Mad About The Boy is the third ‘Bridget Jones’ book by Helen Fielding. I enjoyed the first two when they came out and was both intrigued and slightly worried about re-visiting the series some years later.
[No Spoilers – all that I discuss is revealed in the early chapters]
Bridget and Mark Darcy married and had two children before Mark died, leaving Bridget financially secure but a single mother. We read about Bridget’s struggle, both past and present, to get back on her feet and be a good mother. Aspects of her relationship with Mark, told in retrospect, are revealed throughout the book. Although the book is still in diary form, these longer back-story aspects, make the book seem more like a ‘normal’ novel told chronologically. Some old characters are still around such as Daniel Cleaver and some of her old nutty mates. Her friends decide that she should be trying to start dating again and meanwhile she discovers the ‘joys’ of Twitter. This being Bridget, there is usually an element of chaos lurking somewhere.
Criticism of the book maybe that it is too convenient to have Bridget as a wealthy, yummy mummy, meaning the author doesn’t have to deal with Bridget juggling work and children, or budgeting as many single mum’s would find they have to do. It does make her slightly un-relatable.
Whilst I did enjoy ‘catching up’ with Bridget I found the book much more sad and bittersweet than I expected. If you enjoyed the first books than I think this is worth a read, but it isn’t necessarily more of the same. Bridget has grown up, and so have we.
I must say, I didn't exactly have high hopes when I started reading the latest Bridget Jones novel, 'Mad about The Boy'. On reflection, I put this down to two factors:- 1) the less than favourable critical reviews; 2) the fact that Helen Fielding had killed off Mark Darcy (I'm pretty sure that I'm not giving too much away by saying that, seeing as it was plastered all over the news before the book came out).
I am pleased to say that actually, I really enjoyed this latest installment of Bridget's life. We meet Bridget again at the age of 51, having been widowed five years previously, and with two young children to look after. At this point, she is seeing a 'toy boy' - 30 year old Roxster, who is just lovely. Rewind a year, and you get to see how Bridget starts to get back in the saddle with regards to dating. Her burgeoning Twitter obsession brings her to meet Roxster, and she embarks on a cringeworthy first date. Her and Roxster have a great connection, and their relationship is funny and believable. However, Bridget is sure that the 21 year age gap will surely come and bite her in the bum soon enough - is she right? I don't want to give anything away so you will just have to give it a read yourself.
So, now having read the book, I can say this to the critics - sure, it's no high literary feat, but when you want an easy-to-read, relatable novel that will make you laugh out loud and cry at the end, this is the one for you. I liked the previous books and thought the films were great - this is really a pre-requisite for liking this sequel.
As for the bye-bye Mr Darcy factor - much better that she kill him off rather than they divorce, or one of them cheats on the other. This enables Fielding to explore the feelings that Bridget has to cope with as a newly single mother - having to cope with bringing up two young children on your own, and trying to negotiate the dating market in your fifties. Bridget's friends network are well written and all eccentric in their own way, and her children, Billy and Mabel, are a handful, but cute and lovable. Bridget's working life is... amusing, to say the least, and I think everyone can relate to her procrastination. Fielding has brought single Bridget back - the one that the readers loved the most. Worrying about her weight, her alcohol consumption, her multiple faux pas, falling for the wrong guy - now that's the Bridget we know and love. Really, what sort of novel would it have been with a happily married couple who have the perfect life?
The Bridget Jones' Diary franchise of both the books and the films, are personally my favourites. I think the character of Bridget is fabulous and someone we can all relate to and laugh at.
However, after reading Mad About the Boy, I was let down, disappointed and left wondering what Helen Fielding was thinking!!!!
For me, the story-line was drab, I did enjoy the book, it just wasn't on the same level as the other two, and the plot lines were predictable, I find myself guessing the ending a few chapters in, and to my surprise (not) I was correct.
I may not be casting the book into a good light, but there were some positives, I was addicted to reading the book, I did find it funny and somewhat charming, however I felt that this book was too obsessed with Bridget's appearance, yes she has always been concerned about her weight, but I found myself rolling her eyes in this novel unlike in the other two.
Perhaps I was just missing the element of men fighting over Bridget, who knows, but I was let down by this book. The witty, charming, funny characters we have grown to love all seem unlike themselves throughout the book, which took the edge off the novel.
I always found Bridget slightly irritating but in this book, she is just simply annoying!I was really looking forward to finding out what happened to Bridget but was very disappointed, it was predictable and I would go as far as to say boring.Wish I'd ordered it from the library rather than forking out £10!
