Review of ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary (And Other Writing): 25th Anniversary Edition’ by Helen Fielding

I’d seen the film of Bridget Jones’s Diary a couple of times but never read the original book. Although I don’t generally read books categorised as ‘chick lit’, I think this book is considered a classic of the genre now and of course it’s another in the ‘funny diary’ tradition. Bridget Jones is Adrian Mole, if he were a 30-something woman from a posh background living a chaotic urban existence in the 90s. Considering that it was published 25 years ago, the book has not dated too badly, beyond a couple of terms that would be mildly derogatory now and some references to popular culture and technology.

The diary is a year in Bridget’s life. Her preoccupations are her single status, her weight, her exasperating mother, snooty colleagues and self-doubt. Every entry in the diary begins with how much she weighs, the number of calories consumed, cigarettes smoked, etc. The content very effectively captures the dilemmas of women who feel pressured into finding partners before it’s too late to have children, dieting to get the perfect figure but feeling worthless when they indulge, and pursuing impressive careers when they would rather watch TV and drink with their friends.

There is a strong Pride and Prejudice influence, as Helen Fielding was watching the BBC series at the time and it’s even mentioned in the diary. Daniel Cleaver, the boss that Bridget has an affair with, is of course Mr Wickham, while the brooding yet kind and intelligent Mark Darcy is… well, Mr Darcy. The book shows that little has changed in 200 years, as Bridget and her friends are conflicted – they feel like failures because they’re not part of what Bridget calls the ‘Smug Marrieds’, they know that blokes who mess them around shouldn’t be tolerated, yet they want to find romance.

This 25th anniversary edition has extra content which addresses the sexism evidenced in the diary and what Bridget would think now that perspectives have changed. There are other pieces, some by Helen and some by Bridget, which are about feminism, Princess Diana’s death, Brexit and lockdown. The transcript of Colin Firth’s interview with ‘Bridget’ is included and is quite funny. Helen also discusses how the book came about, the unexpected fame and cultural impact, but seems to avoid saying much about the film. By a strange coincidence, I’m the same age as Bridget is in the book, although our lives are not that similar.

In summary, don’t be put off by the knicker-covered design of this book. It really is worth a read. I didn’t love it but I know that it’s close to many readers’ hearts and the character of Bridget has a place in the collective conscience.

First published in 1996 by Picador. This edition, 2021.

13 thoughts on “Review of ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary (And Other Writing): 25th Anniversary Edition’ by Helen Fielding”

    1. It’s nice that the anniversary is being celebrated in this new edition 😊

    1. Ha ha, yes time flies ☺ I watched the film straight after reading the book and found that it’s quite different in some ways! Which I will discuss in a ‘film of the book’ post.

    1. I’ve only seen the 1st one. I think you would like the book, however you’ll find sideplots which weren’t in the film. Thanks πŸ™‚

  1. I heard that Fielding wrote this book with Colin Firth in mind for the Darcy part because of his playing the part in the P&P miniseries. The movie was cute, the book okay as well… Nothing I’d ever read twice or keep on my shelf!

    1. Yes I think that’s correct πŸ™‚ I wouldn’t read it twice either, I have seen the film maybe 3 times, it’s not a favourite.

  2. I feel like I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the movie, but that felt like enough. The book just might be a fun beach read, tho?

    1. Although the book has some funny moments, I didn’t feel that it was particularly light – the film is a bit ‘fluffier’ I think. Diaries are easy to pick up and put down though, so it probably would work as a beach read.

  3. Wow! It has been 25 years already?? Gossshhh I’m SOOOOOO OLD LOL I haven’t read this book too neither have I seen the film. Don’t think I will anytime soon for both. Great review, NS! πŸ™‚

    1. Ha ha yes everyone seems surprised! You’re not really missing out on the book and film, it’s not great literature. Thanks Jee!

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