31 January 2012

Delighted to meet her

Grabbed Bridget Jones's Diary at a book sale

Bridget Jones writes in her diary what I won't dare write in my own: current weight, calorie intake, sexual encounters, humiliations and defeats; and in a manner I cannot even begin to master: straightforward and witty.

Chick lit is an unexplored (because avoided) territory for me. My impression of the genre is tied to whiny girls belaboring the obvious about love, men, and other girls. So why the sudden foray into the unknown? No special reason, except the human urge to sometimes try something different and know. Plus, my inner Anglophile whispered, Bridget is brilliant.

The book was published when I was still in high school, though I only learned about it in college when the film adaptation came out. It is, I realize, for the better that I've read it now than then; for surely back when I was 19, I would have little appreciation for the theory that
Homosexuals and single women in their thirties have natural bonding: both being accustomed to disappointing their parents and being treated as freaks of society.
That Bridget Jones's diary serves as a mirror to most urban 'singletons' is already a given; but to boost the reader's enjoyment and self-esteem, a number of her accounts and self-assessments are also invitations to schadenfreude—
Wise people will say Daniel should like me just as I am, but I am a child of Cosmopolitan culture, have been traumatized by super-models and too many quizzes and know that neither my personality nor my body is up to it if left to its own devices.
This is not to say that her experiences range from OK to bad to very bad, and that she is painfully self-deprecating. In fact her stories, while laden with great lows, comprise great highs. And whatever she is faced with, Bridget, at best, faces it with realism, kindness, and thoughtful reverie.

In what I regard as the most striking passage in the book, Bridget Jones lays down the worst thing about the game of love: the idea that it is a game and you have to scour the earth to find your match; as if love is one emotion (salute to Edward Thomas) with a universal standard you can measure all sentiment with anyone against—
When someone leaves you, apart from missing them, apart from the fact that the whole little world you've created together collapses, and that everything you see or do reminds you of them, the worst is the thought that they tried you out and, in the end, the whole sum of parts adds up to you got stamped REJECT by the one you love. [my emphasis]
Our heroine eventually discovers a good man, or in her words, a 'nice boyfriend'. Remaining true to its tone, the book narrates a promising romance without grand gestures and declarations (but is sweet and exciting nonetheless). If there is anything I'm missing, it's a positive conclusion for the gentlest of men in Bridget's life, her father. (Maybe in the sequel?)

The back cover teaser claims that 'like millions of readers the world round—you'll find yourself shouting, "Bridget Jones is me!"' In my case, not completely. Instead, Bridget is more of the girl friend I always wish to have—honest, caring, a tad paranoid, and hilariously provocative:
It is proved by surveys that happiness does not come from love, wealth or power but the pursuit of attainable goals: and what is a diet if not for that?

Top Shelf