Winner of the British Book of the Year Award in 1998, the novel fast became a literary phenomenon, and with v. good reason. Peppering our conversations with new terms like 'emotional fuckwittage' and 'smug married', Bridget Jones soothed our fears when we became plagued with self-doubt or loathing. Suddenly it was acceptable to admit that you didn't have a clue who the Shadow Cabinet were, or that you crawled into work hungover 4 days out of 5.
It's immensely refreshing to find a female character you can truly empathise with, instead of envying her shiny hair and tiny waist. There's an audible ring of truth to even the most ridiculous aspects of Bridget's musings - realising that calories are actually necessary for survival, attempting to fast-track a transformation in both mind and body before a first date. Whether or not we're brave enough to admit it, most of us will probably find something chillingly familiar between these pages.
If a woman was on the Girls' Team, she could be as beautiful, intelligent, rich, famous, sexy, successful and as popular as fuck, and you'd still like her. Women on the Girls' Team had solidarity. They were conspiratorial and brought all their fuck-ups to the table for everyone to enjoy. - Helen Fielding, Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination
Bridget, without a 5 o’clock shadow of a doubt, is on the Girls' Team. She brings everything to the table. Each embarrassing episode. Every guilty pleasure. As so many of us have discovered in the post-feminist era, it’s a constant struggle to meet the endless demands of the ‘having it all’ lifestyle that somebody, somewhere decided we should all be enjoying.
Thou shalt juggle marriage, motherhood and Michelin-starred cooking, alongside a career, a sparkling social life and at least 3 gym sessions per week. Who, faced with such expectation, wouldn’t seek solace in a bottle of wine or a glamorous fantasy? And who can cope with it all without an ironic sense of humour and a faint air of ridiculousness? Whoever they are, I doubt I'd be very interested in their diary.
It's much more than a book. When you say Bridget, it conjures up a whole world. - Pamela Dorman, U.S Editor
Although the plot may sometimes amble about like it’s had one too many drinks and missed the last bus home, Fielding's merciless eye for detail makes up for any lull in pace. This book is a truly distinctive satire of the 90s and all who sailed in her. Men Are From Mars, Noel Edmonds, the mini-break: all expertly yet affectionately put in their place.
Message Jones: Think I might love you, though not in a lesbian way
Elizabeth Gleick, New York Times: show me the woman to whom this sort of stream-of-consciousness, self-assessing mental clutter is unfamiliar and I'll show you the person who will not think ''Bridget Jones's Diary'' is both completely hilarious and spot on
Publisher’s Weekly: it's hard to imagine a funnier book appearing anywhere this year
Nicola Shulman, Times Literary Supplement: Doubtless these are the staples of comedy, but Helen Fielding's skilful timing and her intermittently exact ear for the ludicrous utterance ("I'm taking you to have your colours done", announces Bridget's mother, "& you look like something out of Chairman Mao") have made them look young again.
Ella Taylor, LA Weekly: the heroine spends the entire novel growing a mind of her own, and gets the richest, handsomest, most eligible guy not by reducing her thigh circumference or brushing up on her cocktail prattle, but by being her candid, smart, adorable, ineluctably English self
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: the voice Fielding gives her - confessional but not whiny, at sea but not drowning, funny but not begging for laughs - is distinctive.
Cara Mia Di Massa, Los Angeles Times: Bridget Jones, the enchanting figment of Helen Fielding's imagination, is a poster child for the confused woman of the 1990s.
Meghan Daum, Village Voice: Similarly, female humor too often allows in the empty Häagen-Dazs container of Cathy comic strips and stand-up comediennes ranting about PMS and husbands' dirty socks. The great triumph of Bridget Jones's Diary is the way Fielding has shirked that sensibility for something infinitely more sophisticated and yet made full use of the same kitsch-for-feminists zeitgeist that dogs her narrator.
Francis Gilbert: Bridget Jones's Diary… is one of the most important novels of the 1990s. Not only has its phenomenal popularity spawned numerous imitations, it has introduced an entirely new fictional voice.