Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding is the first book that I adored and abhorred in almost equal measures. I finished the novel yesterday, but was in a fix as to how to review a novel, which has left me confused about my own feelings. I was unable to recollect the first phrase that made Bridget Jones’s Diary likeable and yet to understand the last word that made me dislike it.
Well, I think, if you spend three days in the chaotic world of Bridget Jones, then this confusion is bound to happen. The novel is nothing but a string of paradoxes, a mirror image of its protagonist. Bridget Jones is fat yet attractive, reticent yet flirty, obsessed about food and yet an abominable cook. She is a woman who wants to be the girlfriend of her cool Boss Daniel Cleaver, wishes to seduce him with her intelligence and looks, and yet is lazy enough to dress up properly for the office, or even read newspapers to keep herself informed about current events, a top priority as a reporter.
Well, to put facts rather bluntly, Bridget Jones is an insecure woman in her thirties, who is obsessed with counting calories, pounds and fat units, spending every minute of her life making stupid entries in her Diary. And, to tell you the truth, I was baffled in the first chapter itself, the month of January in Bridget Jones’s Diary to be precise, to find that instead of any story or well defined plot, Fielding just gave dates and reminders of weight obsessed Bridget, with exact number of cigarettes she smoked or the drinks she consumed.
I thought, I had made a grave mistake in choosing this novel, written in not-so-pleasant sms lingo. I could hardly digest Bridget’s shameless flirting with her Boss, while calling all the men bastards, as they rarely think beyond body pleasures. Hah! it was the height of hypocrisy and cynicism. I was about to put down the novel, despising it as the meanderings of a woman well past her youth. But, the stubborn reader in me persisted and somehow I endured the boring January and the laid-back February, swallowing all the hurts hurled on singletons in their thirties.
However, as soon as March began, I found an instant connection with Bridget. Her insecurities about dying a single old woman, and yet her euphoria to celebrate her Birthday in style impressed me. Her lavish preparations for a dinner party for her friends, that turned out to be a real disaster had me in splits and thereon I got really interested in this extra ordinary story about an overweight girl obsessed with her Casanova Boss, struggling to keep herself in perfect shape, mentally and physically. Fighting a futile battle with her rapidly increasing age and caustic remarks of relatives, friends and colleagues. And yet upbeat about her future, trying ever new theories to live life to its fullest. In short, a worthy ideal for any career oriented single woman.
I realized that Bridget is essentially a dreamer, who tries to count stars on a cloud laden sky, while walking on slippery wet lands, has a mighty fall, and yet the very next moment picks herself up and restarts the counting. In fact, her paradoxes make Bridget Jones’s Diary readable. Also, to my immense relief, the book picked up speed and soon Bridget was seen juggling with a bright new job, a hot boyfriend and a nice Barrister falling for her charms. So, in the end, the novel turned out to be much more than a mushy love story or pathetic rants of a focus less girl.
As you must have guessed by now, I liked Bridget as a character. Though, I could hardly say the same about the novel. Firstly, I did not really enjoy Fielding’s writing style. The impersonal diary entries were not at all sufficient to form a bond with me as a reader. I had to use all my imagination to mentally visualize Renee as the innocent Bridget and Hugh Grant as her sexy Boss, as depicted on the front page. So, in a way, had it not been for the enticing cover page, I would have given this novel a miss, after just a few pages.
Moreover, Bridget Jones’s Diary overflows with cliches, be it Feminist Sharon, Homo Tom, or Mark Darcy as the quintessential Knight in shining armor. And, as a result the story has to be carried on the frail shoulders of Bridget herself, with hardly any support from sub plots. The only other character that brought a smile on my face was Pam Jones, Bridget’s out going, date-happy mother. Though, in the last few pages, Mark Darcy did show promise of being a worthy hero, may be in the sequel ‘Edge of Reason’.
But despite some light moments, it was not easy for me to digest the grammatically incorrect, slang ridden off beat novel. And, as my confusion has mitigated, I would categorize Bridget Jones’s Diary as just an okay time pass, a novel you can perhaps enjoy while traveling, as a light read.
Title : Bridget Jones’s Diary
Author : Helen Fielding
Published by : Pan Macmillan
Edition : 2008 Omnibus (Paperback)
No. of Pages : 307