Fielding adds antics but maintains realism in ‘Bridget’ sequel

Hurrah! Bridget is back! Helen Fielding, the author who received praise for her hilarious portrait of the British singleton looking for romance in all the wrong places, has blessed her readers with a second helping of Bridget Jones’s delightful daily trials and triumphs.

As readers learned in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” Miss Jones is the embodiment of all the insecurities and worries present in a woman’s life, exaggerated to the nth degree.

Always fighting the “battle of the bulge,” the slightly overweight Bridget weighs herself daily and records the reading at the beginning of each diary entry. She turns to self-help books, which she refers to as “the new religion,” for guidance. She manages to over-analyze every aspect of her life to a fault, usually over drinks and inhales Milk Tray (a specific type of boxed chocolates, for you non-Brits) with her best chums Jude, Shazzer and Tom.

Plagued by the interrogations of “smug marrieds,” Bridget is terrified of her possible fate as a lifelong “spinster and lunatic.” In the process of her journey toward the ultimate goal of holy matrimony, she always trips and falls – both literally and figuratively – at least a couple of times along the way. All of these facets of Bridget come together to form a most intriguing perspective of the world around her.

Some may know that Fielding’s comic masterpiece, the first diary, was very loosely based on Jane Austen’s classic tale of courting and propriety, “Pride and Prejudice.” Apparently an Austen fan, this time Fielding takes her cues from “Persuasion.”

At the conclusion of Bridget’s first diary, we leave her as she finally commences a relationship with boyfriend Mark Darcy (the modern-day equivalent of Mr. Darcy from “Pride an Prejudice”). After all the troubles she had snagging him, you’d think Fielding might let her remain in her “state of romantic bliss,” but that would make for a rather boring book.

Bring in Bridget’s worst nightmare – “a beautiful and skinny woman” named Rebecca who works in close proximity to Darcy and blatantly and actively pursues him while he is dating Bridget. Despite the affirmation that Darcy likes Bridget “the way she is” and their supposedly splendid shagging sessions, Miss Jones is not yet comfortable enough with herself to trust Darcy.

Each diary entry is proof of Bridget’s search for the “inner poise” she lacks and desires. For example, on Mar. 5, she writes that she is an “assured, receptive, responsive woman of substance. My sense of self comes not from other people but from myself? That can’t be right.” Such behavior naturally leads to a strain on the relationship and to its eventual self-destruction. Bridget’s greatest fear is realized: she is a singleton once again! Will she be able to reclaim her man?

Increasing the complexity of this disaster are a crazy trip to Thailand and jail time, her mother’s usual antics and the brief and unwanted return of her first “love,” her sleazy former boss Daniel Cleaver, all which make for one amusing piece of fiction.

Fielding brought a sense of realism to the original diary. In “The Edge of Reason,” she still maintains this realism in Bridget’s character, but, as implied in the title, the plot can at times verge on the ridiculous. That, however, is not a problem when it comes to thoroughly enjoying this book. It is guaranteed to make all readers laugh out loud, especially women, who will cry out, “This is me!”

For further entertainment, Ren?e Zellweger will reprise her role as the intrepid Bridget in the movie adaptation of “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” which is set to be released Nov. 19.