, and they were very nice. Nick Hornby is an old friend. We met before either of us had written a book. And now we find it all quite surreal.
Pekoe from Melbourne, FL: Greetings, Helen! Many thanks for the wonderful book, especially since you landed on my side in an argument with a boyfriend about blow-dryers.... I really didn't hear him knock one night! I hope your next work will explain why we buy 15 shades of red nail polish. I'd like the answer myself. Cheers and congratulations! P.S. Cadbury chocolate has calories? Are you sure?
Helen Fielding: Surely not, what a horrible idea, but I am so pleased that you loved the book. Thank you!
Jonas from Chicago, IL: How did you get started writing BRIDGET JONES? Having written it for so long, isn't Bridget real to you now? I loved the book and consider Bridget my soul sister -- she certainly is real to me.
Helen Fielding: Hurrah! She is my soul sister too. I was asked to write a column for the newspaper I worked for as myself, but I thought that was too exposing and embarrassing, so I made up an exaggerated character, and now everyone thinks she is me anyway. Which is worse.
Samantha Schecter from Fairway, KS: Have you seen "Ally McBeal" yet? All these comparisons between your book and her show have been made, and I'm just wondering what you think about it. Also, do you think these pop culture comparisons demean the literary worth of your book?
Helen Fielding: I saw one episode of "Ally" and loved it. But I think she is a bit too thin for Bridget. Of course, pop culture comparisons deeply offend me. In Italy, they said it was a transcendental study of existential despair and very profound, and only the Italians understand this.
Gavin from Hartford, CT: If you were to choose your most-loved book, which would it be and why?
Helen Fielding: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen because a) Loved Mr. Darcy b) love Jane c) Stole plot for BRIDGET JONES d)Love Mr. Darcy.
Evelyn from Oklahoma: Wish you were coming to the Southwest. We never get to meet an author.... It's like we sit around listening to Garth Brooks all the time! Loved your book. But many of us are eager to know about the film.... Mark Darcy...any chance that Colin Firth will take it? After all, he is Darcy.
Helen Fielding: Wish I was coming too. Do they have cowboys there? Saw Colin Firth at a party, and he agreed to keep the next three years free for the film. Stop, I think. Stop.
Danny Garcia from Riverhead, NY: Who would Bridget rather date: Nick Hornby, Martin Amis or Will Self?
Helen Fielding: Knowing Bridget, she would probably choose Will Self because he does not like her.
William from Brooklyn, NY: Are you afraid of being typecast? Do you see yourself branching out and writing other, non-Bridget books?
Helen Fielding: Actually, my first novel was set in a refugee camp in the Sudan. Unfortunately, however, nobody bought that one.
Liza Lee from Framingham, MA: Will these entries continue as a weekly newspaper column? Will it ever be picked up in the United States?
Helen Fielding: Yes, in the Telegraph in London and well maybe, I hope so, here in the States...
Brigitte from San Jose, CA: Does it make you uncomfortable to be defined as a voice for young women? Does it annoy you when people mistake you and your views for Bridget?
Helen Fielding: It annoyed me the time that Bridget got 13 Valentine cards and I only got one.
Ann from Minneapolis, MN: Do you love Mr. Darcy from P&P, or Colin Firth's version of him from the BBC/A&E production?
Helen Fielding: I interviewed Colin Firth in Rome. I was pretending to be Bridget, and he was pretending to be Mr. Darcy. We ended up in front of the statue of Moses, who we both agreed was clearly gay, murmuring Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy. It was weird but strangely delicious.
Mike from New York City: Do you have a boyfriend? Do you ever meet guys online? Want to go out some time?
Helen Fielding: Ding Dong! Hey Mike.
Marlene from Yardley, PA: Who are your literary influences? Whom do you like to read?
Helen Fielding: Jane Austen, Armistead Maupin, and Nick Hornby.
Carol from Brownsville, TX: I laughed out loud while reading this book. Where do you get your ideas from -- some of the thoughts Bridget has and the things Bridget does seem to right on.
Helen Fielding: I get the ideas either from myself or what I see around me, or often friends give me ideas. The other day I was walking to work in a miniskirt and leather coat. I realized the skirt had ridden up to my waist. Naturally I pulled it down, but I thought had I been Bridget, I would not have realized and would have gone to work, straight into a meeting, taken off my coat and stood there without a skirt. And that is kind of how she works, really.
