Just to make it clear, I’m the kind of person who jumps from Young-Adult fiction to Science-fiction to Dystopia every now and then. One might say all my favourite books have a fantasy element, which is essentially true, and the precise reason why I have never been able to get a hang of satire. When I read a book, I need to relate with the character and not the situation. Satire is the exact opposite. You might see the situation in everyday life but in no way would react the way the character reacted. You may think of it, but not do it. Personally, I cannot stand second-hand embarrassment. I just hold my head reading it over and over and going “Why? Why would you say that? Why would you do that? Why would you behave like that?” This book had me cringing and then laughing out loud so much that people in my bus were giving me the awkward stares.
Any reader might notice the obvious parallels drawn to another Classic novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ since the author, Helen Fielding, loved the book and based her novel loosely on the masterpiece. From the very beginning, and personally one of my favourite parts where Bridget first encounters Mark Darcy, at Una and Geoffrey Alconbury’s New Year’s Day turkey curry buffet, she notes the parallel. Instead of mingling happily, he stands with his back to the room, scrutinizing the Alconburys’ bookshelves: “It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party.” As bad, she thinks, as being called Heathcliff and spending your evening in the garden “shouting ‘Cathy’ and banging your head against a tree”. Hilarious and the exact moment I realized this book was going to be side-splitting.
Much like Elizabeth Bennett, Bridget is faced by mockery and derision for their respective attitudes from the society. Elizabeth was scorned for her smart-assness (if I may say so) while Bridget was for her ineptitude. At the root of both was the fact that they were single ladies. Bridget goes from confident to unsure in a matter of seconds but like almost everyone else, her decisions are majorly influenced by her close friends’ advices.
Some things she says are a pure gold-mine of life advice like- “Can officially confirm that the way to a man’s heart these days is not through beauty, food, sex, or alluringness of character, but merely the ability to seem not very interested in him.” and “It is proved by surveys that happiness does not come from love, wealth, or power but the pursuit of attainable goals.” While other times she tell you about the woes of being a women because of all the pruning and prepping that goes into us being ‘presentable’ by society standards. She falls into embarrassing situations like they are her personal favorite which thankfully for us means more laughter.
Her friends were a great supporting cast, with all their problems affecting Bridget to act the way she did at various points. Daniel, her love interest and boss, was what Bridget amazingly noted, an emotional fuckwit and she definitely didn’t need any of that. Mark Darcy, true to his name, was charming and a little vain. The best parallel between Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’s Diary probably was the fact that both these Darcys (proud, superior men whom every girl would like to nab) fell for our protagonists, the young women who fail to flatter them. “Bridget, all the other girls I know are so lacquered over,” says MD, plaintively. The very thing that makes the reader love her – the range of her incompetence – makes him love her, too. However, like PNP again, the only character I couldn’t stand was the mother.
Maybe it is the writing style where Bridget in her diary, very conveniently skips all the ‘The’s and ‘I’s but there is a relatable quality with her script that makes it a very easy read. Plus a book that takes place over a period of time and represents that passage is always interesting. Let’s end this in true Bridget fashion-
No of good characters 10, no of bad characters 4, no of intolerable characters 1, no of times read 1, hours taken 14, funny moments too many, chick-lit moments at least 20, fantastic quotes 9, no of times I had to put the book down and laugh 4
All said and done, one can only be sure about what they liked in a book after they’ve read it but this is one you definitely should try.
Added 11th March 2015