18/09/2011

Bridget Jones's Diary (by Helen Fielding)

I'm not sure that I would ever have picked up this book by Helen Fielding, if it had not been for having seen the film 'Bridget Jones's Diary' last year. I quite enjoyed it, and had vaguely wondered what the original novel would be like. So when I saw it for a euro on a church bookstall, it was the work of a moment to decide to buy it.

Written in diary form, 'Bridget Jones's Diary' was first published in 1996 although it does not seem particularly dated. It is, unsurprisingly, written entirely in diary (or journal) format. It begins with a long list of New Year's Resolutions made by Bridget, which include: not smoking, eating more healthfully, losing weight, starting a long-term relationship, not fancying her boss.. and a many more.

Bridget is a likeable young woman whom we get to know fairly intimately during the year of journal entries that follow. She's rather obsessed with her weight - which is not excessive anyway - but keeps failing in her resolutions, in sometimes dramatic ways. She has some good friends who regularly offer her advice and solace when things go wrong, and an appalling mother who - one assumes - must have helped to make her the way she is.

It's evidently exaggerated with extreme caricatures of situations, and of the minor characters; it shows, perhaps, something of the struggle of a young woman who wants to live up to glossy TV images but has little will-power or real motivation.

I actually found Bridget's lifestyle of boozing, smoking, overeating and sleeping around to be so alien to my experience, even in my twenties, that it was hard to keep focussed sometimes - but perhaps there are people for whom it would be realistic, albeit caricatured.

The writing is good, and the style pacy, but there's not really much plot and I'm not entirely sure how it became such an international best-seller. I think it was worth reading, but it's not a book I plan to re-read regularly - if anything I slightly preferred the film, which is unusual for me!

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 18th September 2011

No comments: