Bridget Jones Grows Up: 'Mommy Lit' Takes a Wry, Irreverent Look at Motherhood
Tyre, Peg, Newsweek
Byline: Peg Tyre
When novelist Jane Green began writing her latest book, she realized it was time for something new. After turning out three successful girl-dates-boy stories in four years--"Straight Talking," "Jemima J" and "Mr. Maybe"--Green's life had changed. No longer a single career girl in the Big City, Green had moved to the suburbs with her husband and two children. "I realized there were only so many books I could write about the same topic," says Green. So this time her fictional alter egos are having children. The title of her new book? "Babyville."
Chick lit is growing up. In 1998 a wise-cracking, boy-crazy British career girl named Bridget Jones took publishing by storm and spawned dozens of imitators. Now a new breed of fictional heroine is bringing Bridget's wry humor and brutal candor not to dating but to motherhood; publishers call the new genre "mommy lit." So far this summer, "Babyville," Danielle Crittenden's "Amanda Bright@Home" and Adele Parks's "Larger Than Life" have hit bookstores with the same candy-colored covers as their chick-lit cousins. But unlike their childless sisters, these heroines would pass up a Prada bag for a good night's sleep and the patience to sing yet another round of "Itsy Bitsy Spider." Women have always written about families, of course, but this new crop of books takes an unflinching look at the ambivalence that goes along with motherhood while still appealing to a mass audience. "Readers today know being a mom is complicated," says Deborah Birkett, who runs the three-year-old Web site Chicklit.com. "They want to read something about it that isn't pulp romance but also isn't 'The Bell Jar'."
For publishers, the evolution from dating tales to domestic travails is only natural. After the success of Helen Fielding's book, Simon & Schuster, Kensington, Avon and Harlequin launched chick-lit imprints of their own. Last year fictional heroine Kate Reddy became a touchstone for weary working moms struggling to have it all. …