PLEASE READ REVIEW BEFORE:
a) shaking your head in disapproval/disgust
b) wondering how an English Literature Undergrad has time to be reading such a book
c) thinking that Bridget Jones is simply another Chic Lit book
I feel like that needed to be said first. Now that’s done, shall we begin. . .
Let’s establish the obvious: Bridget Jones does seem to be the perfect candidate for being grouped under that unforgiving title of Chic Lit. Yet turn to the back page of your trusty edition and you shall find various critics praising the books loyalty to reality and perhaps even more surprisingly a comment from Salman Rushdie. He states “A brilliant comic creation. Even men will laugh”. (Incidentally you did read that right: a book that divulges into the complex world of the everyday female neurosis could be funny to the sex that does not experience said neurosis). Other critics include the Times Literary Supplement and the Daily Telegraph. These are not small players and they seem to be unanimous in their conclusion: this is a good book. So what is it about this book that takes it out of the rather damning Chick Lit genre? The book is clever. It’s funny. It should not be judged by its cover.
I recently read Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse (see I do actually get my course reading in) and learnt that when she was writing, she was attempting to establish a new form of realism, one that focused on the internal emotions of people, the complexity and fluidity of someone’s thought process in the everyday. How our internal monologue has changed. Helen’s book is one that divulges into the drunken internal monologue of a thirty year old woman. I am aware that we are not dealing with the titanic themes of Mrs. Ramsey and the complexities of being in the shadow of an unsatisfying patriarchal society, however don’t you just root for Bridget a little more? She really does try ever so hard.
If realism is defined as a devotion to what is, without excessive artifice then surely Bridget’s diary, with it’s inclusion of emails, to do lists and continuous self-deprecation is certainly true to dating in our lifetime. If the regrettable drunken texts are not true to life today, please feel free to give me a better example. The collection of medias used are a wonderful portrayal of the sheer scale of information we inhale on a daily basis. While this collection of medias may seem extensive when reading (I have been reminded that this was only published in1996), it does leave one to wonder how Helen Fielding would write this in today’s society. Would Bridget be a blogger? A tweeter? (Is ”tweeter” a proper noun?) A tumblr-er? (It seems these online forums may lead to questioning te definition of a proper noun). It does seem likely she is the kind of gal that would certainly have issues with questioning whether or not to changer her relationship status.
In this day and age, no news is most certainly not good.
The inclusion of Shazza, Jude and Tom (a girl is never without the advice of her best friends) is presented as extensions of Bridget’s own consciousness, and even though often presented as humorous and extreme in opinion and could easily fall into stock types, they become the reader’s own beloved friends. Shazza, the abrasive feminist. Jude the woman in continuous pursuit of the wrong man. And finally Tom, the gay best friend (combined with the effects of living in a post Will and Grace world, this seems to have become a stock type in books and tv). Bridget’s world is one that is chaotic and almost un-fairytale, and yet her hysteria is infectious. After reading this book, when faced with a rather hairy scenario, you can just hear her saying “Now remember inner poise”. (If you can just get over the fact that I can now hear character’s voices in my head that would be greatly appreciated)