I hadn’t really intended on reading this book even though I was aware of it and knew it was loosely based on Pride and Prejudice (one of my favorite books), but someone recommended it to me and lent me her copy, so I figured I would give it a shot.
At first I wasn’t a fan of the diary-style writing. The other books I’m reading right now are a lot more formal. After I got into it and started to care more about Bridget’s life, the style didn’t bother me as much. It’s still not my prefered choice, but I am content with it. Once I did get past the diary-entry format, I was able to examine other undertones in the novel, and while I did enjoy reading this novel, there were definitely some themes that I wasn’t thrilled about.
Even though Bridget is in her thirties, I felt she had a lot of issues I would have thought a much less mature protagonist would have started working through. She is incredibly insecure about her body and appears to binge and then not eat much afterwards. It’s an unhealthy mindset and while there was one part where I thought she was going to have a breakthrough in her body-image, the story kind of backs away from it. The book could have been much richer had they dealt with Bridget’s obsessive habits instead of just mentioning them and then dropping them whenever there was more action to be had. It’s an important issue and I wish Fielding had examined it a bit more than by just documenting Bridget’s consumed calories. Ultimately, her body issues go unresolved, and appear to serve only as a tool to make her more relatable.(Not that being relatable is a bad thing, there was just so much missed potential.)
Even without inattention to Bridget’s obsessive habits, I just didn’t like her as much as I like Elizabeth Bennet. To me, they are very different characters, and I’m not just talking about the absence of a petticoat. Elizabeth, while spirited and opinionated, is not vulgar. I often was turned off by some of the things that Bridget would say or do. I wasn’t a big fan of her drinking or smoking habits either. Yes they are both readers (supposedly-Bennet for sure is, and Bridget is supposed to be, but she never does seem to read the book she keeps mentioning and seems to prefer a party, though there is an surprising lack of dances at any of them). By no means do I hate Bridget, I just don’t think she is modern-day Elizabeth.
I would have liked to see more of Mark Darcy. I enjoyed him (as I was supposed to, but not as much as the real Mr. Darcy), but unfortunately most of his appearances were near the end of the story. I also felt that Mark and Bridget fell for eachother a bit too easily. Maybe easy isn’t the right adjective. The two did have many difficulties during their courtship, but I do not feel they spent an adequate amount of time together to truly fall for eachother. I mean, how many conversations have those two actually had? Yes attraction is important, but it seems to be the majority of their relationship at this point. (That’s not to say I believe they shouldn’t be together-they totally should.) Hmm…Guess I’ll just have to read the next one to get more of Mark and Bridget together. I’m not complaining. (My neglected homework might be though…)
Don’t let my criticisms of this novel fool you, I truly did enjoy this novel. Once I got into it, I was hooked and wanted to know how the story would play out. I just think it could have been more than it was. It was definitely good enough for me to start the sequel as soon as I have a chance.