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Second-rate Bridget Jones
on 25 June 2009
Whether Arabella Weir had read or even heard of Bridget Jones' Diary before she began to write this novel, I don't know. If she had, such an obvious attempt to cash in with a clone deserves to fall flat. If she hadn't, then maybe it's just sheer back luck that this book reads like a poor imitation of Helen Fielding's mega-hit. The structure of the two novels is remarkably similar - weight-obsessed, unlucky in love woman bemoans her romantic and diet disasters in diary form - but sadly for Weir, without similar success levels. Yes, Bridget Jones was a neurotic character, but Helen Fielding made her endearing and quirky; Jacqui Payne is just wet. Where Bridget seems naive, Jacqui seems thick. The character's insecurities become overwhelming and annoying, and her complete failure to spot the obvious is simply irritating after a while. It's really stretching a point to make us believe that two men would fall in love with her at the same time; most would want to strangle her within an hour.
If this book hadn't been up against a worldwide hit in the same genre, the things that are good about it (there are some genuinely funny moments) might have stood out and taken it above the average. As it is, an ultimately poorly drawn lead character and an unconvincing ending mire this firmly in the forgettable airport fiction category.