The newest installment of the beloved Bridget Jones series is released today, and I was lucky enough to be able to read it earlier this week. I read the first Jones novel when I was eighteen, and have dipped into it and its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, several times since. I was, of course, incredibly excited about the third addition to the series, and when it plonked through my letterbox along with a free Bridget Jones branded bar of chocolate, I began it immediately.
Bridget Jones feels timeless, in a way. She and her problems – an ever-present struggle with her fluctuating weight, her battle to give up smoking, counting the units of alcohol which she consumes each day, and her yearning to find her ‘Mr. Perfect’ – speak for a wealth of women.
Bridget Jones has aged considerably in this new book, and Fielding has chosen to put her around the fifty-year-old mark – perhaps an autobiographical touch. She is a single mother to two rather amusing young children, Billy and Mabel, following the demise of the aforementioned Mark Darcy, and is living in the north of London. In Mad About the Boy, Bridget ‘stumbles through the challenges of single-motherhood, tweeting, texting and rediscovering her sexality in what some people rudely and outdatedly call “middle-aged”‘.
Determined to get on with her life and move on from the four years of grieving following her husband’s death, she is in a relationship with a twenty nine-year-old named Roxby McDuff – ‘Roxster’ – whom she meets through Twitter. She is trying to make it as a screenwriter, and is struggling to write a reinterpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler (which she believes is called “Hedda Gabbler” and is by Russian author Anton Chekhov). Characters from the original novel and its sequel are still present in Mad About the Boy, most notably her friends Jude and Tom, who is ‘still dark, buff, handsome and fabulously gay’. The diary format which Fielding has continued to use works well, as do the additions of to-do lists and musings about weight and calories at the start of each entry.
Sadly, Mad About the Boy has been shunned by many critics, who do not feel that it is as humorous as it should be, and who do not agree with the fact that Bridget’s partner, Mark Darcy, has been “killed off”. Rather than a disappointing addition – or ending – to the Bridget Jones series, it felt to me as though Mad About the Boy was a natural progression of Bridget’s story. Each element of her new life is believable, and the characters are all well developed. The only downside for me was that the ending is both a little too simpering and rushed. Aside from that, Mad About the Boy is a great and absorbing read, and one which I am sure will satisfy more fans than critics.