Helena Fielding’s third and final Bridget Jones book shows a different side of the quintessential comic heroine 15 years on from the last novel
BRIDGET JONES is arguably the first true modern comic heroine. With the first novel, Bridget Jones’s Diary being realised back in 1996, author Helena Fielding is one of a select brand who has created a character of whom the very thought of makes you smile.
The previous books were giant international bestsellers, selling over 15m copies across 40 countries and were turned into two hit films. With Bridget capturing the hearts of our female nation, the new novel, Mad About the Boy has been one of the most anticipated books of the year.
In the new book, Fielding has revived Bridget nearly two decades on to explore a different phase in the heroine’s life. In Mad About the Boy, Bridget, now 51 is still struggling with her unhealthy obsessions with her weight, alcohol units and romantic calamities. To this list of issues she now has the social media world playing a part in her everyday lifestyle.
Fielding has written in the same girlish style that she perfected in the first novel, using Bridget’s famous made up phrases such as, ‘singletons, smug marrieds and emotional f***wits’, making her the same young Bridget underneath the 51 year old age label. However, a lot has changed since we bided farewell to Bridget at the end of ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason’ who we left after she found love and happiness with dreamy human rights lawyer, Mark Darcy. The latest novel is set four years on from when Mark tragically died in a land-mine accident in Sudan, leaving poor Bridget a widow with two children. The novel shows Bridget emerging from the raw shock and grief of losing Mark to engage on the dating scene again- and this dating scene couldn’t be more different.
Despite Mark’s death being such a huge shock to fans, there may be some sense behind Fielding’s logic as she has somehow pulled off the neat trick of holding Bridget to her initial premise of a single woman searching for romance while allowing her to grow into someone funnier and more interesting than before. Who knew being middle aged could be so eventful?
In the world of the 90’s single Bridget there was no twitter, Facebook or online dating and when you hit past your peak you were doomed to ‘ die fat and alone…and be found three weeks later, half-eaten by wild dogs.’ In this novel Fielding is very playful with the fact that Bridget is a bit of a late starter with technology who constantly forgets passwords and tends to push buttons that cause multiple screens to go blank. When it comes to Bridget’s renowned slapstick comedy, there are some brilliant scenarios based on her embarrassingly bad misunderstandings – usually revolved around running into her son’s ruggedly attractive teacher.
The older, but not necessarily wiser Bridget’s problems in the book have hilarious parts that different ages of women can relate to. From worrying about the number of head lice she finds in her children’s hair to the percentage of the day she checks her phone for messages off her toy boy. (“Texts from Roxster 0,” she writes of one boyfriend. “Number of times checked for texts from Roxster 4,567.”)
As if to compensate for Bridget’s massive blow, the male focal point of this novel is a young toy boy teacher, Mr. Wallaker who Bridget wins over by not striving to be the ideal woman, but being her gawky imperfect self.
The heroine may be criticized for being unrealistic in terms of landing these gorgeous successful men, but the novel is fiction and something to make all the women with insecurities realise that it’s OK to be imperfect as there is a man out there who’ll love you, as Mark Darcy said it, ‘ just the way you are’.
You would have a heart of ice if you didn’t shed a tear at the end of this novel as it captures the real highs and lows of Bridget’s life. Miss Jones really is a British legacy and Fielding’s fabulous tiro of diaries
have made us realise that long lasting love isn’t guaranteed, your life doesn’t become dull in your 50’s and wearing giant panties that reduce your body fat percentage are completely acceptable.
Rather than a piece of perfected literature, Mad About the Boy is more of an inviting comfort blanket for all of the readers who were captured by Bridget before and are intrigued to find out what she has become.