“Noon. London. My flat. Ugh. The Last thing on earth I feel physically, emotionally or mentally equipped to do is drive to Una and Geoffrey Alconbury’s New Year’s Day Turkey Curry Buffet in Grafton Underwood.”
As my Twitter profile (@lauracholawka) will tell you, I have recently begun to think of myself as a kind of cross between Thursday Next (see my review of The Eyre Affair if you’re not familiar with this particular literary heroine) and Bridget Jones. Thursday has echoes of some of the personality traits I’m quite proud of, and a similarity with her is perhaps a little more wishful thinking than anything else, but I think we’re all allowed a smidgen of self delusion now and again. My similarities to Bridget however, are painfully obvious. She’s single, she lives in London, she works in publishing (OK, I’m still working on that one!) and she makes her way through a succession of personal and professional crises with food, wine, friends and a huge stack of books. Self help books in her case, which aren’t my particular choice of escape route from reality, but I still find myself occasionally wondering if I will die alone and be found three weeks later half eaten by alsatians. I hope not.
In actual fact, I would be very surprised if most women couldn’t find something in common with Bridget, and therein lies her appeal. The book reads like the neurotic ramblings of your best friend. It’s funny and comforting and it gives all single girls hope, or at least a sense of solidarity. Helen Fielding has created a modern classic, and my copy has undergone more re-readings than I could possibly count. The writing is witty and insightful, and can make you laugh out loud. To me, a book that can elicit such a response is getting things right. I have read many books that are amusing, but it takes a special writer to have you laughing so much you end up looking like an Alice Cooper tribute act. If you are a woman, read this book. If you are a man, read it as well, you might develop a little more sympathy for us.
As a final note, if you want a 30 something male view of life and relationships, give High Fidelity by Nick Hornby a try. It doesn’t quite sneak into my top 5 (if you read it, you’ll see what I did there!) but it’s a great book.
“It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It’s like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting ‘Cathy’ and banging your head against a tree.”