Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

17345218I would like to thank Hodder and Stoughton Publishers for this copy of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy.

Here is my honest review. In a nutshell, if you liked the first two Bridget Jones novels, you should enjoy this one. It offers some surprises, when it picks up Bridget Jones’ life 13 years later than we last saw her. But it also offers much of the same formula that has worked for author Helen Fielding twice before, following Bridget as she bumbles through her messy, funny life, and tells us about it in her own irrepressible voice. Here is what I liked about the novel.

1. I think that Fielding has made a smart choice as an author in having written about Bridget in real time. This means that readers have grown up at the same rate as Bridget. Thus, where 15 years ago, we, and Bridget, were focusing on single life and the start of a career, now Bridget has been married, had two children, and is dealing with the fallout of losing her beloved Mark Darcy. (More on that later.)

2. Fielding succeeds yet again at writing a very funny story. I was laughing out loud on nearly every page of the novel.

3. The new characters that we encounter in this installment of Bridget’s life are loveable and engaging.  Bridget’s daughter Mabel is funny, sweet, and wise, and the two possible love interests in her life, Roxster and Mr. Wallaker, are both attractive in personality and appearance.

4. (And this could be either a good or bad thing, depending on your expectations), Fielding follows a similar story arc in Mad About the Boy as in her first Bridget Jones novel.  There are a couple of men who Bridget could possibly end up with, there is some singing to 80’s pop, there are some very funny Christmas parties, and there is a happy ending.  However, if you were looking for Bridget Jones to mature and change deeply in the years since we’ve last seen her, you may be disappointed.

And this brings me to the ways in which some readers may find Mad About the Boy a bit of a letdown.

1. The elephant in the room: Mark Darcy is dead. DEAD! When I first heard this (widely publicized and reacted to by fans) I was very, very upset. Darcy, and Colin Firth as his film embodiment, have become a part of our pop culture. So Fielding’s choice to kill this beloved character off was shocking and rather controversial.

On the other hand, given this premise, I felt that Fielding handled Darcy’s death as well as she possibly could. Bridget remembers him frequently and with great love, and through her memories, we are exposed to tender glimpses of their life together as they raised their two children.  It’s a well known fact that romances in stories often lose their tension once the lovers finally get together.  By killing Darcy off while he and Bridget were happy and deeply in love, Fielding has avoided this dilemma.

2. All fans of Bridget Jones will know of her humorous and relatable struggles with her weight. In Mad About the Boy, Fielding revisits the issue, but the whole thing seems rather old hat and uninspired. For one thing, it’s a little depressing to find that at 51, Bridget is still obsessing over her weight in the same way she was 15 years before. What seemed funny when she was young and single now seems rather sad.

On top of that, Fielding has Bridget lose 40 lbs more or less effortlessly over the course of a few months. This scenario, rather than being encouraging, minimizes the difficulties of dieting, and serves to make Bridget less relatable to readers.

And this weight-loss issue represents a larger problem in this third Bridget Jones novel. As a reader, I found that Bridget’s story, which delighted me when I read it for the first time 15 years ago, now felt superficial and irrelevant. Despite the happy ending in the novel, it left me with a sense of sadness. I think perhaps what has happened is that, in the last 15 years, I, and many of Bridget’s original fans, have grown up.  Unfortunately, despite her fictional troubles, Bridget has not. Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, is a light, rather formulaic romp. It delivers quite a few laughs, but not a lot of insight. Read it just for fun, and you will not be disappointed.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: 11.12.13 – What is Making Me Happy | WalkieTalkieBookClub
  2. Trackback: REVIEW: Mad About the Boy, (Bridget Jones 3) by, Helen Fielding | Curious Kindle Reader

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