"B.B.J." -- Before Bridget Jones
Helen Fielding's highly acclaimed first novel brings all the insight and charm of the Bridget Jones novels to a brilliantly witty, thought-provoking take on today's woman -- and today's world.
Cause Celeb -- the critically acclaimed debut novel from a writer with a boundless grasp of the existential and the uproarious -- has just landed in America. Deftly skewering the world of celebrity fundraising, Fielding has created an alternately comic and moving satire that straddles the glitter of media London and the horrors of an African refugee crisis.
"A terrific, witty story." -USA Today -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 03, 2003
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Excerpt from Bridget Jones's Diary: Cause Celeb by Helen Fielding
It used to seem extraordinary to me that someone like Henry could actually exist, extraordinary that a person could be transported into an environment so alien to his own, and remain so utterly unaffected by his surroundings. It was as if he had been coated with a very strong sealant, the sort of thing they use to paint on oceangoing yachts.
Henry was spreading thick cut luxury marmalade from a Fortnum and Mason's jar on a piece of Nambulan unleavened bread.
"Got up this morning, didn't Boris Believe it -- family of eight outside my hut wanting to move their tent nearer the river. I said to the chap, 'I thought this was a bloody refugee camp, not a holiday camp, but you go ahead, mate, by all means. Never mind the old malnutrition -- you go for the view.' "
Breakfast was taken in Safila, just after dawn. It was a quiet time, the hour before the heat became intolerable, with the silence broken only by the rooster and Henry, who was incapable of shutting up except when he was asleep. I was particularly annoyed by Henry that morning, because I suspected he had started an affair with one of our more emotionally fragile nurses, Sian. She was sitting next to him now, giving him a look you could have spread on a piece of toast. Sian was a sweet-natured girl who had joined us two months ago, after returning early from night shift to find her husband of eighteen months in bed with a Turkish minicab driver. Her therapy was being continued via correspondence.
Betty was talking about food as usual. "Do you know, what I could really eat now is a pudding. Mind you, I say that. Bread-and-butter pudding. Oooh, lovely, with raisins and a bit of nutmeg. I wonder if Kamal could do us a bread-and-butter pudding if we made that biscuit tin into an oven?"
It was five-thirty in the morning. I got up from the table, walked outside and sighed. How the tiny irritations of life filled the mind out here, keeping the big horrors at bay. I dipped a cup into the water pot, and walked to the edge of the hill to brush my teeth.
Our compound was behind me, with its round mud huts, showers, latrines and the cabana where we took our meals. Before me was the sandy basin which housed Safila camp, a great scar in the desert. The light was very soft at that time, the sun pale, just clearing the horizon. Clustered over a pattern of hummocks and paths, leading down to the point where the two blue rivers met, were the huts which housed the refugees. Five years ago, during the great mid-eighties famine, there were sixty thousand of them, and a hundred a day were dying. Now twenty thousand remained. The rest had gone back over the border to Kefti, to the mountains and the war.