310 pages long.
GOB RATING: 6.4
First published by Picador in October 1996, the paperback was June 1997.
Helen Fielding's second novel was a smash hit. Asked to write a column about herself, she did not like the idea of that, instead she decided to use a character whom she had been trying to write a sitcom about. The story of Bridget Jones began as a newspaper column in The Independent through 1995. Letters of support and a suggestion from her publisher made Helen decide to turn it into a fully-fledged book.
Initially quiet in hardback it was the release of the softback that catapulted it to the top of the best-sellers with worldwide sales of over 4 million copies. Helen lives in London and Los Angeles.
Being a South Londoner myself, it is oddly great to read familiar names in books, especially books that are respected. I heard about the movie and the cries of brilliance directed to both film and book, but had not seen the book before the BBC's Big Read was held. The Big Read got the public to submit their favourite novel and from all the entries they produced a favourite 100 books list. In no particular order, just the most voted for novels. Bridget Jones's Diary was in there, and when looking for some of these books in the library I came across it. I am glad I did too.
Immensely funny in places and smilingly brilliant in others it is a very humorous look at the chaotic life of a slightly vain, slightly paranoid, independent, desperate to be coupled, thirty-something woman. Bridget not only relates to the women out there but Helen's characterization of many of Bridget's friends and associates are so recognizable I began to wonder if I actually knew many Bridget Jones' in my friends. If Helen's talent had not resided in writing she could easily have been a comedian in the vein of Billy Connelly or Ben Elton, as she clearly has the ability to express in words life's strangeness. Her perceptions of people and their inner thought are spot on.
Helen introduces us to Bridget at the beginning of the year and the book follows through the year, the chapters being each month. By the end of the book I had laughed with Bridget, sobbed with Bridget, been drunk with Bridget and felt humiliated with Bridget.
Bridget is human and such a plebe it is almost disgusting. I kept wondering throughout the book, was this pulled from her own life? Apparently it is based upon many of her friends and her observations of people. Bridget's little rescue brigade, her friends Sharon and Jude, are what everyone needs in life. Her best friend, Tom, is so realistic I can imagine him so vividly; but even he occasionally reverts to a blithering idiot when his own paranoias' and insecurities surface to undermine him.
There are lots of great things about this book, but one makes reading this a must-do...it is so easy and quick to read! The short entries are to the point and fantastically fast. Everyone who is remotely curious should give it a go, it will be over before it has begun, but well worth it.
The sequel - Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason was published in hardback by Picador in November 1999. It was published in paperback by Picador in June 2000. Bridget Jones's Diary has been made into a film by Working Title, which produced Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, starring Rene Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. After reading the book can you guess who played who?
Depth: 4, Readability:
9, Layout: 6,
GOB RATING: 6.4
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Last updated: 2nd June 2003