Thursday, December 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Bridget Jones's Diary

In which I share vague recollections about books I read long ago that have stuck with me.

I'm surprised that I've never written a post about Helen Fielding's chick lit book Bridget Jones's Diary, because it seems like just yesterday that I listened to the audiobook for the 4th or 5th time. As you are probably well aware, this book is about a British singleton looking for love, trying to lose weight, and obsessing over the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. Written in diary form, chapters begin with lists: weight, drinks consumed, calories consumed, cigarettes smoked. They then go on to recount her clumsy, madcap adventures at work and dating and with her colorful group of friends.

What makes this book (and the follow-up, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason) so wonderful to me is the audiobook narrator, Barbara Rosenblatt. Ok, the book itself is great too - relatable and super hilarious! But the way this narrator reads it is just fantastic and her performance adds so much to it. The best part is how she reads Bridget's mother, a flighty and meddling middle-aged woman who doesn't understand how to use voicemail and who is constantly giving Bridget advice, insisting she get her colors done, and demanding to know why she's still single. The conversations they have are totally hysterical. Even after listening multiple times, it still makes me laugh.

I always think of this book around the holidays because it opens with an invitation from Bridget's mother to attend Una Alconbury's New Year's Day Turkey Curry Buffet. This is where Bridget first meets top London barrister Mark Darcy who is wearing a terrible sweater and who she immediately dislikes and then goes on to have a romance with. So if you're looking for a different sort of holiday book, perhaps this would be a good choice.

The movie doesn't at all compare to the book, though I'll admit some good casting for the two most important roles: Renee Zellweger as Bridget and Pride & Prejudice's own Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. I thought that Zellweger captured the character well, and there is really nobody else to play Mark Darcy but the actual Mr. Darcy. And Hugh Grant was also perfect for the role of Daniel Cleaver, Bridget's boss and love interest. Otherwise, it just couldn't capture what was so good about it, which really was the telling of the story in the form of the diary. Plus, Barbara Rosenblatt didn't play Bridget's mother.

Bridget Jones's Diary spurred my interest in chick lit, and I went on to extensively read Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner, Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, and probably lots more that I'm forgetting. Such fun stuff!

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