About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

#42: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, by Helen Fielding (New York: Penguin, 1999).

"In the phenomenally popular Bridget Jones's Diary, which spent 17 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list, Helen Fielding created the voice of an unforgettable young woman. Bridget's hilarious candor captured the hearts of readers around the world.

"Taking up where the Diary left off, The Edge of Reason follows the next year in Bridget's life. Over the months, she juggles her love for Mark Darcy, advice from her friends and rivalry with the willowy Rebecca, who is slyly pursuing Mark. Bridget's arsenal of self-help books reminds her to be an 'assured, receptive, responsive woman of substance.' But Chardonnay and chocolate are much more accessible.

"Although Bridget Jones has been widely imitated no other's work can match her off-beat charm. Veteran narrator Barbara Rosenblat, who won an Audie Award for her performance of Bridget Jones's Diary, adds a special zest to the whirlwind year."

Opening Line:
"7:15 a.m. Hurrah! The wilderness years are over."

My Take:
To quote our intrepid narrator, GAH! I checked the audiobook version of this one out over the weekend, as I had a long-ish solo road trip to make and wanted something light to enjoy on the way. I've found through experience that just as not all films lend themselves equally well to the drive-in, not all books lend themselves well to being enjoyed on CD, especially if you're in the car. I wanted something engaging enough to a) pass the time, and b) keep me from getting too stressed out about the interview I was driving to, but not so complex that I'd be irreparably lost if a big, noisy truck passed by at an inopportune time.

Let's just say that the original Bridget Jones's Diary, which I read several years back and really enjoyed, would have fit the bill perfectly. While Edge of Reason did make a good road trip book, that's only because it kept me from indulging my strong desire to chuck the book across the room in disgust. I just read an Amazon review suggesting that this book parallels Persuasion the way BJD did Pride and Prejudice, and perhaps if I'd read Persuasion, I'd have enjoyed this one more. Somehow, though, I kinda doubt it.

Admittedly, sequels are tricky. The author needs to keep the characters true enough to what she created in the first book to be recognizable, yet make them grow or change enough to give the reader something new to enjoy and wonder about. Fielding manages the first here, but not the second. The constant obsessing over weight (which, Bridget's oh-so-slimming sojourn in a Thai prison notwithstanding, fluctuates between 129 and 131 pounds -- boo bleeping hoo), counting of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks, and -- gaah! -- self-interruptions may have been endearing in the first book, but wears really thin here. There are funny moments and characters, sure; I think everyone's known a boyfriend-poaching Rebecca or Worst. Boss. Ever. Richard Finch type, and Fielding's versions are so over-the-top as to make our own problems look pretty darned manageable by comparison. And yes, I laughed/groaned at the Thai holiday gone horribly wrong, the not-what-it-looks-like naked Filipino boy Bridget finds in Mark's bed on her first visit to his home, and the results of her CWI (card-writing while intoxicated) ordeal. Bottom line, though, this isn't enough to make up for the irritating light in which Bridget and her two BFFs come off. Sure, I finished the last disc even after I'd arrived home; I knew from the get-go Bridget and Mark would get back together, and had to find out how ... I just wasn't quite sure why.

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