Bridget Jones's Diary
|Cover artist||Nick Turpin|
|Genre||Comedy novel, Chick lit|
|Media type||Print (hardback and paperback)|
|LC Class||PR6056.I4588 B75 1998|
|Followed by||Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason|
Bridget Jones's Diary is a 1996 novel by Helen Fielding. Written in the form of a personal diary, the novel chronicles a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a thirty-something single working woman living in London. She writes about her career, self-image, vices, family, friends, and romantic relationships.
By 2006, the book had sold over two million copies worldwide. Critics have credited Fielding's novel as the "ur-text" of the contemporary chick lit movement. A sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, was published in 1999.
The plot is focused on Bridget's love life. She worries on a regular basis about dying without someone and going on to be eaten by dogs when her singleness causes her death not to be discovered promptly, an obsession that a USA Today reviewer called "one of [Bridget's] more cheerful daydreams". However, during the course of the year she becomes involved in two romantic relationships. The first is with her charming and handsome boss Daniel Cleaver, who eventually cheats on Bridget with a younger, more conventionally attractive woman. Bridget's second relationship is with the stuffy human-rights barrister Mark Darcy, whom she initially dislikes when they are reintroduced at a New Year's party where her mother reminds them they were childhood playmates. These two men are connected by more than their relationships with Bridget, as Fielding reveals near the end of the novel.
Bridget not only obsesses about her love life, but also details her various daily struggles with her weight, her over-indulgence in alcohol and cigarettes, and her career. Bridget's friends and family are the supporting characters in her diary. These friends are there for her unconditionally throughout the novel; they give her advice about her relationships, and support when problems arise. Her friends are essentially her surrogate family in London.
Bridget's parents live outside of the city, and while they play a lesser role than her friends, they are important figures in Bridget's life. Her mother is an overconfident, doting woman who is constantly trying to marry Bridget off to a rich, handsome man; and her father is considerably more down-to-earth, though he is sometimes driven into uncharacteristically unstable states of mind by his wife.
Bridget often visits her parents, as well as her parents' friends, primarily Geoffrey and Una Alconbury; Geoffrey creates a mildly uncomfortable situation for Bridget by insisting she call him "Uncle Geoffrey" despite his propensity for groping her rear end whenever they meet. In these situations, Bridget is often plagued with that perennial question "How's your love life?" and exposed to the eccentricities of middle class British society, manifested in turkey curry buffets and tarts and vicars parties at which the women wear sexually provocative ("tart") costumes, while the men dress as Anglican priests ("vicars").
This novel evolved from Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary columns in The Independent and The Daily Telegraph. Fielding devised the novel with the help of Independent journalist Charles Leadbeater; it is roughly based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. As a columnist, Fielding often lampooned society's obsession with women's magazines such as Cosmopolitan and criticised wider societal trends in Britain at the time.
The novel was first published in 1996 by the U.K. publisher; it became an international success. As of 2006, the book had sold over two million copies worldwide. A sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, was published in 1999.
The novel won the 1998 British Book of the Year, and Tracie Bennett won the 2000 Audie Award for "Solo Female Narration" for her audiobook narration. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 75 on the BBC's survey The Big Read.
A film adaptation of the novel was released in 2001. The film stars Renée Zellweger (in an Academy Award nominated role) as the eponymous heroine, Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver, and Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. It was directed by Sharon Maguire (Helen Fielding's friend who was the inspiration for Shazzer) and the screenplay was written by Fielding, Andrew Davies, and Richard Curtis.
A musical version was in the works, with the show was due to open in London's West End in 2012, although this never happened.. British pop singer Lily Allen wrote the score and lyrics, and Stephen Daldry was said to be directing, joined by his co-worker Peter Darling, who would have served as choreographer. An official cast for the production was never finalised, but workshops for the show did begin with TV actress and star of Legally Blonde the Musical, Sheridan Smith, in the title role. Allen stated in 2014 that while the musical was finished, it was unlikely to see the light of day.
- Kirby, Terry (13 November 2004). "The true story of Bridget Jones". The Independent. Retrieved 4 August 2015.
- Memmott, Carol (11 June 2006). "Chick lit, for better or for worse, is here to stay". USA Today. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
- Whelehan, Imelda (2002). Bridget Jones's Diary: A Reader. Bloomsbury Academic.
- Deirdre Donahue. "Following the lovable and loony 'Bridget Jones', USA Today, May 28, 1998, page 5D.
-  Fielding, H. (2001). The diary of Bridget Jones: The birth of a legend. Independent, The (London). Retrieved November 11, 2008, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20010413/ai_n14381512.
-  Leadbeater, C. (n.d.) In Penguins Books Authors Biography online. Retrieved November 11, 2008, from http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Author/AuthorPage/0,,1000026310,00.html.
- "Bridget Jones vs Pride and Prejudice". BBC News. 28 January 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
-  Memmott, C. (2006). Chick lit, for better or for worse, is here to stay. USA Today. Retrieved on November 11, 2008, from http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2006-06-20-chick-lit_x.htm.
- Davidson, Merric. "British Book Awards – previous winners". Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
- "The Audie Awards – 2000". BooksAlley.com. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
- "BBC – The Big Read". BBC. April 2003. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Shenton, Mark (15 May 2009). "Stage Musical Version of "Bridget Jones's Diary" Is in the Works". Playbill. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
"100 'most inspiring' novels revealed by BBC Arts". BBC News. 5 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
The reveal kickstarts the BBC's year-long celebration of literature.