Posts Tagged ‘Helen Fielding’

I just finished Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy and was feeling bad about how much I enjoyed it. Which made me wonder, why on earth should certain books, films, etc. be considered “guilty pleasures?”

Fielding writes brilliant comedy. This is a smart book, full of trenchant and hilarious send-ups of contemporary life, which is really what Jane Austen did, or Jonathan Swift, or other writers of novels of manners or social satire. So why should I feel like my friends with fancy degrees or my fellow librarians or anyone really will snigger at my full-bodied praise for the glorious @JoneseyBJ?

Because she is glorious — Bridget Jones is now in her 50’s, widowed for several years (Mark Darcy, human rights lawyer extraordinaire and father of their two children died in Sudan), living quite comfortably (alas no longer in Holland Park, but in a house in London, with a part time nanny and a cleaner to help out), and trying to put her personal and professional lives back together while a) juggling the ridiculous number of activities her children have b) dealing with her food issues, i.e. desire to eat whole bags of shredded cheese when feeling down c) not feeling old d) losing her born-again virginity e) feeling like a crap mother, writer, and woman.

She deals with texting, tweeting, learning to date again, trying not to be late or seem crazy while on the school run, and trying to keep her children nit free, well nourished, organized, and well cared for, albeit fatherless. Her wonderful band of friends still “help” with all of this, and a few new ones appear on the scene as well. Bridget is still the awkward mess with a heart of gold that she was in the earlier books.

I think the thing Fielding captures best — cultural critiques and pointed commentary on the objectification of women aside, brilliant as they are — is that all too common awkwardness.  Haven’t we all felt it?

Who hasn’t been in a social situation and realized she tried to say something intelligent but garbled it a bit? Who hasn’t misread someone? Or compared another woman’s life to her own and felt terribly wanting, and also — whether we admit it or not — as if the right outfit might solve something, even if we know deep down that is utter rubbish? Who doesn’t vow regularly to embark on a plan of self-improvement that will actually solve everything, while ordering said outfit as plan B? Who, no matter how smart and feminist, doesn’t wish to recapture some of her younger self’s best features? Or feel like crap for some or all of the above?

Who doesn’t simultaneously love their friends and family and feel a little exasperated at filling a certain role in those familiar circles? Who doesn’t cherish that familiarity when push comes to shove? And who doesn’t know, really, it’s not so bad, as long as we have each other?

So forgo guilt and take pleasure in this funny, fun-to-read, and witty book. And then give yourself a break.



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