Moderator: Congratulations on the success of BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, Helen Fielding. We are pleased we were able to celebrate with you. Do you have any final words of wisdom for our online visitors?
Helen Fielding: I love Barnes & Noble and have a crush on several of their New York salesmen. Perhaps a warm heart and a sense of humor ought to count for as much as a bottom like two billiard balls.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you haven't read this book-- it's a must-- it's a classic early version of Chick Flick. This is an outrageously funny book and yet sincere in it's look at the inside view of a gal with a few extra lbs and being single in the 90's. Still a national best seller. It is so much fun for anyone who tries to lose weight or is on a diet (isn't that all of us) in the course of the book she loses 72 lbs and gains 74 -- hilarious or is it? A droll sense of humor, a strong emphasis on how we look and how we relate to men-- will give any female reader much to think about and chuckle about too. Do you want to lose 7 lbs, stop smoking and develop inner poise-- well see how Bridget does or doesn't do all of that in Bridget Jones diary.Fast summer read-- great airplane reading, fun reading for a mom who has to read in short breaks between kids, food, family and chaos! Good re-reading too....keep it at the summer house for guests.
I didn't go in with high expectations, but it was charming, cute, real and HILARIOUS! All in all, it was worth my time!
I really loved the movie Bridget Jones's Diary, so I was curious about the book. I read it over the course of 2 days and I loved it! There were several times throughout the book I busted out laughing. Of course, I am the target demographic (early 30's, single), so I could relate to a lot of what Bridget faced in the book. That's not to say women of most any age couldn't enjoy the read. I think if you liked the movie, you will like the book. And while some of the same scenarios happen in the movie as the book, they are generally in a totally different context. I'd go so far as to say the movie was "inspired by" the book rather than scripted from the book. If I'm ever feeling down-n-out, this will be my go to book. The reason I gave it 4 stars istead of 5 is that I believe $12.99 is too much to pay for 1) an eBook 2) a book which is a total of 205 pages and 3) has been around for 11 years.
This book is wonderful. If you find that you prefer classics to remain classics (the storyline is based on Jane Austen's 'Pride and Predjudice') then this book is perhaps not for you, but it is a book for anyone who loves to laugh. Bridget is the ultimate heroine and I find that any modern woman can relate to at least one of her excursions and revel in the humility and hilarity of them. Men too can also enjoy 'Bridget' as can teenagers (I know as I happen to be one), but best of all, no matter how many times you read this, you will still find it hilarious!
Unusual but enjoyable. Very funny in parts and in others, not so much. Bridget obsesses about everything in life. There were times when I found the repetition somewhat overdone. Some foul language and sexual situation. Adult content and theme. Overall, a nice, rather light read.
a great escape!
The book was very British or whatever. Some parts/phrases were hard to understand. But it had some funny parts. Her life is one big 'FML' moment.
This was a good read, although I did enjoy the movie a bit more. Bridget Jones is very funny; I loved how she tracked EVERYTHING in her diary.. especially how she lost 72lbs and gained 74 throughout the whole year. All in all, the book had some funny moments, but others that just made me roll my eyes; like Bridgets mother becomming a criminal. C+
I could not stop laughing! and sadly alot of it is relatable.
I have never said this before...I thught the movie was better.
fluffy cotton candy for the brain. Enjoyable, but gone before you know it.
A fun read.
I had to read this book because I absolutely LOVE the movie. This is one case where the movie is actually better than the book. The journal entry style of writing is cute at first but then became a bit tedious towards the end. Good or bad I still had to read it but I think this one will probably sit on my book shelf for a long time.
I have always loved the movie and now I loved the book!
After having seen the movie (sadly without even knowing it was a book at the time) and hearing that the book came highly recommended, I picked this up with high hopes. What I ended up finding was a story that I knew all too well but which didn't come across in the book as more interesting. I had a hard time identifying with Bridget, understanding why she liked Daniel and understanding why she didn't like Mark. Daniel seemed especially horrible and at worst, Mark seemed to be the victim of her snap judgment and then seemed a genuinely Nice Guy (TM) throughout the rest of the book. The book failed to grab my attention or elicit any enthusiasm for the main characters and it was only because I forced myself to do that I managed to finish it. That said, it isn't a horrible book, merely one which seemed to lack the normal character spark that would drive me to adore the main character.
