In a movie made legendary by Renee Zellweger in 2001, Helen Fielding‘s portrayal of the thirty-something, pseudo-feminist, chain-smoking, ideal-toting ‘Bridget Jones’ was brought to life. I caught glimpses of the movie throughout my childhood, when passing through the cable channels, or camping out in my brother’s room, but I only managed to watch the whole thing in one go a few years ago. Needless to say, it was a delight. Inspired, I recently purchased the book the movie was based on – in accordance with my rule that the books are always better than the movies – and I was not disappointed.
A young professional who postponed marriage to pursue her career, Bridget finds herself unsatisfied. Her career has refused to take off, her thighs now resemble tree trunks, and suitors are no longer begging for her time. Life seems to have passed her by, and all the men she meets – or her charming ranting feminist/tragic female friends meet – are unworthy scumbags. Indeed, there will come a time when women keep men as pets because they are clearly inferior beings.
For one year of messy, erratic, badly-punctuated diary entries we get to follow the charming (and sometimes delirious) Bridget as she dutifully records her daily dose of calories, alcohol units, cigarettes, and other very, very important details to motivate herself into reaching her ultimate goal: a zero-cellulite, stunningly bronze goddess who reads fancy books and can cook like all those little kids on Master Chef Junior.
All in all, the book is a lighthearted and humorous read. It’s sure to give you a few laughs and make you fall in love with the utterly imperfect and yet absolutely wonderful character. For that is what makes Bridget Jones so perfect. She is flawed. She is chubby. She is not one of those fancy-pants intellectuals. She has insecurities. But despite it all – despite many failed relationships, failed attempts to schmooze at parties, failed attempts to act polite in public, she tries. She gets back up on her feet and gives it a go. What’s best, she’s human like us – not some divinely angelic impossible-to-relate-to character. Just like the devil in all of us, she feels pride, arrogance, self-righteousness.
Fielding has created a beautifully balanced and utterly human woman that reminds us that life can throw us topsy turvy, and it can be a joyride.
Note: There is some suggestive phrasing present in the novel. Reader discretion is advised for children.