Days lost to new Bridget Jones novel: 3; boyfriends neglected over the past 3 days that will need a special apology now that it’s over: 1; times laughed/sniggered out loud: 100s; times thought to self “oh, Bridget”: almost as many; times managed to step away from book and attend to real life: 5.
Bridget Jones is back and, once again, looking for love in Helen Fielding’s latest release Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. The hero of the former Bridget Jones novels, the much beloved Mr. Darcy, has died. (I’ll give you a moment to digest that – I know I certainly needed one.) So, with the help of Chloe, the nanny, the now 51-year old Bridget is raising their two young children, Billy and Mabel, while also trying to establish a screen-writing career and get back into the dating game.
In Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Bridget finds herself playing the role of “yummy mummy” when she hooks the 29-year-old, and rather delicious, Roxster. Of course, the world has changed a lot since the last time Bridget was dating, some 15 years ago. Instead of waiting for the phone to ring, she is waiting for texts, and tweets; instead of heading out to the pub to meet someone, she is reading their profiles on internet-dating sites. Thankfully, Bridget has not changed, and there is a warm familiarity to her anxieties, tendency to speak before thinking, and overall good intentions.
Fielding has successfully transitioned Bridget from the dating thirty-something we fondly remember her as, to the widowed fifty-something year old she now is. She is still obsessed with making lists – about her weight, her calorie and alcohol intake – but Bridget now also counts twitter followers and texts. Many of the supporting characters we are already familiar with, like Daniel Cleaver, Jude, and Tom, are back in Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, providing instant recognition and a feeling of coming home.
Now, it should be said that I have followed Bridget Jones since she first appeared in print, and I couldn’t wait to get Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. While this was an incredibly fun read, providing a delightfully humorous, razor-sharp look at life – and dating – after “a certain age,” unfortunately, it did lack the freshness of its predecessors. There were moments when I felt the book lagged, and I did wish that a little more emphasis had been placed on the building tension between Bridget and a certain character (who shall remain nameless). However, I still could not put this book down.
Where I think Fielding has excelled is in the way she has captured the chemistry between Roxster and Bridget. She clearly depicts a very real connection between the two, and highlights the difficulties that their age difference causes with the right combination of sensitivity and humour. The loss Bridget feels over losing Mark Darcy is also beautifully depicted, and genuinely moving, and her children, and Bridget’s relationship with them, add another rich layer to her life, and the story.
With its all-too-familiar shorthand we know from the previous books in the series, I think Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy will appeal to its fans. Where it lacks in plot, it makes up for in wit, observation, and heart, and it is clear that Helen Fielding is still British Chick Lit at its best.
REVIEWER: Emma Codd
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, by Helen Fielding, is published by Random House. RRP is $36.99