Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding – review

There's the familiar agonising and a new sentimentality as 51-year-old Bridget looks to get back in the dating game

Bridget Jones
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones in The Edge of Reason. Photograph: Allstar/Cinetext

It's always a jolt to remember that the first two Bridget Jones books, published way back in the 90s, predated texting, tweeting, Facebook and internet dating: the constant stream of personal updates pinging between our devices in 2013. Her diary-style abbreviations, number-crunching obsessiveness over trivia and jokey combination of self-exposure and self-deprecation have had such an influence on the tone of social media that we all sound like Bridget now.

So it's no surprise that Helen Fielding was tempted to let Bridget loose on what looks like her natural terrain. Think what opportunities modern technology offers for embarrassment: the erroneously forwarded email, the ill-advised drunken text, the disastrous internet date. What's surprising, and cheering, is that rather than freeze-framing her as the eternal thirtysomething, Fielding has allowed Bridget to age in real time, making her 51 (and in need of glasses to operate her smartphone).

More shockingly, instead of the dissatisfied divorcee one might have expected, Bridget is now a tragic widow. Mark Darcy has died a typically noble death, leaving her with two small children, Billy and Mabel. These days, as well as counting calories and alcohol units, she's also totting up nits on the comb and bags of grated cheese scoffed from the fridge while making the kids' supper.

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