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Book(s): Bridget Jones’s Diary and Edge of Reason

April 3, 2011
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I somehow can’t believe that I hadn’t read Bridget Jones’s Diary before this (and actually I suspect that I have, and have just forgotten, since parts of it felt very familiar and not from the movie), but I needed some not-too-stupid mind candy and Bridget Jones was it.

It appears that this is one of the rare cases where the movie is just as much fun as the book. I really did enjoy the movie, and I enjoyed the book. Diary, that is. I really didn’t like The Edge of Reason, but I’ll get into that later.

Bridget Jones is a nice, smart, somewhat neurotic but definitely funny young woman in her mid-30s. Obsessed with her weight and the number of cigarettes she’s consumed in a day, she also manages to get completely worked up over fling with her boss, and suffers constant nagging from her mother and mother’s friends about her state of singledom. Also, she drinks a lot. Also, has completely unhealthy eating habits (see above: obsessed with weight. More on this in a minute.)

What I liked: well, obviously this is a fun, silly book. Bridget manages to get herself into all manner of horrifying social situations, which, being just outside the realm of “that could happen to me!” were very satisfyingly cringe-worthy. It must also be noted that for all her self-doubt, she manages situations fairly well, quitting her job when her boss dumps her, and coming up with witty repartee at the drop of a hat (except, of course, when she doesn’t.) I’ve always sort of put off reading this because as a general rule I don’t like chick-lit, but I’ve been told this was better than most, and it was. Amusingly written and very funny situations, and of course Bridget herself is great fun.

What I didn’t like: Bridget’s overwhelming obsession with her weight. I could understand (somewhat) if she had something to worry about, but come on, the girl tops out at 131 pounds. Unless she’s under 5 ft tall, I am not buying it. I know that’s the point — it’s stupid to obsess over your weight when you’ve nothing to worry about, but I found that tiresome, and even if she’s a fictional character I wanted to shake her and say, “Ten pounds one way or the other makes no difference at all to your general state of happiness!” Anyway.

Other than that, I liked most of the book, actually. I thought it was fun, light, silly, and quite funny in parts. I also loved both Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy, although am not quite sure how Mark Darcy decided he liked Bridget when most of the time she was being awful to him.But whatever.

And Bridget’s mom is priceless. She might be my favorite character of them all.

The Edge of Reason, however, I didn’t love. I liked the Bridget/Mark storyline, but pretty much everything else I found completely stupid and tiresome. Bridget goes to Thailand? And is imprisoned? And her mom comes home from Kenya with a Kikuyu? And Bridget gets death threats? Huh? And most unbelievable of all: this was written in 1999 and you expect me to believe that Bridget isn’t online and doesn’t have email (but her mother does)? Also: don’t any of these people have call waiting? Everyone is always missing everyone else because the line is busy. Isn’t that pretty much standard with a cell (as Bridget does appear to have mobile)?

I must admit that I skimmed a great part of Reason, because I found it so tiresome and I just wanted to know how the thing with Mark played out. Also, I found the diary-style writing schtick wearing thin about 1/4 of the way through this book. It was fun in the original, but I got tired of reading her abbreviations and it didn’t jibe well with the story being told. Not to mention I didn’t like the story being told. So.

Anyway — loved the first, didn’t love the second.

Now I’m off to read something I found at the thrift store: The Gargoyle. It should be a nice day and there’s a hammock with my name on it out there.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2011 11:37 am

    I bought the Penguin copy of Bridget Jones’ Diary last year when it was released with the awesome Tara McPherson cover. I bought it solely because I like the artist, but now that I have it and see it every day on my bedside table I am very tempted to read it. It looks fun, and I enjoyed the film (not that the book and film are similar…they rarely are).

    • April 3, 2011 4:48 pm

      It’s a very fun book. I don’t really recommend Edge of Reason, but the first was really fun. And the movie was pretty similar to the book, so if you liked that, you should like the book.

  2. April 3, 2011 3:59 pm

    i second your thoughts exactly on the weight thing! and frankly, i think renee zellwegger (sp?) looked so much better/healthier when she gained the weight for the movie.

    • April 3, 2011 4:49 pm

      I know; she’s like Scary Skeleton Girl. Very cute all plushed out for the movie role.

  3. April 4, 2011 4:47 am

    I loved the Bridget book and the movie — but you’re so right about the sequels. They just don’t cut the mustard.

    • April 5, 2011 7:53 pm

      Yeah, I didn’t like the sequel. I think the movie was okay? I can’t remember. But the first ones: brilliant.

  4. D'Arcy permalink
    April 4, 2011 6:06 am

    First of all, I keep telling you, if you want chick lit that won’t insult your intelliegence, you should read Jennifer Weiner. I would now add to that recommendation, Sarah Pekkanen.

    Second, Bridget’s obsession with her weight is one of the things that makes so many readers identify with her. Look at me – you know what I look like. I constantly worry about my weight. And yes, she tops out at 131 and like you said, Renee Zellweger looks adorable in the movie. But that’s not what she usually looks like, right? She had to GAIN weight to look healthy. And Bridget is bombarded by the same media images, telling her she’s overweight when she’s actually healthy.

    • April 5, 2011 7:58 pm

      D’Arce, I *have* read (and liked) Jennifer Weiner. I loved Good In Bed and I think I read In Her Shoes? I will check out Sarah Pekkanen (Suomi?).

      Second, I acknowledge that yes,the weight obsession is one of the things that makes her identifiable, but I maintain that this is silly (though, I realize, inevitable, given our culture) for most women, including myself (and you, you silly goose). It’s a waste of time and intelligence, and I didn’t love reading about it. So. Yeah, it’s “normal” but it shouldn’t be.

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