Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy – by Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones is crazy. I mean that in the best possible way – I love her! I’m also a fan of Helen Fielding in general. Cause Celeb was good, and I LOVED Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination (and not even just for that phenomenal title). But Bridget is my first Fielding love, as it should be.
The books, brilliant. The movies? Amazing. (Colin Firth. Enough said.) Bridget’s world is full of panic, disasters, incredible friendships, and trying family members as well as a whole lot of love, and it’s magical.
This third book was quite a tricky customer, though, for one very important SPOILER FILLED NO SERIOUSLY YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THIS reason:
I’m gonna assume that if you’ve come this far you’ve either read the book, or are a devil-may-care, nay, foolhardy type who scoffs at spoilers. Either way, you’ve been warned.
Mark Darcy is dead. You heard me. I didn’t want to believe it either. Actually, neither did Bridget. But she’s a widow, and her two children are without a father. It’s been four years, and Mrs Darcy is just starting to think she might one day be able to move on.
Mad About the Boy follows Bridget as she works out what life – living life, not just coping – will be like without Mark Darcy. The golden rule, as far as Bridget can tell, is to KBO – Keep Buggering On. So she does. She’s working, child rearing, and making forays into the mysterious worlds of Twitter and online dating. As you’d expect, knowing Bridget, it’s completely mental, scattered, manic and full of love. Her friends are a bedrock, with even Daniel Cleaver available for babysitting, and her mum: well, her mum definitely tries to be helpful. When she has the time.
I had mixed feelings about Mad About the Boy. On the one hand, it’s always lovely to play in Bridget’s world. I find it unique, managing to strike a delicate balance between endearing and infuriating, as events continually teeter on the brink of complete chaos! On the other, while I know it’s an interesting and in some ways bold choice to have Bridget as a newly-single-mother having to navigate this whole new world of dating in your fifties and in the digital age, I also think it’s a little bit lazy to kill off Mark.
First – readers spend two books waiting for these two to figure it out, and settle down, and be happy. And we don’t see that. We see the aftermath of what was, by all accounts, a very happy marriage. And while it’s lovely that they had this time together, we don’t get to experience any of that with them. After the emotional investment made during Bridget Jones’ Diary, and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, it’s fairly disappointing to not have any time with them together.
Secondly, I’d argue that there is a lot to explore in a happily-married Darcy household. Mark and Bridget’s daily struggles to raise two children while he works insane hours as a highly successful lawyer, Bridget’s general madcap-ness turned towards children, the fact that they’re two very different people working out how to be a family, the friends as ‘aunts’ and ‘uncles’, normal fights and resolutions – I would have loved that too.
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is a great look at how the widowed Bridget Darcy deals with a life post-Mark. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Bridget has done a lot of growing up, but remains, essentially, Bridget, and I love her for all of it.
But I can’t quite rid myself of the feeling of missed opportunity. I can’t help but feel like we missed out. Then again, Bridget feels like she’s been cheated of enough Mark Darcy, too, so perhaps that’s only fair.
Now that you’ve been thoroughly spoiled, dear reader, if you’ve read the book I’d be fascinated to hear your take on a Darcy-less Bridget Jones??
If you haven’t read it, what do you think of the idea of Mad About the Boy?