Book Review: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, by Helen Fielding

Book description: Bridget Jones is back!

Great comic writers are as rare as hen’s teeth. And Helen is one of a very select band who have created a character of whom the very thought makes you smile. Bridget Jones’ Diary, charting the life of a 30-something singleton in London in the 1990s was a huge international bestseller, published in 40 countries and selling over 15 million copies worldwide. Its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, published soon after was also a major international bestseller. Both were made into films starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

Set in the present, the new novel will explore a different phase in Bridget’s life with an entirely new scenario. As Helen Fielding has said: “If people laugh as much reading it as I am while writing it then we’ll all be very happy.”

My review: I decided that this book deserved it’s own book review, in honour of how strongly I feel about Bridget Jones. I adore Bridget Jones, the character (from the books; I thought Renee Zellweger was too goofy). The original book is one of my top favourites. I, like Mindy Lahiri on the Mindy Project, bring it to the hospital because reading it makes me feel better. Coming to this new book, I know that a lot of people have castigated it. I get why, but I’m not going to be one of them. I actually really enjoyed the book, but it wasn’t entirely what I was expecting.

I knew going in what the premise was. I suppose it’s not a secret: Mark Darcy has died and Bridget Jones is a widow. She is once again dealing with the rollercoaster of dating, but this time as a fiftysomething, with two young children. Here are my thoughts on the book.

I have never felt more compassion and compatibility with another character, or probably a person, even if they are fictional, as I do with Bridget Jones. While I don’t think I’m quite as absurd as Bridget, I often find myself in situations where I’m like: how did this happen? Why am I so ridiculous? To me, she’s a bit like myself, and a bit like a very close friend. To the same effect, Mark Darcy is kind of like my boyfriend. Or husband. What surprised me about the book was how very sad I was to have lost Mark Darcy. I know I didn’t personally lose him, but I kind of felt like I did. Mark Darcy was the perfect man, and he was taken away from us. And he was perfect for Bridget too. She, in all her overwhelming imperfections, had loved the perfect man, and for a time her life was perfect. And now she is alone and no matter how good it gets, it can never be perfect again.

So there was such a prevailing tone of sadness through the book. Bridget would be doing okay, then she would be pulled “into the dark place.” I spent roughly 40% of the book crying. In part it was that I watched my mother go through her own widowhood and Fielding captured some of the feelings so well in those terms. But it was more than that. To me, Z is my Mark Darcy, and as I read the book I was imagining losing him and how I would (or wouldn’t) cope and you have to keep on going for the children no matter how hard it was … it really got to me. I was overly emotional reading this. I gave Z the biggest hug when he got home from work that day.

There was other stuff in there, the funny stuff, dating disasters, Bridget’s inability to do anything right but somehow getting it right in the end. I liked it, I did. But I spent a lot of my time reeling in grief, which may or may not have been Fielding’s desire here. I thought she handled the subject masterfully. So if you’re looking for my advice, if you love Bridget Jones, then don’t avoid this book. It is good. And if you don’t feel quite as strongly as I do about the characters, you probably won’t spend most of the time sobbing into your book.

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