Cannonball Read IV: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
This is the book that launched a thousand chick lit novels, which I sort of hate myself for even saying because the term "chick lit" makes me want to gouge out my own eyes, as well as the eyes of whoever invented it, but, well, this book is responsible for every book since that follows the "girl-meets-guy-hates-guy-falls-for-scoundrel-oh-wait-first-guy-isn't-so-bad-after-all" model.
Full disclosure: I have read this book approximately 1.7 billion times so it's impossible for me to be objective about it. I usually end up reading it either right before or right after reading or watching Pride & Prejudice, or I suddenly have to read it because I heard "It's Raining Men" somewhere (you're welcome for that clip).
There was a time, back in college, when I first read this book, that I thought I'd end up much like Bridget Jones, single well into my 30s, still drinking too much and eating too much and, you know, making bad decisions re: career, lovelife, etc. Somehow I found someone who doesn't mind (even enjoys!) dealing with my nonsense, but though I'm not still stuck in the dating world (thank god), I still identify with Bridget's crazy shenanigans, mostly because, if I ever got to interview Colin Firth (um, spoiler alert for the 2nd book), I'd behave exactly as Bridget did. Or worse.
Anyway! That's in the second book! Why am I talking about that? Good question! Let's move on.
Bridget Jones's Diary, for those who don't know, is a book about a 30-something woman named Bridget Jones (duh) who keeps a diary (double duh) for a year, meaning we get an inside look at all of her trials and embarrassments and deep, dark thoughts.
It's also based on Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, which is why there's a character named Mark Darcy, who is played by Colin Firth in the movie and Colin Firth, as everyone should know, IS Mr. Darcy because of that one time he was in the BBC Pride & Prejudice miniseries that aired a million years ago but it doesn't even matter how long ago it was, Colin Firth will always be Mr. Darcy which is just too bad for him, isn't it? I mean, he's an Oscar winner now. He played a king! But no, he'll always be that super cross, prideful son-of-a-bitch from two hundred years ago.
For whatever reason, when a friend and I first read Bridget Jones's Diary, we latched onto it like...I don't know, something that really likes another thing. We read the book and then saw the movie and then watched the P&P miniseries and we once spent like an hour in the bathroom of our dorm drunkenly discussing how dreamy Mr. Darcy is. I wish I could remember that conversation but I can't (I'm sure it was a real brain-burner), though I did have some evidence of it the next morning, because we'd drunk-emailed some friends and those emails contained the following sentences:
"Mr. Darcy is a harthrap."
"Mr. Darcy is the hit of my pants."
I've never been prouder of anything I've ever written. Why WOULDN'T you want to read a book that led to those sentences? Just in case you're still on the fence, though, here are some great things about this book that don't involve Mr. Darcy:
1. Daniel Cleaver
2. The term "emotional fuckwittage"
3. Bridget's dad
4. Bridget's friends
5. It's a really quick read, and you know how busy you are
6. Mr. Darcy I'M SORRY I CAN'T STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM I MEAN LOOK HOW CROSS HE IS:
Also, as fun bonus trivia, Bridget's friend Tom in the movie is played by James Callis, who later played Dr. Gaius Baltar on Battlestar Galactica. So. Make of that what you will.
My point is, you should read this, with a cocktail or seven, and then you should watch the movie and THEN you should read and watch Pride & Prejudice, just to get the entire experience.
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)
(Header image by Tara McPherson for Penguin Books.)
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