When I was a girl, Bridget Jones’s Diary was the book my mum told me I wasn’t allowed to read yet. And as a teenager, Bridget Jones was the film Renée Zellweger got fat for. Ten years later a friend gave me a copy of the book for my 26th birthday, outraged that I hadn’t read it before, and within a few pages I was charmed. I found Bridget hilarious and almost unnervingly familiar, though also just exaggerated enough to make me feel above her neuroses. She taught me that there are a lot of things about life that are acutely embarrassing for a woman to be caught doing, but that they will continue doing them anyway – wearing huge M&S pants, endlessly obsessing over messages from boys, and drinking grape and screeching with the girls. Feeling superior to a lovable but scatty acquaintance may not be honorable but it’s definitely enjoyable, which meant the sequel was still full of joy, despite its wildly silly plot. I look forward to catching up with Bridget for a third instalment – how else will I know how not to behave in my forties? Ashleigh Arnott
Calories consumed: a gazillion (gaah). Ludicrous plot twists in new diary: one dead Mr Darcy; one 29-year-old toy boy called Roxter (really?) and one heroine who’s surely old enough to know better. Previous diaries sold: 15 million and counting. Oh, Bridge. When I first read your diary you were a hapless comic genius and the sloppy older sister any girl would like to have. Beneath your hated muffin top and humiliations, you were actually someone girls could want to be (you had a cool job! Witty friends! A flat in London! Which you didn’t have to share!) But then you staggered into that sequel. Job and pals were eclipsed in your setback-the-sisterhood quest to land a fella.
Then it got worse. There were rumours of a movie threequel in which you’d fall pregnant by the posh Daniel Cleaver, then marry chequebook-in-a-novelty-jumper Mark Darcy. And now you’re really back. Careerless, over-tweeting, hiding your grape from your kids’ nanny in a big house that the girls who cheered you on will never afford. Bridge: you’re as dire as any whimpering simpering Victorian heroine – just older and fatter. And who needs fiction to experience that?
Caroline McGinn. ‘Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy’ by Helen Fielding can be bought from www.amazon.com from Dh55.