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Daphne Merkin

Bridget Jones Is Back

After more than a decade, the woman who put the chick in lit is ready to give her millions of fans exactly what they want: an update on the life of Bridget Jones

It's a Tuesday night in the middle of August, and the restaurant at the Chateau Marmont is packed with a daunting collection of people who look beautiful or important or famous—or, as it may be, merely aspirational. A fetching hostess brings me to the table where the author Helen Fielding awaits, sipping at a white-wine spritzer, her short nails painted a chic shade of taupey gray. She is wearing a simple, off-white silk dress, a few tasteful pieces of gold jewelry (including a pair of Elsa Peretti earrings I've always coveted), and an oversize watch. Within minutes—make that seconds—of my sitting down, the two of us are chatting away like old friends and each ordering the hearty chicken dish instead of one of the more delicate entrées on the menu.

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it probably was someone more like her famously discombobulated fictional heroine, Bridget Jones, and less like the poised and elegantly dressed woman with striking blue-green eyes and a dimpled smile who sits across from me. Fielding, of course, sprang into the spotlight in 1996 with the publication of Bridget Jones's Diary, which, fresh from its successful run in England, became a megahit on these shores. The novel, based on an anonymous column Fielding wrote for The Independent, introduced an American audience to the hilarious and occasionally poignant world of Bridget Jones, a thirtysomething "singleton" who strives heroically to contain her caloric intake, kick her addictions to cigarettes and booze, and find a suitable mate in between suffering through the dinner parties of "Smug Marrieds" and falling for "emotional fuckwits." A sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, followed here in 1999, further familiarizing readers with Bridget's antic energy and on-again, off-again romance with Mark Darcy. The cultural impact of the books was vouchsafed with the release in 2001 of the critically praised film adaptation of the first novel, starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant, with a script cowritten by Fielding.

Elle | October 15, 2013


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