Tag Archives: Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Helen Fielding

Penguin, 1999, 338 pages, C$19.00 tpb, ISBN 0-14-029847-9

I really liked Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and it seems as if I wasn’t the only one; the book remained one of Britain’s best-seller for quite some time. With this success, and a successful film adaptation, it was inevitable to see a sequel popping up in bookstores.

The good and the bad news about The Edge of Reason are that, overall, it’s more of the same thing. If you loved Bridget Jones in her first diary -and who didn’t?-, you’ll love her about as much in the second one. Our heroine is still adorably confused, the writing style still as brisk, and the overall effect quite sympathetic. If you loved the prequel, there’s no doubt that you’ll like The Edge of Reason.

Bridget begins her second diary scant weeks after the events of the first one; we find her still happily shacking up with Mark Darcy, the rock-solid barrister romantic hero of the first volume. All is well in paradise… or is it? A few obvious misunderstandings, comic interludes and disloyal incidents from acquaintances later, Bridget finds herself sort-of-single once again and determined to chuck all of her self-help books in the trash again.

Hey, don’t worry; Mr. Darcy isn’t all that far away, and neither is the happy ending. In the meantime, Bridget is free to make even more outrageous slip-ups, obsess some more about her body and suffer through the manias of her mother. You can’t do the same romantic shtick twice, and the second volume of the Bridget Jones series is slanted towards broader comedy.

As usual, some specific bits are laugh-aloud funny; a Colin Firth interview published verbatim (because Bridget goofed up once more) reads like the most asinine fan interview ever conducted. Furthermore, several of the funniest bits are self-contained in wonderful epigrams. You might even recognize moments of truth in Fielding’s prose. Your reviewer found himself laughing silly at the suggestions that Bridget was dumped for insufficient geographic knowledge, an incident with troubling similarities having happened in his immediate vicinity a few weeks before.

Alas, as comic bits go, Fielding also includes less-amusing moments. It’s not easy to milk humor from a suicide attempt (fortunately, not Bridget’s) nor a few days in prison, and indeed, the laughs feel far more forced during these moments. If you can’t stand situational comedy whose setup is required by stupid misunderstandings, chances are that you’ll have a few problems with this book, which depends heavily on Bridget and Mark Darcy not communicating effectively at several crucial moments.

The other big problem of The Edge of Reason is its occasional lack of relevance to the average reader. Everyone reading Bridget Jones’s Diary could identify with the protagonist or relate her to an acquaintance, mostly because her problems were so universal. Not so in the sequel; how many of us get to fly to Italy to interview Colin Firth, or take vacations in Thailand and then by framed for drug smuggling? Granted, it’s funny to see how Bridget reacts to these problems (she ends up lip-synching Madonna in prison) but on the other hand, it’s not something we’re likely to relate with our day-to-day lives. But, alas, maybe that’s the price to pay to extend a one-novel character… But as long as Bridget doesn’t find herself battling aliens by the third volume of the series, this isn’t cause for serious concern.

These caveats expressed, fans of the first volume can’t really go wrong by checking out The Edge of Reason. Sure, it’s more of the same, but when it’s as good as Bridget Jones’s Diary, why complain?

Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

Picador, 1996, 310 pages, C$10.99 mmpb, ISBN 0-330-37525-3

01/05/2001: 13st8 (Eek! What am I, a bowling ball?), cigarettes 0 (as if), alcohol units 0 (yeah, right), 6/49 tickets 0 (not feeling one-in-fourteen-million special enough), nasty calls from Rogers Video 0 (v.g.), siblings visiting 2, calories stratospheric (shouldn’t have had third slice of pizza. Nor fourth, fifth or sixth one).

L. came in my office again today, complaining about latest dating prospect and wondering whenever she’ll meet Mister Right and if new clothes make her too fat. Did my best impression of a gay best friend, sympathizing with everything she said while personal designs on her neither gay nor simply friendly. Have to wonder how I ended up in this bizarre situation someday, but not today as answer likely to be too depressing.

Thought about L. a lot while finishing Bridget Jones’s Diary, but also about my own situation; young professional still single more by circumstance than choice. Whole book told as year-in-the-life diary of said Bridget Jones, single Londoner with more neuroses than entire Woody Allen oeuvre.

Great book, fun reading, many laugh-out-loud moments. Even though Bridget not brightest bulb, it’s impossible not to really like her, problems and all. Constant metaphorical yearning to hug her and say everything would come out all right. Author Helen Fielding does great job at funny writing with huge drops of honesty. Loved passage about how single friends would rather keep everyone else single than lose their time with them because they’re in relationship.

Had a few problems with the book, though; bunch of coincidences, mostly. Eventually learned that Mr. Darcy character based on similar Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which might explain a lot if ever I end up seeing Pride and Prejudice.

At least book much superior to movie, which stumbled worst when straying away from novel. Major distractions include whole mother subplot, which is nastier in book than film. Unfortunately, this cause movie ending to be far more Hollywoodish than book, which is far more satisfying (“Why did you do it?” “I think it’s obvious.” Perfect!) Whole book generally less formula romance than film, which now feels more contrived than ever. (While book never sends Darcy to New York, there is unfortunately no fist-fight. Oh well.) Interestingly enough, movie/book changes will keep up interest in the book for movie fans.

Writing sharp, fast, hilarious & hypnotically easy to imitate. Fielding has comic genius; some embarrassed glances from other people in the bus after hearing me laughing aloud.

Social significance of Bridget Jones probably worth noting, but too little space here to do so. Ironically enough, Bridget Jones’s Diary could be compared to a female Fight Club, both being about modern social dilemma stemming from doing first thirty years more or less right and then discovering things that parents never told you about. Modern teenhood being pushed back ten-fifteen years? Lack of established social models to deal with modern zeitgeist? Judging from bestseller lists in England and now States, chances are that many many ladies are identifying with Jones. Personal query; where are they all? Like to think of self as being much closer to Darcy than Daniel.

Realize enjoyed Bridget Jones’s Diary a lot despite not being target audience, which leads self to question validity of initial premise. Maybe not as far away from Jones as would like to believe. Eek.