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The International Writers Magazine: Review

Understanding Miss Jones
Alana Hebenton

Bridget Jones’s diary chronicles the life of the attractive thirty something Bridget, round a year’s worth of her diary entries. Each diary entry starts with her listing the amount of calories consumed, cigarettes smoked and alcohol units drank.
Reading Bridget’s embarrassing diary entries in the novel, including her awkward introduction to Mark Darcy, her inappropriate costume at a tart and vicar’s party and her disastrous attempt at cooking her own dinner party, allow the reader to empathise and relate to her. The reader laughs along with her, rather than at her. The novel’s listing of calories consumed, cigarettes smoked and alcohol units drank; give the reader a gauge on Bridget’s happiness in the book. This reveals the heavy influence the mass media has on shaping female obsessive attitudes over physical beauty, self-fulfilment and obtaining romantic love.

Helen fielding took her influences for the novel from her own experiences as a single working woman in Britain, often consulting her own diary extracts when writing the book, using her own knowledge of working as a free lance journalist and her time as a producer at the BBC.

The influence that contemporary culture had on creating the novel can be seen from the references the book makes to popular magazines such as ‘Hello’, ‘Cosmo sex quizzes’, ‘Feng Sui’ and John Grey’s novel ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’, along with it’s use of British slang such as ‘fags’ and ‘bollocks’. This use of culture references in conjunction with the relatable everyday problems that Bridget faces, dealing with hang overs, choosing appropriate clothing for a first date and understanding proper etiquette in awkward situations, allows readers to see the novel’s close link and relevance to everyday British life.
The pace and research used in Bridget Jones’s diary also add to the novels mass appeal with modern readerships. This is because the novel’s funny confessional style and the imitate revelations, allow readers to feel on the same level as Bridget, giving the novel a conversational feel. The novel’s satirical style also makes the book entertaining for audiences, while it’s use of short diary extracts make the novel an easy fast read. This allows the novel to be accessible to a wider audience, adding to the book’s large attraction.

Together with these modern novel writing techniques, the novel also uses the tried and tested format of successful classical chic lit novels, by making parallels with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This allows Bridget Jones to be good not only as a satirical funny piece but as a traditional romance novel.

The novel is also able to attract wider audiences, than simply single thirty-year-old women, as Bridget’s goals are ultimately universal to men and women of all ages. This is because all of us strive for the perfect job, want the perfect mate, long to behave properly in situations, want to exercise more and eat less. The novel’s success has been so widespread that not only does it reflect British culture today, but also it has influenced it. This can be seen from the numerous similar style novels, magazine articles, and films that followed the books release, such as Liz Jone’s diary that features weekly in the Daily Mail’s Sunday supplement magazine ‘You’. Bridget Jones’s influence can also be seen from the way in which slang that she uses in the book like ‘singleton’ and ‘emotional fuck wittage’ has become part of the English language and people now use phrases like ‘that’s very Bridget Jones’.

© Alana Hebenton November 2007
shl60532 at

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