After a fourteen-year silence, Helen Fielding brought the ultimate romcom heroine back into our lives last October with the hotly anticipated, latest instalment of the Bridget Jones trilogy: Mad About The Boy. With Bridget the poster girl for a generation of women in the 90s and 00s, ‘singletons’ and ‘smug marrieds’ the world over took Jones and all her insecurities into their hearts.
In Mad AboutThe Boy, Bridget is still very much the same Bridget we fell in love with, but this time with the added pressures of motherhood, being a widow, social media and the unwritten rule of: Do Not Text When Drunk (we’ve all been there). Thus, Bridget appears older, somewhat sadder, but definitely none the wiser and, contrary to popular belief, still as brilliant as ever.
WARNING! PLOT SPOLIER! With Mad About The Boy featuring the demise of Mark Darcy, who was killed by a landmine helping aid workers in Sudan ( impossibly perfect to the end…), I was sceptical. Could there really be a Bridget Jones without a Mark Darcy? Is there even a point to the book?
I’ll also hold my hands up and say that I actually saw both Bridget Jones films before reading the first two books in the series. This goes against everything I believe in as I’m a firm advocate that books are always better than the films. Always. Nevertheless, having read the books at a later date, and probably at a more appropriate age, Fielding’s writing style is what makes the books. She creates laugh-out-loud moments and her latest novel is no different.
At 51, Bridget is coming to terms with being widowed, having two children in toe, still ‘just a little bit fat’ as well as finding herself back on the quest for love, and taking stumbling and tentative steps into the dating world once more. Back in the day, Bridget only had to contend with unanswered emails and unreturned phone calls. In today’s world, there’s a whole host of means to suffer rejection by: texting, Twitter, Facebook, online dating, the list is endless. I’m pretty sure if Tinder had been as popular when Fielding sat down to write Mad About The Boy, Bridget would probably have also found herself distracted from everyday life by constantly swiping left or swiping right.
As Bridget grapples with modern-day life and obsessing over her number of Twitter followers, she navigates the dating scene with such innate hilariousness that makes you forget about your own love-life disasters. Becoming a cougar, drunk texting, intoxicated tweeting and writing her own dating rules, all whilst nit combing her children and running to the fridge for cheese and wine, is just an average day in the utterly chaotic life of Bridget Jones.
Conversely, there are times when grief and single parenting allow us to sympathise and empathise with Bridget – some may even shed a tear for her – but with the age-old British determination and grit, Jones resorts to her mantra of ‘Keep Buggering On’ – a philosophy that further installs her into the hearts of the readers.
Of course, some things never change. Bridget is still preoccupied with her weight loss and weight gain, her alcohol consumption and constantly reminding herself that smoking is v.bad. Together with her weakness for eating bags of cheese, it highlights that Bridget is still hapless and child-like in some of her behaviours. There’s a complete contrast between her mothering role and her naïve dating habits and, in a way, what may have been endearing in her 20-30 something years, is slightly exasperating in her fifties.
Even so, Bridget is supposed to be ridiculous, outlandish and make us question ‘did she actually just do that?’ She’s not perfect; she’s only human – just like the rest of us. Yet, perhaps best of all, there is another happy ending for our Bridget – but I won’t spoil the outcome for you. Maybe life does begin after 50… ?
Mad About The Boy is by no means a literary masterpiece and, yes, it is slightly predictable. However, Fielding knows what she’s doing and she knows what her audience wants. Ultimately, Mad About The Boy is chick lit, but it shows that life is full of lessons that we must endure and it helps if we can laugh along the way. The comical, clumsy and occasionally cringe-worthy moments make her all the more relatable and, deep down, I think we all have a little bit of Bridget within us.
Bridget Jones, it’s been good to catch up!
Article by Rebekah Holroyd