Book Review: Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make this my first book review since I ended my hiatus from this blog. It feels more apt to come back with a book I absolutely loved (spoiler alert, sorry), but I honestly haven’t read any books that I’m obsessed with recently.

Better to come back with something to say rather than a boring review…

Spoiler-Free Thoughts

First of all, it’s important to acknowledge that I, like most people, am very familiar with the film adaptation. It’s almost like a rite of passage to watch Bridget Jones with your mum in England at this point, and I’ve rewatched it more than once. Because of this, I didn’t go into this book with zero judgements and expectations, and that definitely affected my opinion about it.

Once thing I will note that probably seems obvious, is that the diary form is much more enforced than in the film. Every chapter is an entry into Bridget’s diary, and I think this does actually add to the connection you form with the central character. You’re even more aware that this is her innermost thoughts, and I think I became more invested in her as a result.

This is a classic example of ‘chick-lit’, and if you go in wanting a semi-mindless escapist book then you’ll probably have a really enjoyable reading experience. Is it Chaucer? No. But it does what it’s trying to do very well, and I think it would make a great holiday read. I’m definitely not trying to reinforce the idea that anything marketed as for ‘chicks’ has less value and should be ridiculed, because reading anything has value and worth in itself if you enjoy it.

There are some issues with the book that really damaged my reading experience though. I definitely expected there to be more plot, and this is a far more character-driven novel. I didn’t feel like there was a great amount of character development though, which you would normally expect from a book that’s low on plot. Some people were revealed to be not what they seemed, but that was more of a character twist than development. I think it’s something I’m far more used to seeing in more recent books, and perhaps Fielding was writing just before that trend started.

There are also some problematic ideas and attitudes in this novel, and I would advise anyone who is thinking of reading it to just look at some content warnings. There is frequent mentioning of specific weights, fatphobic comments, and calorie counting throughout, and I do think some of the things said surrounding this could be harmful to someone who was struggling. There is also a comment about sexual harassment at work that hasn’t aged well, so keep that in mind as well.

Scroll to the end of this review to see my rating if you don’t want any spoilers!

In-Depth Thoughts (Spoilers!)

The main thing I noticed between the book and the film was how strangely paced it was. You join Bridget when she’s single with a simple work crush, and before you know it she’s moved in with Daniel Cleaver. Then he gets exposed as a cheater and she’s single again, with brief mentions of Mark Darcy throughout. Suddenly, she’s dating Mark, her mum’s a wanted person, and then at the end he announces his love for her. It just doesn’t seem to follow the timeline established by other romance or chick-lit books, let alone real world logic. It just made me far less invested in the characters and their relationships because nothing felt realistic.

The men also seemed to be presented differently than I expected, with Daniel becoming almost intolerable. Without Hugh Grant’s face attached to his character, he becomes a sleazy office flirt who becomes boring the second you start seeing them, and then has the audacity to cheat on you. Maybe my tolerance for men misbehaving in relationships is lower than women in the late ‘90s, but I just wasn’t sucked in by him. Mark Darcy, on the other hand, was awkward but not as stand-offish as he was in the film. His characterisation was certainly more appealing, but their relationship had no depth to it. It just wasn’t to my taste.

Bridget herself just doesn’t really develop over the course of the book. Sure, she ends up with the nice guy not the player, and maybe she’s got a bit more self love, but she’s ultimately the same as she was when she wrote the first diary entry. This, again, is a sign the book has not aged very well, because I wanted more from her. I really wanted her to realise her worth outside of her relationships, because although she’s an honest and open look at female insecurity, I wanted to find escapism from this through the book. The constant criticism of her weight and appearance got really taxing, and I think it would be a better story if this was toned down slightly.

After all the complaining, I want to highlight some of the aspects that I did like. This book is really funny, and it provides the same entertainment as reality TV or a soap opera does. I was not bored reading this book, which is a great success considering I basically knew the whole plot going into it. I also think that Fielding writes a really great representation of female friendships, and it was nice to read something in which these are given the appropriate level of narrative attention. Bridget Jones’ Diary is also a key text in the chick-lit genre, and it would be a massive oversight to overlook the huge influence it’s had on later popular literature.

Final Thoughts and Rating

Overall, Fielding’s book does what it says on the tin. It’s a feel-good, mindless book written to entertain and give escapism. There are some issues with the book in terms of pacing and character development, and certain elements haven’t aged well, so coming to this completely new to Bridget Jones might not leave you with the most favourable impression, but if you love chick-lit it’s worth a read for sure.

I’m giving Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding 2.5 stars.


The Watsons by Jane Austen

Jane Austen is one of the most famous English authors of all time. Everyone is bound to have read one of her books at some point, whether it be at school or out of personal choice. However, The Watsons is one of her less well-known works.

It is an unfinished story that focuses on Emma Watson, who is cast out of her rich Aunt’s house and has to return to the family home. Upon doing so, she becomes entangled with her sisters’ search for a suitor, and begins to negotiate her place in polite society.

I’m not going to split my review into spoiler-free and spoiler sections, because I don’t think there’s enough to say without addressing specific details, and as the book is unfinished there’s not really anything to spoil in terms of plot. Like this story, my review will be short. If you don’t want to know specific details, feel free to exit this review now!


I think what’s most interesting about The Watsons is the fact it’s unfinished. Thinking about why Austen abandoned this novel, and how the plot may have developed had she not abandoned it, adds a dimension of intrigue to the novel. I actually think it helps to remove the barriers that are seen to surround the giants of classics because it shows that they were humans too. If you’re an aspiring author, surely that’s a far more inspiring perspective to take of Jane Austen than simply looking at her most successful novels.

