By Holly Kinsella, author of Uptown Girl
News about the forthcoming Bridget Jones was released recently. It struck me as quite strange that many called Helen Fielding's first diary the original chick-lit novel. I couldn't help think that those who did so had not actually read the book, for if they had they would have realised how much Bridget Jones's Diary owes a debt to Jane Austen. There are some wonderful in-jokes in the Diary, which are borne from affection rather than satire, in regards to Pride & Prejudice. Of course the in-joke and irony is increased further when we come to the movies, in which Colin Firth plays Mark Darcy.
A multitude of novels before and since Bridget Jones have owed a debt to Pride & Prejudice and Emma, but her work particularly resonates for chick-lit authors. Bridget Jones - and my own creation of Emma Hastings - are direct descendants of the witty, spirited and all too human heroines of Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse. Austen also provides modern novelists with templates for our heroes and villains - many characters from chick-lit novels are either a Wickham or Darcy (whether the author is conscious of this or not). Family and friends also feature heavily in chick-lit and again Austen is a master at describing how exasperating - and wonderful - those relationships can be. Whether commenting upon marriage, class, ambition or love Austen speaks through the ages. She is always relevant - and never dull. In some respects we do Austen a great disservice by solely judging her books as works of great literature. She is also a great chick-lit author, as entertaining as she is edifying.
Whether you are a reader, or writer, I would urge you to read (or re-read) Pride & Prejudice and Bridget Jones's Diary. Although they may prompt you to consider that there is nothing new under the sun, they will also hopefully inspire in you a sense that it's fine to be witty, spirited and all too human.
Holly Kinsella is the author of Uptown Girl published by Endeavour Press Ltd. The book will be on a free promotion this week.