Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bridget Jones's Diary

I finally finished this book a few days ago. Stephanie at Chick Lit Club suggested it for me back in September.

I was supposed to like this. I know enough about chick lit to know that Fielding's book is a basic text. Bridget created some themes and motifs that show up in nearly every work of the genre. Bridget is a fish out of water who does not feel at home at work, with her family, or in an intimate relationship. Her only salvation is her friends. They are her chosen family.

Also, Bridget is on a quest. She wants to love and be loved, to have a career where she is fulfilled, and to be comfortable in her own skin. She imagines she can accomplish these things by losing weight, quitting smoking, learning to cook, and generally turning herself into the kind of woman she believes men will find desirable.

She is wrong, of course, and that is what saves Bridget from being a caricature. She is our Gilgamesh- one of the first characters to exemplify the elements of chick lit, and an archetype who has a presence in other works of the genre.

That's why I say I was supposed to like Bridget Jones's Diary. I am a student of women's books, and this is an important part of that canon. I will probably revisit this book at some point, but this time it was a struggle to get through. I kept wanting Bridget to see how worthwhile she was and stop making herself vulnerable for the wrong people (like her boss Daniel, if you've read the book).

What about you? What was the last popular book that you found challenging? Is there more to Bridget Jones than I can see?


  1. The last popular book I found challenging was The Leftovers. I loved Tom Perrotta's previous characters who were quirky and striving for something. In The Leftovers, I expected his same subtle humor, and it was missing. The characters all came across mildly depressed and there was very little in them to "grab onto". (Not chick lit, I know, but the last one that was a challenge).

    I loved Bridget Jones. Her voice was so engaging, and I identified with her constant effort to make changes in her life, and the struggle to stick with that desire. I read it when it first came out, and I wonder if that influenced my reaction (and yours), because it was very fresh at the time.

  2. Hi Cathryn,

    Thanks for your comments! Yes, I think I would have felt differently reading Bridget when she was fresh and there weren't a lot of popular books with struggling women. I also found out the book started as a newspaper feature. It would be a totally different feel as a short, weekly fix instead of a whole novel.