(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bridget Jones’s diary starts the new year the way many diaries do—with a bundle of resolutions, which in order to be followed would necessitate either the joining of a religious community or the complete obliteration of the personality of the diarist in question. As neither of these are options for Bridget, she does one of the very things she vowed not to do in her resolutions: fall for a man who is completely commitment-phobic, her boss at the publishing house, Daniel Cleaver.

This romance, the main event of the first half of the novel (a novel that covers each month of the calendar year), is constantly framed by Bridget’s interactions with her friends. No action of Daniel is too small to be analyzed by Bridget’s loyal trio of pals: the explosively opinionated Shazzer, the delicate Jude, and appearance-obsessed Tom, a homosexual. At least once a week the four get together, and the meetings, in addition to being a forum for discussing Bridget’s problems, also involve Shazzer proclaiming stridently her vision of feminism; Jude complaining and worrying about her own commitment-phobic boyfriend, Vile Richard; and Tom alternately offering advice to all and wondering aloud about his own tenuous relationship with Pretentious Jerome. (The epithets “vile” and “pretentious” are Bridget’s own, and are, in the diary, inseparable from the actual names.)

The other significant characters in the novel are Bridget’s parents. From the outset, they are having problems. After more than thirty years of marriage, Bridget’s mother decides to separate from her husband and pursue a career as a television presenter. Although she denies it to Bridget, she also becomes romantically involved with a person of questionable character, a Portuguese man named Julio. Bridget’s father, crushed by these developments, becomes a shell of his former self, so Bridget finds herself besieged by embarrassingly personal...

(The entire section is 788 words.)