A spicy read?

Jennie Bristow reviews Geri Halliwell's If Only and Helen Fielding's The Edge of Reason.

Reproduced from LM magazine, issue 127, February 2000.

Like the original Bridget Jones’s Diary, the sequel is witty, well-observed and keeps you turning the pages.

Telephone conversations between singleton Bridge and married-with-toddlers Magda (‘Bridget, hi! I was just ringing to say in the potty! In the potty! Do it in the potty!’) are as fresh as Bridget’s appraisal of New Labour: ‘Labour stands for…sharing, kindness, gays, single mothers and Nelson Mandela as opposed to braying bossy men having affairs with everyone shag-shag-shag left, right and centre and going off to the Ritz in Paris then telling all the presenters off on the Today programme.’

But this book should never have been written.

Fielding’s success with Bridget Jones’s Diary elevated Bridget Jones from a character to a cultural icon. In the public mind, Bridget has come to represent a generation of women and her diary a literary trend. Now, bringing her back down to Earth as a character simply does not work. The Edge of Reason reads like copycat fiction - even though Fielding is the one everybody else is copying. Bridget’s expressions (Gaaah! Hurrah! Grrrr, etc) read like irritating clichés - even though she created them. See what I mean?

When the story degenerates into pure feel-good, with Bridget surviving a Thai jail and a death threat to end up cosily coupled with her bloke and a great career opportunity on the horizon, you definitely know it is time for Fielding to move on. And not to the diaries of single men.

The word on the street is that Geri Halliwell wrote her own autobiography - and tragically, this seems like it could be true. Five times too long, the style of If Only wrecks a good yarn. Geri’s story is of a working-class girl made good, if not through talent then through sheer determination, throwing herself into everything from topless modelling to game-show hostessing in Turkey, before ending up with the Spice Girls. You have to admire her chutzpah.

The only insight in 366 pages of bad prose is just how upfront Geri will be about her lack of musical passion. She may have reached number one (with a little help from a mega marketing blitz), but as she explains, ‘being a popstar isn’t a long-term career. It’s something you do when you’re young’.

Hopefully that will end all comparisons between the Spices and The Beatles. But who needs an interest in music when your goal is to be the new Princess Di?

Reproduced from LM magazine, issue 127, February 2000.

For permission to republish spiked articles, please contact Viv Regan.

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