Unfortunately, however, this story isn’t the most interesting in terms of its actual content. It doesn’t really have any elements that are unique from the other Austen novels- even the main characters’ name is the same as the more popular Emma. If you never read The Watsons, you won’t have missed out on much.

All the problems with this book do ultimately come down to the fact it is unfinished. The plot never really goes anywhere, and all the set up never pays off because of this. It’s hard to invest much in the characters, or form a personal opinion on them, because we don’t have enough time around them or see how the consequences of their actions and attitudes.

The writing, of course, is great, and Austen captures polite society and its inner workings perfectly. But for me, this book has little of the charm that other Austen novels do, and good writing unfortunately isn’t enough to make this an engaging read.

Concluding Thoughts

If you’re a big Austen fan, then definitely give this a read. It’s very short, and it’ll give you a much more grounded view of her development as an author and her story writing process. It is interesting to consider why she abandoned this story, and I do think if she hadn’t have done it would’ve made for a very engaging read.

However, if you don’t like classics or you aren’t that interested in Austen beyond her popular works, I would say give this a miss. It’s nothing different from any other work, and reading Emma would be a more interesting alternative to this story with a similar plot.

Overall, I would give The Watsons by Jane Austen 2 stars


Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

When Amanda and Clay take their two children for a countryside getaway, they end up being more cut off than they bargained for. After arriving at their holiday home, they quickly realise a disaster has hit New York City when the homeowners, Ruth and G.H., turn up on their doorstep. Without service, internet or connection to the outside world, the families must work together to figure out how to stay safe from the world, and each other.

Overall Thoughts (Spoiler-Free)

Firstly, I think describing this book as a ‘literary thriller’ is misleading. This book works much more on suspense, the fear of the unknown and a suffocating yet terrifyingly detached atmosphere. If you go into this book expecting this rather than conventional ‘thriller’ tropes, I think you’d have a better experience.

Alam really masterfully underpins the normally comforting feeling of holiday isolation with something more sinister, and the characters’ worries and fears are passed onto you as a reader. This book is more of a slow burn, but I think that partially helps to build this atmosphere. You always feel like you’re there with the characters, waiting for something to happen, hoping it’s not as bad as your imagination suggests.

The characters are not particularly likeable, and although I think Alam does this on purpose to add to the suffocating atmosphere of his novel, I did end up getting tired of them by the end of the book. By the end of the book (which is less than 300 pages long) I didn’t really care what happened to the characters, which really killed my investment in the plot.

Overall, I was disappointed with this book. It didn’t really do anything for me personally, but I have seen a lot of positive reviews for it. If you like slow-burn, apocalyptic novels, then it might be worth trying Leave the World Behind.

Also, just a quick PSA, there is a lot of talk about sex and bodily fluids in this novel. It’s not written erotically, but characters do randomly talk about their genitalia and masturbation more often than I would’ve liked.

Id also probably give a content warning for this book. If you have health anxiety or emetophohia, this might not be the book for you.

If you don’t want to see any spoilers, skip to the end of this review to see my rating.

Plot and Characters Review (Spoilers!)

Was there really a plot to this book? Things happen, of course; a family go on holiday; some strangers turn up on the doorstep; they lose power, service and internet connection; Clay gets lost trying to get a newspaper and turns down a crying woman’s pleas for help; animals start to act strange; Archie gets sick; Rosie gets lost in the woods and finds another house. But they stay just like that, a list of things that are connected but never come together to offer a satisfying narrative.

Even considering this as an apocalypse novel, I wasn’t scared because none of the odd events had real consequences. The random deer herd appearing never had any impact, nor did the flamingo. The noise did seemingly cause Archie’s illness but we never get to see the result of that so it’s really diminished. Ruth and G.H. arriving didn’t give me a sense of danger, and they never seemed like a threat to the family. When the children are lost in the woods, we know they’ve gone exploring and so it doesn’t seem that shocking when they’re eventually found and are safe again.

I think my main problem is how little space Alam allocates to the family realising they’re in an apocalyptic situation. Yes, the service is out for most of the novel, but at first the characters aren’t really affected by this beyond an annoyance that they can’t watch. By the time Archie gets ill and all the characters go into panic mode, there is so few pages left that it almost seems like an afterthought. The noise isn’t really considered by the characters, so the suggestion that it somehow caused Archie’s decline feels really flat and a quick way to add more apocalyptic elements into the novel.

I think Amanda might be one of my least favourite characters ever written. I know this is on purpose, she’s an upward-reaching white woman who wants to be in full control of what her family are doing and yet falls apart under pressure. Clay is not much better, and seems more concerned with his genitals and toxic masculinity for most of the novel until the real danger comes and he realises he has none of the necessary skills or qualities to actually be of use in an apocalypse.

G.H. and Ruth at least make the couple tone done their weird sex and perfect family charade. Ruth is similar to Amanda but I think her being older and less brash helps her to be at least palatable. G.H. takes on the figure of a grandad and to be honest he is the only adult with much sense.

I didn’t have many issues with Archie and Rosie, which is maybe because the narrative wasn’t really focused on them or filtered through them. I liked the fact Rosie just went off on her own and tried to find some supplies to save her family at the end of the book, which was probably the most useful thing any of them did.

To be honest, I was just frustrated when I reached the end of this book and none of the building amounted to anything. For all the bad points, it wasn’t an awful read, and it was saved by the fact it was so short. I just wish Alam showed the after effects of the apocalypse.

Concluding Thoughts and Rating

Leave the World Behind wasn’t for me. I’m not the biggest fan of apocalypse novels, so it might be that this book just didn’t gel with my personal tastes. I definitely wouldn’t discourage someone from reading this if the concept made them really excited, but it was disappointing for me.

I’m giving Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam 2.5 stars.


2.5 Stars