I was eagerley awaiting this to come out as I am a true Bridget Jones fan, to the extent that my friends used to call me 'Bridge' back in my single days as my love life mirrored Bridget's. I loved the Bridget Jones Diary and The edge of reason, both the books and the films, but Mad about the boy made me feel sad for many reasons. Without giving you any spoilers I found the book a bit of a dissapointment really. I read an article of why Helen Fielding wrote it as she did, but still that didnt make me feel any better about how Briget's life had turned out. I think for hard-core Bridget Jones fans it is a must read, but only really to see what happens. I do think though many of these fans will feel sad as to how Bridget ended up. I think that I was just expecting to see the same happy, kind of clumsy and funny girl and although she is still there I found it a contrast to how she was before.
I'm a huge fan of the first two Bridget Jones books, so I asked for the new book for Christmas. I was surprised there was a new book after all this time, but I really wanted to give it a go.
At the end of the last book, we left Bridget and Mark walking off into the sunshine after a Pride and Prejudice-esque 'will they won't they end up together?' storyline. Mad About the Boy picks up 15 years after this, Bridget is bringing up two children on her own, fathered by Mark Darcy. I won't say the reason why they aren't together anymore, but I'm sure most people have heard the controversial decision Fielding made to the story.
Bridget is now 51 and raising Mabel (4) and Billy (6) in a large house in London. She grapples with childcare, Twitter, school and dating after the age of 50. In typical Bridget style we get break downs of things like weight and alcohol units, but she has added Twitter followers to this (although the cigarettes have gone now she is a mother). She dates a much younger man called 'Roxster', and the majority of the book follows her relationship with him.
I hate myself for it but I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to reading, the Bridget Jones books are a guilty pleasure which I've loved since I was a teenager. However, this book fell way short of the mark for me.
Bridget was so relatable in the first two books - a modern working woman, musing about feminism, trying to find love, living in London and having fabulous friends who made everything better. In her 30s the scattiness was funny and endearing, and I just wanted to be her friend and share a bottle of wine and a box of milk tray. Things have changed.
What was endearing in a 30 year old singleton was a bit grating in a 51 year old woman. There was no character development, and this is a women who is single handedly responsible for two children. My mum is 51 and I couldn't imagine her behaving anything like Bridget due to her own life experience. The other thing is Bridget isn't relatable anymore. She doesn't work, she has a house and a nanny. Her friends are not as predominant in this book which I'm sure can happen when kids come along, but her family are also not in this book much at all. As well as Mark being absent, her dad and Shazza are also not in the book, and they were two of my favourite characters.
This book did have its merits. It had some genuinely funny moments and some genuinely heartbreaking moments which bought a bit of a tear to my eye. Bridget has suffered loss as we all do when going through life, and I feel this was presented sensitively and beautifully. However, as well as the good stuff this was a book that relied heavily on fart jokes. I like a good fart joke as much as the next person (not a snob when it comes to that) but it was just too much and it wasn't really funny. There were also whole conversations in twitter speak and texts which were irritating to read.
I didn't mind this book. It was an interesting read for a couple of days. However it didn't have the magic of Bridget. I predicted what would happen in the end fairly early on, but when it did happen it was very abrupt. I felt like Fielding had reached her word limit and had to wrap it up quickly. I really wanted to like this book, however Bridget has not developed and this book had so few of the characters we've come to know and love. I read so many bad reviews and thought it was a case of people not being open to new things but I'm genuinely quite disappointed by this book.
Also - the 'diary' was more dire than usual, as it was non chronological and would be prefaced with 'here are my diaries from last year'. Must try harder!
It's not that often that I get rally excited about a book release, but I was eagerly awaiting this one. I had loved the first Bridget Jones book (and film) and the second ones were ok. When I heard there was to be a new book being released, I was keen to have an update on Bridget's life. I had accidentally read a spoiler online that revealed something I didn't really want to know about the book and for a while I wasn't sure I wanted to read the book knowing this, but curiosity soon got the better of me.
I am sure that the character of Bridget Jones needs no introduction to most people. A neurotic 30-something (when the first books were released) who worried about dying alone and being found weeks later half eaten by Alsatians, worried about her weight and vowed to give up her vices of smoking and drinking. However, her Mr Right (or Mr Darcy in her case) did appear and at the end of the second book, it seemed that Bridget did finally get her happy ending.
The spoiler and the news that made me question whether or not I wanted to read the book was that in this book, Bridget is a widow. Mark Darcy had been killed in a suitably heroic way and left behind Bridget and their two children Billy and Mabel.This was until her friends decided that she had been mourning Mark for long enough and that she needed a new man. Somehow, through the world of Twitter, she meets a toyboy named Roxster and despite the 20 year age gap they hit it off.
