Self-improvement is paramount to Bridget’s well-being. She’s going to achieve inner poise and free her thighs entirely of cellulite. Kick start a career. Maintain a functional relationship with a suitable male. Give up smoking for more than an hour at a time. Finish reading The Famished Road.
But it’s difficult to get anything done when you’re continually bombarded by personal crises and chocolate croissants. Then there's the increasingly audible ticking of that pesky biological clock.
Written as a diary, the novel documents a year during which Ms Jones is determined to dust down and shape up her personal and professional life.
Her plans go slightly awry when she's emotionally blackmailed into spending the first day of the New Year in Northamptonshire, at a Turkey Curry Buffet hosted by her parents' friends. An ulterior motive for the invitation is soon revealed – Bridget’s mother is determined to toss her into the path of the recently divorced, disconcertingly successful barrister, Mark Darcy.
A hungover Bridget and reluctant Mark fail to get beyond a few obligatory sentences. Snubbed by a man she isn’t even interested in, Bridget returns to London in a sufficiently weakened state for her boss, Daniel Cleaver, to begin pursuing her. In the months that follow, Bridget and Daniel metaphorically chase each other round the desks with increasingly frantic bouts of instant messaging. After a series of false starts, they finally get to grips with having an actual relationship - until Bridget discovers a tall, thin American blonde hiding on the roof of his flat.
Following this hideous revelation, Bridget feels she has little choice but to leave her job. She begins working in television as a researcher and fumblingly amateur presenter, an opportunity for even more embarrassing mistakes.
To back her up and boss her about are Bridget’s friends: the ‘Singletons’ – Tom, Shazzer and Jude, who ply her with wine and self-help guides; and the ‘Smug Marrieds’ – Magda & Jeremy and Rebecca & Cosmo, who hold crashingly dull dinner parties at which she is expected to meet somebody suitable.
Bridget’s mother takes time out from brow-beating her on her lifestyle (marriage, children, having your colours done) to indulge in the complete opposite: she abandons her mild-mannered husband to pursue a career and an affair with a Portugese salesman, Julio. This wayward course of action culminates in a midnight flit to Albufeira with the cash from fraudulent time-share schemes.
Despite their increasingly awkward exchanges throughout the year, Mark leaps to Bridget's rescue, recovering both the money and Bridget’s mother unscathed. In a triumphant finale, he takes Bridget out for Christmas lunch and they end up spending the rest of the afternoon in a hotel suite, doing things which make Bridget ‘spontaneously combust with shame.’