Monday, February 27, 2006

Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding

By Christina VanGinkel

I often read serious toned books, so when I picked up a copy of Bridget Jones's Diary, I cannot even tell you what I was thinking. After the first few pages though, I was chuckling, and not long after that I was laughing so loud my husband was giving me funny looks and asking what in the world could be so hilarious in the pages of a book!

You meet Bridget amongst the pages of her diary, starting with her New Year's resolutions. She has vowed to 'not' do all sorts of things, such as not to drink more than fourteen alcohol units a week. (Oh yeah, the main character is British, not American, but do not let that stop you from reading it, as I am glad to say the Brits are as crazy as us, so you will be able to understand the humor with no problem!).

She has also vowed to not spend more money than she earns, (don't we all?), not to smoke, and my favorite, to not act sluttishly around the house, and to imagine that others are always watching. She has many more 'I will not' resolutions, but you will have to read the book to find out what they are.

Her 'I will' resolutions are a bit more on the tame side, such as eating more fiber, and starting a pension plan. Things we all know we should do, but when one is so young, they make good resolutions, but does anybody really do them? She also aims to form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and after her resolution to learn how to program her VCR, the story dives right in to the depths of her diary pages, and you will never look at a young woman dealing with life the same again.

From wanting to lose weight, to learning that not every man is as ideal as they may seem on the surface, there is a lot to like about Bridget. Why, you even get to meet her parents, her friends, even her boss, and after that, if you had any doubts about whether or not Bridget was likable, there are no doubts left. Throughout the pages, you are taken along on her life, both at work, at home, and into what is her social life. The same as with so many of us, young and old alike, these three things often have a way of overlapping, making one's life not as clean and easy to navigate as we might wish. Poor Bridget has even more than her fair share of ups and downs, and each one, both the ups and downs, will have you cheering her on. She may be a bit on the crazy side even as she traverses life while keeping track of things like how many cigarettes she actually smokes, how many calories she consumed, and any little fibs she might have spoke, all in good reason though.

With chapter titles the likes of Valentine's Day Massacre, and Hah! Boyfriend, not to mention A Criminal in the Family, the reader is really taken on a rollercoaster ride through the life of this British working girl. When the book wraps up with a summary of her goals met and those not, it keeps you hoping that there will at least be as second book, and the writer does not fail you on that account, coming back with more on the life and times of Bridget Jones in the pages of yet another book.

This first one though is an entertaining frolic via the personal and very workable format of a diary. There are also summations by Bridget at the start of many of the diary pages, summing up a variety of subjects including her current weight, the gains or losses on that account, number of calories consumed, alcohol units imbibed, number of cigarettes smoked, lottery tickets purchased (hey, a girl can dream!), and even amount of time spent counting wrinkles, helping to provide the reader with a quick look at how well she is doing on those New Year's resolutions! If you are looking for a read that is sure to provide a number of countable laughs, give Bridget Jones's Diary a once over.

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