Bridget Jones - Mad about The Boy

Bridget is back

Tarah Childes reviews the new Bridget Jones novel

TARAH CHILDES

A lot has changed in the 14 year-silence since Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary. Bridget has added the amount of Twitter followers gained (and more often lost) to her daily log; she now records her weight in American lbs instead of stone, and she’s kicked her smoking habit. She also happens to be a 51-year-old widow and mother of two.

In a plot twist that’s revolted many a loyal reader, Fielding offs Mark Darcy five years prior to the beginning of the novel, allowing Bridget to once again play the anxiety-ridden, floundering singleton, re-entering the dating scene of 2013. Except this time she’s also dealing with school runs, nit breakouts, bitchy school moms and a budding career as a screenplay writer.

Reviews have been mixed at best and scathing at worst.  The Daily Telegraph called this third instalment “a clunking disappointment” and accused it of veering between a “disconcerting” Fifty Shades of Grey manner and a “sub-Mills and Boon style”. I wouldn’t go as far as that — but I will say that the best moments are the ones where Fielding doesn’t try to imitate the Bridget of the ’90s. I enjoyed reading about Bridget the mum, on the bathroom floor, her “somewhat sexy” slip covered in her children’s diarrhoea, her “keep buggering on” mantra tested in the wake of her husband’s death.

What I didn’t enjoy was the “silly Bridget” Fielding harks back to all too often in an attempt to play it safe. It is not believable that a career driven women in her mid-fifties would spend an entire meeting about her own screenplay texting her new toy boy, in an effort to look tech savvy and cool; nor is it entirely believable that she is stuck in the continual loop of dallying with the wrong man, only to have the right one swoop in at the end and pick up the pieces she so struggles to hold together.

While many will enjoy another story about Bridget, the gaggle of friends and familiar faces ever-present, along with a smattering of new, even more god-like love interests (a Daniel Craig lookalike is mentioned so sure to look out for him in the inevitable movie to follow), it would’ve been even more enjoyable had Fielding let Bridget grow up into the well rounded woman she could be, instead of the trope-like character she’s very disappointingly become.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is published by Jonathan Cape and is available from Kalahari.com

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