I loved the film adaptation of Bridget Jones’s Diary when I was a teenager. I don’t know why but I asked for a copy of it for Christmas one year. It’s not as if I’d seen it at the cinema or watched it anywhere else. I guess I just figured it was the kind of thing girls my age watched. In the end, I watched tht VHS over and over again. Yet, I never had any desire to pick up the book. I’ve just never read romantic comedies that often. I’m happy to watch but them never read them. As I’d bought the anniversary edition of this book last year, I decided I finally had to read it. As last month was the month of romance, it seemed like a good time.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is a book that has a strong sense of time and place. It feels very much like a book from the 90s and that does make it feel pretty dated when you pick it up in 2022. So, it’s difficult to judge how much I might have enjoyed it at the time. Now, it feels more than a little toxic. It’s just full of awful characters doing awful things. It doesn’t help that the characters lack depth and development. Bridget doesn’t really learn any lessons throughout the book or really become a better person.
I guess the idea of Bridget is incredibly annoying and the way she writes gets grating. I get that she’s not supposed to have a great grasp of grammar and language but it all gets a bit much at times. Then the opening segments detailing weight, calories and everything just gets old quite quickly. Yes, we get it. Diet culture is bad and women are under pressure to conform. I just don’t get the point? There was no real criticism of this type of thought process. It just feels like a “women be crazy” kind of thing.
None of this would really matter if there was much of a story to follow. Instead, there are quite a few plot points that return but it’s hard to care about them. Bridget’s parents are divorcing but she doesn’t seem too bothered about it. There’s her awful relationship with Daniel. Her search for a job. Probably some other stuff. It’s just hard to remember because of how long this book spends talking about weight. This is a book that was written to either make people feel better about their own lives or feel as though they weren’t as hopeless as they believed.
In terms of actual romance, I don’t get the point. I know this was a riff on Pride and Prejudice but there is absolutely no chemistry between Bridget and Mark Darcy. The film does a good job of creating moments between them. In the book, it all happens in one night. I didn’t get the sense that Bridget liked Mark but it was more that he liked her and she went with it. It just comes out of nowhere and we’re meant to be celebrating it as a big love story? I know that this book recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. The fact that it has lasted for so long says more about 90s culture than it does about the quality of the writing.