Contextualizing Bridget Jones

Helen Fielding has been praised for the authentic narrative voice in Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, but critics argue that the novels are anti-feminist because of Bridget's failure to remake herself and to control her life and her narrative. This argument rests on questionable premises: that the self can be remade, and that control is achievable. Bridget interrogates these assumptions, which she identifies as particularly American, recalls Jane Austen, who treats self-improvement ironically, and ultimately rejects the American dream of a perfected self and embraces the Blair-era British communitarianism that facilitates her success and the success of her narrative. Bridget's voice is authentic because it insists that the experience of being out of control and being forced into mutually dependent relationships is unavoidable. Fielding's preoccupation with these issues is echoed in the work of contemporary British novelists A. S. Byatt and Anita Brookner.