Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

by Helen Fielding

Published by Viking

338 pages, 2000


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Smugly Single

Reviewed by Pamela C. Patterson

 

Bridget Jones is back and just as funny as before. Bridget, a 30-something London gal adrift in a sea of unsatisfying work and hopeless men, made her debut in 1998 with Bridget Jones's Diary. This hilarious account of Bridget's daily trials and tribulations began as a weekly newspaper column by Helen Fielding, who started each entry with an account of Bridget's vices, including weight, cigarettes inhaled, calories consumed and units of alcohol guzzled. Bridget, ever-repentant and looking to turn over a new leaf, critiques these tallies with little asides like "v.g." (very good) and is the queen of rationalization ("alcohol units 6, but mixed with tomato juice, v. nutritious").

At the beginning of the sequel, Bridget has just snagged -- and shagged -- Mark Darcy, whom she pined after in the first book. Mark is a smart and sexy upwardly mobile lawyer, with a fabulous house that's everything Bridget's tiny flat is not. As the book opens Bridget can hardly believe her good fortune:

Hurrah! The wilderness years are over. For four weeks and five days now have been in functional relationship with adult male thereby proving am not love pariah as previously feared. Feel marvelous, rather like Posh Spice or similar radiant newlywed posing with sucked-in cheeks and lip gloss while everyone imagines her in bed with David Beckham. Ooh. Mark Darcy just moved. Maybe he will wake up and talk to me about my opinions.

Although things start out blissfully enough, Bridget isn't allowed to luxuriate in her newfound love life too long before it all begins to go awry. By page 44, when Bridget attends a pre-law society dinner with Mark at the v. glamorous Guildhall, she's trying to blend in at a table full of "brittly confident" lawyers when her boyfriend announces that he votes Tory:

Suddenly felt I didn't know Mark Darcy at all, and for all I knew, all the weeks we had been going out he had been secretly collecting limited edition miniature pottery animals wearing bonnets from the back pages of Sunday supplements, or slipping off to rugby matches on a bus and mooning at other motorists out of the back window.

To make matters worse, the very aggressive and hatefully gorgeous Rebecca seems to be after Mark, turning up like a bad penny at every social event that he and Bridget are attending. Bridget doesn't trust her one whit, but Mark appears oblivious to Rebecca's intentions, which simply frustrates and infuriates Bridget all the more.

As Bridget's love life starts to unravel, her work situation isn't much better. Bridget is now working for the fluff television program Sit Up Britain!, and her diabolical boss Richard Finch does his best to make her life miserable and humiliate her at every turn. When Bridget begins to fantasize about making a break from the office grind and turning herself out as a freelancer for the Independent, she arranges to interview movie hunk Colin Firth with disastrous results. When the embarrassingly bad piece is published, Richard exults in Bridget's debacle, spending the next two days at work "reading out bits of the interview then bellowing with deep, gurgling laughter in manner of Dracula."

Clearly, something must be done to salvage the wreckage of her life, so -- lalala! -- Bridget decides to go on holiday. This sets in motion a further comedy of errors in her tumultuous and tenuous relationship with Mark and provides even more fodder for Richard Finch to torment her with upon her return.

All the usual suspects are present and accounted for in the sequel: Bridget's trusted best girlfriends Jude and Sharon; her gay friend Tom (who's not a lot of help this time around, as he keeps flitting off to San Francisco to pursue a new love interest); married friend Magda, who has her own troubles with husband Jeremy and her wild brood of preschoolers; and of course Bridget's mum and dad, respectively irritating and endearing, who can't quite understand why their darling daughter is still a Singleton and not a Smug Married by now.

Some of the best bits in the book are about Bridget's burgeoning collection of self-help books (which don't seem to help at all, so she finally pitches them all out, except for The Road Less Traveled and You Can Heal Your Life) and a hilarious sequence about going to buy condoms for a possible tryst with an old boyfriend who's coming round to visit one night when she's on the outs with Mark Darcy.

Although Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason gets off to a slightly slower start than its predecessor, it's still chock-full of laughs and dead-on humor. Here's to the further adventures of Bridget Jones: she's blurry brill (that's bloody brilliant to you Yanks). | August 2000

 

Pamela C. Patterson has been happily wed for 11 years to a really great guy, but she tries not to act like a Smug Married. She thinks her Singleton friends would agree.