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12th February 2024

The frazzled Millennial women of literature

The Bridget Jones aesthetic has been preoccupying TikTok recently so we reveal literature’s favourite frazzled millennial women.
The frazzled Millennial women of literature
Credit: Martin de Arriba @Pexels

There has been a recent trend on TikTok about the Frazzled English Women aesthetic inspired by characters such as Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’ Diary) and Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet in The Holiday). This aesthetic generally involves women wearing scarves, claw clips, and big coats, with a disastrous love life. They are beloved, despite their awkward, self-deprecating humour and prove to be strong, self-sufficient women by the end of the films.

Although the root of this aesthetic comes from heart-warming English films, similar characters have appeared in recent popular books. These characters can be categorised as frazzled millennial women who embody a similar aesthetic to the frazzled English women trend. They are usually women in their mid-20s to early 30s who, after a dramatic break-up with a long-term partner, rediscover themselves. These characters lend themselves to a vulnerable but equally comical tone that render these books a refreshing read.

Dolly Alderton is one of the leading voices of millennial women as a successful columnist for The Sunday Times, where she answers questions on love, life, and friendship. Her witty, self-aware voice is what made her memoir, Everything I Know about Love, a glowing success. It is a guide for anyone who is faced with the unknown abyss of their twenties, whilst juggling the perils of online dating, friendship breakups, and more.

In Alderton’s first fiction novel Ghosts (2020), Alderton embodies her usual witty tone and covers many themes that appear in Everything I Know about Love. Ghosts follows Nina, a food writer living in London, as she wrestles with online dating and the difficulty of maintaining friendships.

Alderton is outspoken about her experience of the pressures imposed on single women in their thirties to be aware of their fertility. In Ghosts, Nina is surrounded by friends having children and getting married – including her long-term ex-boyfriend. She becomes increasingly aware of her ‘body clock’, made worse by her position as the last single friend in her friend group.

However, Alderton represents the pleasures and freedoms of being childless in your thirties. Nina is passionate about her job, she invests in her friendships, and she owns her own flat.

In Candice Carty-Williams’ debut novel, Queenie (2020), she follows Queenie as she deals with her recent break up with her long-term boyfriend. Queenie has been described as the ‘black Bridget Jones’ which Carty-Williams admitted was an inspiration when writing the novel. However, she revealed in Stylist magazine that, unlike Bridget Jones, the book is “naturally political” because of Queenie’s experiences as a black woman.

The novel is blunt and a constant surprise, especially in the opening passage where Queenie describes having her UID removed. She embarks on a journey of bad decisions which result in many uncomfortable sexual experiences. Carty-Williams also touches on wider political themes such as casual racism and mental health struggles.

The novel ultimately presents the support system that Queenie has from her stern but doting grandparents and her loving group of friends, who all guide her through her breakup. Like Bridget Jones, Queenie goes on a journey of discovery dictated by Carty-Williams’ dazzling writing.

A more recent novel that has joined the frazzled millennial woman trend is Monica Heisley’s debut novel Really Good, Actually (2023). Heisley is a Canadian writer, most known as a screenwriter for the popular show Schitt’s Creek.

Set in Toronto, the novel follows Maggie who is twenty-eight and recently divorced as she rediscovers life as a single woman for the first time in her adult life. The novel is told through Maggie’s frantic inner monologue with sections that reveal her Tinder messages, Google searches, and a list of reasons why she cried recently.

As Maggie continually represses her grief about her divorce, trying to convince everyone she is fine, she obsesses over skincare, cycle classes, and Tinder. Really Good, Actually is a novel that is impossible to stop reading due to Heisley’s charming writing that pulls you in instantly.

All three novels allow their readers to connect with the protagonists by showing their vulnerabilities, anxieties, and downfalls. They are all flawed characters but are also equally charming, making them impossible to dislike.

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