There are some significant ways in which this book feels like an artifact. For one, it and the movie are obviously iconic. The movie came out when I was in college, and I didn’t know anything about the book at the time, so I was a little confused about the hype of the movie, not realizing the book and its sequel were so beloved. It’s also an artifact of both the 1990s book culture centered in London, the same culture that gets lampooned a little in Muriel Spark’s A Far Cry from Kensington (though of an earlier generation) and later with both JK Rowling’s The Silkworm and Edward St Aubyn’s Lost for Words. It’s also an artifact of 1990s diet and weight obsession. Obviously on that last point, we’re still just as obsessed (many of us) as we were in the 1990s, but we just don’t talk about it aloud as much.
The book is posed as a diary, obviously, and has the trappings of the diary like a listing of the dates, the meticulous cataloging of calories, cigarettes, drinks, and later things like smoothies and other diety foods she folds into her life. As an American I of course always have to run the math on the weigh being in stones. But otherwise the novel is mostly what you remember: a well-down, hilarious comedy set in that very very (v v) specific context.
A really funny part of the whole thing is that it namedrops Martin Amis a half dozen times as THE author of the UK at the time, but the movie has both Salman Rushdie, whose career was (and is) a little more vibrant that Amis’s at that time, and Julian Barnes (still very vibrant). But the real funny moment is that both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are references directly here — Firth in comparison to Mark Darcy.