Bridget Jones's Diary

Yeah, I read pop culture sensation novels 10 years after they're popular -- that's just how I roll.

Actually, let's digress about the tricky notion of picking what book to read next. My main reading time these days is the 45-minutes each way I'm on the train going to and from work. (On average, that's 100 pages a day.) So a book has to be messenger bag friendly, doubly so if I'm carting my laptop around. I've got, for example, a copy of 1491 I'm itching to sink my teeth into. But it's a 450 page hardcover. No way I'm lugging that thing around. Bridget Jones's Diary, on the other hand, is a 260 page trade paperback (and further, printed on pretty thin paper, it seems). Bingo! Though, I did feel a bit funny reading BJD on the train, and not because it's girly or ten years out of vogue or anything. It's just that from a distance, the cover might seem to be some other sort of book, if you know what I mean.

Veering back towards the track, I'll mention that I started giving my reviews a 'grade' (ala, I suppose, Christgau via Entertainment Weekly) and BJD is decidedly hard to pin down. There's some good stuff in there. For example, I really got into the obsessive chronically of numbers of drinks drunk, cigarettes smoked, calories eaten, etc at the start of each day's diary entry, and especially the subtle variations thereon. And there are some funny set pieces (though some clunkers too -- much of Bridget's life is a little too sitcom-y for me). And the plot's pretty good, except that there we run into the rub that it's not really Helen Fielding's, is it? (And that's a point -- is it 'cheeky' or 'self-aware' of an author ripping off Jane Austin to reference both Clueless and Pride and Prejudice itself?)

Ultimately, I think the reliance on that plot might be the book's real Achilles' heel. Because... (and I'm about to drop a spoiler here, but surely you've seen the movie. Or seen Clueless. Or read Pride and Prejudice. Or seen Pride and Prejudice. Or, perhaps, seen Pride an Prejudice.) ... I think "now she's with the right man, even though she's hardly even spoken to him, so everything will be fine" worked better in 1813 than 1996.

FuzzyCo grade: B-