Bridget Jones's Diary
By Lisa Schwarzbaum,
Bridget Jones is smart, funny, thirtysomething, and single. She eats too much junk food, spends too much time on the phone, and wastes too much emotional energy on her womanizing boss, who flirts with her via office E-mail. Her family worries about her. Her girlfriends commiserate with her. You've read her literature under the bylines Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Judith Krantz; you've seen her on TV, nicknamed Rhoda, Elaine, Ally. I think it was Flaubert who said, ''Bridget Jones, c'est moi.''
The imperfect and therefore perfectly lovable heroine of Bridget Jones's Diary, Fielding's addictive snack food of a comic novel, is indubitably British; no American Cosmo girl would admit to smoking and drinking so lustily. But her plight is universal in the post-Superwoman '90s, while the voice Fielding gives her -- confessional but not whiny, at sea but not drowning, funny but not begging for laughs
- is distinctive. As heard in diary entries that chart a year's activities, complete with self-improvement resolutions (she'd like to attain ''inner poise'' but would settle for getting to work on time), lists of food items consumed (there's her weakness for cold potatoes), and moments noted in all their fleeting urgency (''April 4, 9:10
a.m. ...realize hair is drying in weird shape''), Bridget's is the true sound of a smart woman whose choices are not that foolish, really. Aside from a mooning attachment to her two-timing sometime lover, her biggest stupid mistake may be refusing to give the time of day to a perfectly nice, available man (called, with Jane-ite pointedness, Mark Darcy) for the simple reason that he's perfectly nice and available and therefore must be imperfect. That Fielding, who created Bridget's world newspaper column by column (the way Armistead Maupin grew Tales of the City), is now a literary sensation in England is hardly surprising. This juicy diary tells the truth with a verve as appealing to men on Mars as it is to Venusian women.