Wednesday, 16 July 2014

From Mad about Bridget to Mad at Bridget- 'Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy' by Helen Fielding

Whilst  I was on holiday in Menorca last week, after just a few days I ran out of reading material having ploughed through the books I had bought with me (reviews on The Rosie Project and We Were Liars to come). In a Spar near the beach there was a small number of books in English so, after some hesitation I picked out Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. I hesitated because I had told myself not to read the book when it first came out- to me, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason wrapped things up nicely and maybe, just maybe, any more of the same Bridget jokes would wear thin. I gave in though as surely Bridget is the ultimate beach read. Spoilers to come, you have been warned.

Like to about 10 million other women (and some men I'd imagine) in the late nineties, to me, Bridget was the ultimate comic heroine. As Bridget's story was seemingly concluded in the Edge of Reason when she ran of into the sunset with Mark Darcy, Fielding chose to kill off Darcy in order to have something to write about in her third instalment. Fine: deaths do happen, Darcy can remain implausibly perfect in his death and we, as Bridget fans, want to know what will happen to her.

After a period of five years (presumably the amount of time Fielding felt was appropriate for Bridget to grieve Darcy) Bridget is back in the dating game and rarely looks back (bar perhaps the sentimental final page). She quickly charms a loveable and good looking guy, embarrassingly called 'Roxter' whom she woos via twitter with some painfully cringey tweets. Their 'modern' relationship, which revolves around tweets, texts and dating websites, is predictably, a fling. Bridget's new obsession with her iPhone verges on idiotic; she frantically reads and replies to her toyboy's texts under the table in a 'business meeting' as if she is 15 not 51. Annoying. Of course, one of the only other male characters who Bridget  demonstrates her hapless, semi incompetent self to falls in love with her so we have a rushed, happy ending.

Aside from her world of dating, Bridget has her children. There are some quite touching moments she shares with them but I'm afraid, on the whole, Fielding fails to accurately represent a realistic life of a single mother. Yes, she is middle class (having inherited a small fortune from Darcy) but, as she is unemployed, has a nanny and a cleaner, makes constant net-a-porter and asos orders, you will most probably find it hard to empathise with her.

There are of course funny moments and Fielding's style is, as ever, natural and engaging. However, I feel that she would have done better to move on from Bridget. I was mostly annoyed with Mad About the Boy. What are your thoughts on it? Sorry if this seems overly critical but as someone who has loved Bridget so much, Mad About the Boy had lots to live up to. If you watch the interview with Fielding which I will link below, it is her enthusiasm and love for Bridget that obviously warped her judgements in Mad About the Boy, making it quite easy to forgive her.