Author: Helen Fielding
Genre: Fiction, Chick-Lit
First Published: 1999
Fact: Helen Fielding is a comic genius. Now, if only someone told her she didn’t have to try so hard in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Fielding succeeded in turning a beloved character into a laughable caricature.
Bridget Jones is back—and her life is crazier than ever! In Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, we find our hilarious British heroine ‘four weeks and five days in’ in what she describes as a ‘functional relationship with (an) adult male.’ Indeed, everything seems to be going well for our dear, Bridget. She’s happily back to smoking and drinking, she’s a legit TV journalist, she has the dashing Mark Darcy in bed with her—all appears peachy keen.
But not ONE chapter in and the drama starts. Having established the rapport between Bridget, Shazzer, and Jude in the last book, you’d expect a bit of envy from the singletons and miserably-attached. But when her friends accuse her of being a “Smug-Going-Out-with-Someone,” and attempt to convince her that Mark Darcy is cheating on her with his rich and skinny bitch colleague, Rebecca, the whole thing becomes a bit too much. And it only gets worse. Somewhere between Bridget Jones’s Diary and this book, Bridget has sadly become somewhat spineless.
Case in point, when she and Mark find a naked and insane Asian boy on Mark’s bed, she runs off instead of demanding an explanation right off the bat. She automatically assumes that Mark’s some sort of ‘gay bestial pervert.’ Then, when she pays a carpenter an exorbitant sum to install shelves she doesn’t want, and he refuses to work, it’s as if she can’t do anything about the situation. Finally, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime—an interview with Colin Firth—and she screws it up. She misses her plane, botches the interview (because she’s too obsessed with the image of Firth emerging from the lake, soaked and sexy as Mr. Darcy in P&P), and misses her deadline. Although she ends up writing a side-splitting piece, the interview turned out to be immensely cringe-worthy.
THE VIRGIN SUICIDES
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Genre: Fiction; Mystery/Drama
First Published: 1993
“Offering a stark and profound take on teenage suicide and how it affects an entire community, The Virgin Suicides is an extraordinary debut piece from an exceptional novelist.”
Set in Grosse Point, Michigan in the 1970s, The Virgin Suicides recounts the events leading to and following the suicides of the Lisbon sisters. In the book, Jeffrey Eugenides shows the viewpoint of a community trying to make sense of the girls’ deaths. The story is told in the first person plural perspective, where the narrator is a member of a group of boys who went to school with the sisters.
Like the rest of the community, the boys experience an intense fascination with the Lisbon sisters. Years after the girls’ deaths, the narrator is still remembering, recounting the events leading to the girls’ suicides. Interviews are conducted and recorded. Personal items are gathered as ‘evidence’. All possible information about the sisters are compiled and recorded in this book.
The book opens with the final suicide attempt from the last Lisbon daughter, Mary. Mary had overdosed on sleeping pills. Although the paramedics find her breathing, all efforts to save her are futile. Like the rest of her sisters, Mary was meant to die. Take it from the book’s title. This isn’t the case of a single suicide. All five of the Lisbon girls die—some in particularly gruesome ways.
BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY
Author: Helen Fielding
Genre: Non-Fiction; Comedy/Chick-Lit
First Published: 1996
“Deliciously candid and absolutely hilarious, Bridget Jones’s Diary is the type of book one keeps on the bedside table for emergency laughs and instant pick-me-ups. V. v. good.”
Some books are meant to be read once, others are meant to be reread until the pages fall out. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding falls under the second category. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this book a literary masterpiece comparable to the works of Maya Angelou, Jane Austen, or the Brönte sisters, it really is quite a book. Its unflinching and comic portrayal of single women (singletons) and smug marrieds is absolutely spot-on.
True to its name, this book reads like an actual diary with daily entries where Bridget tracks everything from her weight to her calorie consumption, cigarette count to alcohol units. You’ll see her mood fluctuate along with her weight as she goes from one addiction to another—moving from cigarettes to lottery tickets and afternoon cocktails to smoothies.
With every confession Bridget makes, she also voices out the reader’s innermost fears, nagging insecurities, and irrational musings. Whether it’s a tendency to weigh oneself obsessively, count each calorie, chase after the “wrong” guy, smoke too many cigarettes, consume copious amounts of alcohol before 5 p.m., or rely too heavily on self-help books to solve romance and self-esteem issues—Bridget’s candid confessions will strike a chord somewhere. In my case, this book brought to light my unhealthy belief that my happiness is inversely related to my weight—that I would only truly be happy if I were a size 2 or less.
THE SECRET LIFE OF LASZLO, COUNT DRACULA
Author: Roderick Anscombe
Genre: Fiction; Horror/Thriller
First Published: 1994
Price: **thrifted** PHP 50.00/$1.17
At 409 pages long, Roderick Anscombe’s The Secret Life of Laszlo, Count Dracula manages to be superfluous and anemic at the same time.
Plot-wise, the book is actually pretty promising. Instead of giving us the traditional monster or the overused charming bloodsucker, Anscombe offers a bumbling and naïve character as his protagonist. The novel, which reads like the main character’s journal, lets the reader delve into the character’s innermost thoughts. We see our unlikely monster spiral into madness until he loses all humanity and becomes the bloodthirsty killer we all know and love.