Bridget Jones is not a compelling diarist. It takes much too much work to get interested in this young woman’s everyday world; all too often a fine line like "although we have discovered our Inner Bitches, we have not yet unlocked them" (from January 4) is surrounded by just "fluff."The first five months of this fictional year --- 1995, perhaps? --- were a struggle for this reader. I noted several decent passages, some very good single lines ("If you are single the last thing you want is your best friend forming a functional relationship with somebody else," April 22) and a couple passages that demonstrated the author’s skills to full advantage. These last included a wonderful cocktail party scene, on April 18, wherein Bridget’s natural directness shines during an interchange amongst "an array of Poohs and Piggies" discussing "the ultimate vandalization of the cultural framework;" and Bridget’s reflections on how "completely weird" it is to spend an evening with someone with whom you are "supposed to have sex" after your "entire relationship so far has been based on the idea that one or other of us is supposed to be resisting having sex."(May 6) And there was plenty of evidence to suggest that our Ms. Jones was not just co-dependent ---as others have noted --- but very much an alcoholic. The final piece of evidence for that is on the last-page “summary” of her year: “Hangover-free days 114 (very good).” But through all this, this reader was prone to respond "So what?"It was not until the June passages that I actually began to care about Helen Fielding’s protagonist. On June 6 Bridget stays "home to work." Of course, no office work is accomplished, but Bridget’s rationalizations, and the juxtaposition of her concerns with a "scratchy nail" and her ruminations on the "dazzling" expectations that doom so many "thirty-something" relationships, are splendid. Unfortunately, Bridget’s alcoholism dooms her to disregard her "woman’s intuition that (Daniel) is having an affair," and it is not until the end of July that she faces --- in the flesh, literally --- this reality.As noted, Ms. Fielding does demonstrate superior writing intermittently. She has captured a lot of the angst of being single and getting older; trying to cope with "Singleton" life while your peers are raising --- and/or razing --- families, living with the incredibly vulnerable feeling of everyone scrutinizing your every move.But there is a lot of "fluff." As my wife said after I asked her for feedback on the first month of DIARY, "What is the point of this girl’s life?"As a weekly column, one can see how Bridget Jones captivated a nation. However, in full-length book form, there are too many rough --- or worse, empty --- spots to ignore. Perhaps the relationship with Mark will work. Better yet, perhaps it will not, and Bridget will bottom out, stumble into Alcoholics Anonymous --- better be a women’s meeting! --- and turn her life around. Regardless, for a first novel, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY is a very nice "second half" read. But I think a lot of men will not be willing to slog through the first five months to find the more accessible story.
Reviewed by JazzCog on January 21, 2011
Bridget Jones's Diary