Bridget Jones's Diary is a 1996 novel by Helen Fielding. It chronicles the life of Bridget Jones, a thirty-something single woman living in London. In this book she turns 33 on March 21. Surrounded by a surrogate "urban family" of friends Sharon (Shazzer), Jude, and Tom, she tries to make sense of life and love in the 1990s.
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Bridget is a "Singleton" employed in the publishing industry. She struggles, often humorously and endearingly, to make sense of her romantic entanglement with her boss Daniel Cleaver, and later with the "top-notch human rights barrister" Mark Darcy. One concept introduced and often revisited in both Bridget Jones's Diary and The Edge of Reason is that of "fuckwittage": the emotional turmoil intentionally wreaked by men who fall anywhere along the spectrum of womanizers to commitment-phobics. Fuckwittage is no stranger to Bridget, Shazzer (a strident feminist), Jude (a highly successful business woman who throughout the novel is on-again-off-again with Vile Richard), and the gay Tom (who must deal with the fuckwittage present in his relationship with Pretentious Jerome).
Bridget's family consists of an overconfident mother who seems always to be finding new adventures and projects, a much more down-to-earth father (though he is sometimes driven into uncharacteristically unstable states of mind by his wife), and a brother, Jamie, a more peripheral character. Bridget often visits her parents, as well as her parents' friends (Geoffrey and Una Alconbury first and foremost). In these situations, Bridget is often plagued with that perennial question "How's your love life?" and exposed to the eccentricities of mid-to-upper class British society, manifested in Turkey Curry Buffets and Tarts and Vicars parties.
Many parallels can be found between this book and Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, most noticeably in the male protagonists' last names as well as character traits (compare Fitzwilliam Darcy to Mark Darcy). The relationship of Daniel Cleaver to Mark Darcy parallels the relationship of George Wickham to Fitzwilliam Darcy. Also noticeable are the similarities in personality between Bridget's and Elizabeth Bennet's mothers and fathers. The trend of modeling the life of Bridget Jones after Jane Austen's books is carried through in The Edge of Reason, which is loosely based on Persuasion.
This novel evolved from Helen Fielding's The Diary of Bridget Jones columns in The Independent and The Daily Telegraph. It was devised together with Independent journalist Charles Leadbeater. 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.
A sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, was published in 1999.
A 2001 film adaptation of the original novel was an international success, and a second film followed in 2004.
The book won the 1998 British Book of the Year award and Tracie Bennett won an Audie award for Comedy Best Actress for her audio book narrations of both this and its sequel.
The book's title has been adapted by the blog Bitchy Jones's Diary, which uses it as an exemplar of what is wrong with modern female sexuality.