This is exactly the kind of woman I am very glad not to be. She goes along with everything she hates. Like the parties of the Smug Marrieds where she knows she¿ll be put through hell. She is mostly put through hell because she seems to lack the ability to tell people off. She thinks about shocking things to say but she doesn¿t say them. If she would, she would suffer far less. She worries about what people think so much that she can¿t form her own opinions. She constantly puts herself in the 3rd person and thinks from the outside viewpoint. It¿s women like this with no self-esteem that can¿t go out without makeup on because they are convinced they are not good enough as they are. I¿m so glad this isn¿t me.It was funny to read though.
Why has this been such a popular book? Is it because there it contains lots of drama and sex and excitement?Well, that may have something to do with it. But I think that the main reason "Bridget Jones' Diary" has been such a popular book is that the main character struggles with feelings that are extremely familiar to most of us - mainly: a profound insecurity and sense of inadequacy.Bridge Jones struggles with her weight. Her love life. Her sense of self. Her direction in life.What woman today can't emphathise with those struggles?The book is written in a light, humorous, and for-the-most-part convincing style. There were a few moments when the constraints of the "diary" format somewhat broke down for me... For instance, would she really pause in the middle of soup boiling over to write down "my soup is boiling over"? There were a few instances like that where - as a diarist - I highly doubted she would have stopped to write down what was happening at that particular moment.However, there weren't many of those moments. All and all, I applaud the author for creating a highly believable and sympathetic character in spite of all the character's faults and mistakes. Perhaps the faults and mistakes are what make her so sympathetic to begin with.As a side note: I initially read this book because I was told that it was more or less a remake of "Pride and Prejudice" (a book I happen to love). While I did enjoy this book - it had a maximum of two thigns in common with "P&P". One, it had a character in it named Darcy. Two, its main character was a female. ... So, in short, don't read this book because you think it's going to be another "Pride and Prejudice".
I LOVED this book. Bridget Jones is a very likeable heroine, full of imperfections. She is relateable to anyone struggling to find their own way in the dating world wile being surrounded by Smug Marrieds. This book is laugh-out loud funny and impossible to put down. I have read and re-read this book many times.
Pretty good book. Funny but not life changing. A good diversion when you're sick of trying to read all the books you're supposed to be reading.
Funny, sometimes screamingly funny, even though the obsession with fat bit really got annoying after awhile. Still, I love the shortcut diary style and I love the selfloathing humour and I love the ridiculousness. The sequel made me cry it was so funny.
Six out of ten.
Bridget Jones is a typical neurotic woman - unhappy with love, life and her parents. Very funny in places (best when it's dealing with every day life as the plot gets more convoluted the less funny it is), it is a quick and trashy read.
Somehow I missed that this was actually a book, written as a diary; I formerly was only aware of it as a movie. I saw the movie years ago, probably not long after it was released. I watched the movie again fall of 2008, even saw the sequel. First time through the film I know I understood very little of what was said. Last year when I watched it I understood almost all of it, having lived here for a year.I only decided to read the book because I saw it on a list of 'Have you read' books recently. Really, I am still not sure how it became a part of the list. There was nothing especially special about the book. It appears to follow along much as the movie did. Of course I am going to have to rewatch the movie at some point, I guess, to determine if I am recalling that correctly. While it wasn't a life-changing book for me to read I will probalby also read the sequel so that I can say that I read both books and saw both films.
This is one of my favourite books ever. I read it at least once a year and never get bored with it.Bridget has me in stitches with her hilarious antics every single time I read it. She is just so easy to love and I find myself sympathising with her, even though she brings a lot of her problems on herself. I like the relationships she has with her friends (Shazzer is my favourite!) and how they are always there for her. And who could forget Mark Darcy? The first time I read the book, he annoyed me, but he's grown on me the more I read it and I think he is the perfect man for Bridget. All in all, it is an hilarious book that I would (and do) recommend to anyone.
A lot funnier than I expected it to be....the 'throwing matches' joke was a particular highlight. I learned some time after reading it that it nakedly bases itself on Pride and Prejudice - this completely eluded me as I read this one first! May read the follow-up one day, though oddly have no strong urge to do so.
One of my favorite books to recommend and re-read. The muse for my (now dead) blog-- Bridget has taught me to have self-pity in a nice, honest, humorous way. Whenever I need a good cackle, this book is here for me.