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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 434

Bridget Jones's Diary (Picador, 1996) is an epistolary novel by British writer Helen Fielding. It is known especially as the inspiration for the the 1999 film adaptation.

The novel is divided into twelve chapters, each representing a month of the year. The novel begins with a list of New Years...

(The entire section contains 1222 words.)

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Bridget Jones's Diary (Picador, 1996) is an epistolary novel by British writer Helen Fielding. It is known especially as the inspiration for the the 1999 film adaptation.

The novel is divided into twelve chapters, each representing a month of the year. The novel begins with a list of New Years Resolutions, which includes two separate lists of what the narrator will not and will do. The first ("I Will Not") list includes things such as spending more than she earns, falling for certain types of men, or having more than fourteen alcoholic drinks per week. Bridget wants to do things such as quitting smoking, reducing the size of her thighs, being confident and assertive, and giving away some clothing.

The beginning of many chapters includes a log of Bridget's weight, alcoholic beverages consumed, caloric intake, and number of cigarettes. The narrator is snarky and sarcastic, remarking on the irony that she is beginning the new year in a bed in her parents' house. Her parents are having a New Years Party which they want her to attend, as they are especially interested in her forming a relationship with a wealthy, divorced lawyer, Mark Darcy. Meanwhile, even as soon as her New Year's Day entry, Bridget is making exceptions to her resolutions to not eat as much and to quit smoking.

Bridget begins dating Daniel Cleaver, her boss at work. He is witty and charming but unreliable. Nevertheless, Bridget continues to pursue him. When Bridget's parents separate, her mother runs away with a Portuguese man named Julio. Shortly after this, Bridget finds another woman at Daniel's apartment. These events prompt Bridge to focus on her career, and so she gets a job in television.

Mark Darcy reappears for a date with Bridget, but she does not hear the doorbell. Later, she invites him to a dinner party at her apartment, but, on the evening of her party, it is discovered that her mother's boyfriend, Julio, has extorted money from her family. Darcy (an attorney) sets himself to getting it back. When Bridget does not hear from him, she assumes that the events at the dinner party scared him off.

On Christmas Day, Mark, who has been chasing Julio and trying to recover Bridget's family's money in Portugal, arrives at Bridget's Christmas party and declares his love for her. Bridget reflects on her goals, declaring that she is glad that, despite not having achieved all of her New Years' resolutions, she has found a wonderful man.

Fielding's novel was named the 1998 Book of the Year and was followed by a sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, in 1999.

Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 788

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 phone calls from him and from her mother.

Meanwhile, Bridget and Daniel have been going together for a few months, and though there have been a few hitches in their relationship, Bridget finds she is very much in love with him. However, her earlier misgivings about Daniel are confirmed when he ducks out, at the last minute, from participating in a family costume party the two had been invited to attend. The “tarts and vicars” costume theme is abandoned by the host, but that message is never delivered to Bridget, so she is forced to endure catty jokes and horrid small talk while wearing a come-hither street-woman outfit, complete with a bunny tail on the back. Utterly embarrassed, she stops by Daniel’s apartment after the party for a comforting word, only to find that he has not been working as he claimed he would be but has in fact been with another woman. Furious, Bridget quits her job at the publishing house, and, with the help of her mother’s newfound connections, finds work as a reporter for a local television station.

It is at this point that Mark Darcy becomes a character of interest to Bridget. A childhood playmate of Bridget’s, the now divorced Mark is introduced to the reader at the beginning of the novel at a Christmas party with Bridget’s family; in fact, Bridget’s mother is trying to set the two of them up. Bridget’s first impression of Mark as a cold and harsh person is reinforced later in the novel at the costume party, when he openly criticizes Daniel to Bridget. Events in the second half of the novel, however, will make Bridget reexamine her initial feelings.

Bridget is assigned to cover a front-page human rights lawsuit, but she misses the interview time because she is making a run for cigarettes and believes she will certainly be fired. However, Mark Darcy, who is the acting attorney in the case, happens to be fetching cigarettes for his client at the same moment as Bridget, and in a gesture of generosity, he grants an exclusive interview between his client and Bridget. The avenues are now open for Mark and Bridget to begin a romance of their own, but not before Mark has done another good deed to seal his reputation in Bridget’s eyes.

When Bridget’s mother leaves the country with Julio and thousands of pounds scammed from her friends and family, it is Mark who follows Julio to Portugal to make sure Bridget’s mother is returned safely. After this is accomplished, he commandeers Julio’s capture in England at the annual Christmas party, and he rescues Bridget from another lonely holiday by whisking her away to an expensive hotel suite. There he confesses his love for Bridget, and the diaries conclude with the two together in bed.

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