Books Magazine

Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

By Hannahreadsstuff
bridget tara mcpherson

The wonderful cover by Tara McPherson

I was inspired to pick this up during fellow book blogger Emma Louise’s recent #sunathon. I wanted something fun and lightweight, and after a couple of false starts, I decided to try Bridget Jones’s Diary.

As you may have read in my #Bookadayuk week four round-up post,I had spent the years between its release and now piling sloppy scorn on this book. I based my opinion purely on the film ( I know! I know!), Renee Zellweger’s beyond twee English accent, and the fact I felt a lot of women saw themselves as “Bridget Joneses”, wearing their sadness on their sleeves as a  self-mocking badge of honour, adding “self-scorn” to the pile of issues already damaging their self esteem. Not knowing Bridget yet, I wanted to shake them and scream:


It felt to me, that as long as they had their poster-girl for self-pity, they had the trendy excuse they needed to ignore their excellence.

But that was before I knew just how excellent Bridget is, and though some women may have taken the imagery from the film a little too far in the pursuit of endless “what’s up hun?”s on Facebook, I must now agree that she is totally heroine-worship worthy.

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I had decided that maybe I could read this book without scowling when, another heroine-worship worthy woman, Hadley Freeman, listed it in her book Be Awesome as a must-read. It goes to show how utterly clueless I was when Freeman’s inclusion of Bridget made me laugh aloud: “err…what Hadley?! I was not expecting THAT nonsense to turn up at the end of your otherwise excellent and humourous book about modern feminism“.

Once I had scoffed myself dry, I went and had a cup of tea, and remembering the vow I made after reading The List,I decided to get over myself and pick up a copy as soon as one fell at me from a charity shop shelf.

I figured that Hadley knows what she’s talking about, all the other books in that list are just fine, she wouldn’t send me out to spend my hard-earned pennies on a book that wasn’t totally awesome.

It didn’t take long to find a copy, it seems to be perpetually passed on by, what I now know are excellent women re-distributing the wisdom. And once I’d started there was no putting it down!

Every page is hilarious, Bridget is completely vivid, alive and loveable. I mourned the fact she wasn’t real, that I was having to read about her over a latte in Cafe Nero alone, without her actual, physical presence. For me, she wasn’t the needy, sad-faced, puppy-woman that mourned at me from film posters, she was determined, dogged and hilarious!

Ok, so perhaps she didn’t recognise these things in herself and spent many calories, alcohol units and 1471 minutes trying to find solutions to her problems, but isn’t that just what I was talking about above? That the main issue women have is that they don’t see how great they are? That they spend too much time counting things and over-analysing things? Don’t we all just need to get over all the “fuckwittage” and get on with being awesome every day?

I applauded her each time she left a panting Daniel Cleaver, his respect for abandoned as quickly as his trousers. And I nodded along, recognising her struggle, as she tried to balance her overwhelming feelings with what she knew was right. I loved that though she may have stuffed her face under covers at home, outside her head was always up, no matter what humiliation or letdown she was currently enduring.

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All of this was lost on me before I’d read this. I thought she was a whinger, pining for a life she didn’t have, jealous of those around her that seemed to have what she wanted – those “smug-marrieds”. I thought I would hate her, that I would think she was pathetic and needy. What I didn’t know was her ability to cut these people down, that it was actually their eyes that were judging HER, that it was BRIDGET that was having to come up with the wise-cracks and the withering put-downs in order to survive another dinner party where her life was scrutinised and picked over along with the main course.

As Freeman says herself, the plot of this book is so very much secondary to Bridget, Fielding has written such a vivid, brilliant and very, very funny character, she could pretty much get up to anything and I wouldn’t blink – I just want to hear her tell me about it.

What I thought was a sad woman clad perpetually in Haagen-Daz splashed night wear and big pants, was actually a woman with a thick skin, unapologetic about her actions and undeniably her own person. She is a fantastic role model and I am glad that I have found her, and anyone that says anything else, probably hasn’t met her.

Book info:

  • ISBN: 9780330512176
  • My copy was published by Picador in 1998
  • Bought copy from charity shop

The illustrations I have used in this post are by the amazing Tara McPherson for Penguin. Once I have my hands on a copy with this cover I shall do my wise-woman duty and give my current copy away.

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