Bridget is financially stable due to Mark's legacy, but she has sold his large house in Holland Park and moved to Chalk Farm. She doesn't work, but in the book she has written a screenplay - a modern version of Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen (although being Bridget she gets both the name of the play and the author wrong). Her screenplay is accepted by an up and coming film company, but they want to make a lot of changes to the script and Bridget is too distracted by her young lover to notice.
Bridget's friends are all still in her life and we get an update on the lives of Jude, Shazzer and Tom, as well as some new friends. Daniel also appears in the book, although only fleetingly, and while he is the same old Daniel in some ways, he does seem to have matured in other ways. I was surprised, as when I heard Daniel was back in the book, I was expecting more of the same as the first two books, but I was very surprised when I found out what his role was in this book.
Understandably, given the subject matter of the book, there is a sadness that wasn't present in the previous books. I really hadn't expected the sadness that permeates the first few chapters of this book, and it was written in a way that the sadness seemed ever present in Bridget's life. However, the second part of the book seems to be back to more familiar territory. I loved the ending of the book. Bridget's mental run down of Christmases past was very touching and tied the story together really well. I was almost in tears at the end of that part, it was sad and very moving and even though things were looking up for Bridget at that time, it shows that no matter how happy you may feel, there is always a hint of sadness just under the surface. A slight niggle for me was that the Christmas scenes and the epilogue were set in the future, whereas the rest of the book was set in 2013. Maybe Helen Fielding was hoping that people wouldn't be reading it until Christmas?
There are still some of those laugh out loud moments, and the Bridget that we knew from the first novels is still there, just under the surface (although she now weighs herself in lbs rather than Stones). She is still a bit scatterbrained, and often late, and her hair is still mad in the mornings. There are some parts of the book that we can all relate to, and I found the part about the BMW driver particularly satisfying. I also loved some of the names that Mabel has for her toys.
Yes, there were some annoying parts in the book, but there has always been something slightly annoying and exasperating about Bridget through all the novels. In this book, I found the recurring theme of her worries about Twitter followers (and lack thereof) and her random tweets were slightly annoying. I also found the fart jokes a bit off putting. Yes, they were funny the first few times, but towards the end, it just got boring and seemed to make Bridget seem very immature, which didn't fit in with the Bridget in the rest of the book.
It was always going to be hard for Helen Fielding to resurrect Bridget Jones, particularly after such a long absence and also having read a lot of very critical reviews online, I'm guessing that some people expected more of the same as the first two novels. I think this is because, while Bridget is the same in some ways, she has also changed a lot. She has grown up and matured and while she still worries about her weight and her vices, she also has new worries such as being older than the other mummies at the school gates, wrinkles and grey hair. I also feel it was a mistake to kill off Mark Darcy, as it would have been nice to have had a bit of knowledge as to how they adjusted to married life and domesticity. We also learn nothing about the births of the children, and it would have been nice to know some details, such as who named them and how Mark was as a father.
I am undecided about whether or not I liked this book. While it was nice to have an update on the life of Bridget, this book wasn't what I was expecting it to be. There was the permeating sadness in the first part of the book that make it tough going in places, but this was largely forgotten in the second part of the book when Bridget is involved with her toyboy. Helen Fielding has done a good job in some places of reminding the reader in places of the old Bridget, but in others I felt she tried too hard. This book is worth a read, but I don't think I'd be in a hurry to read the book again. In saying that though, I do think this is better than the second Bridget Jones book. At around £7 for the Kindle version, and slightly more for the hardback on amazon, I feel it's not worth the money.
(review first appeared on Ciao in October)
This is a review of the 2013 book: Bridget Jones Mad about the Boy. I received it in hardback as a Christmas present which was a bit of a bind as I also received a Kindle so it would have been nice to read my new book on the new device but never mind, a hardback to share, keep and re read is not a bad thing!
A bit about
In Mad About the Boy, Bridget is 51 and feels old. She has two young kids Mabel and Billy and Mark Darcy is their dad. In the first few pages, you wonder why she is a single mum but this is explained in the story line. In short, Bridget is lonely and looking for a new man whilst juggling the responsibilities of her children and a part time screen writing job.
Obviously it would totally ruin it if I say any more about the story line as I am sure there will be plenty of review readers out there wanting to read the book for themselves. But I can comment on the themes and whether the book is in keeping with previous Bridget Jones Diaries.
Obviously the book is still written in a diary style, with many entries beginning with the number of calories eaten, her weight in pounds and also things like how many bags of cheese she's eaten, or texts sent or received. There is a modern twist now though, around twenty years on, because Bridget's internet dating and also trying to work out the inner workings of Twitter so Twitter followers are counted and lost daily!
This is a new time for Bridget and she is embracing the new ways of dating through internet and even texting, which she never did before with Mark and Daniel.
You'll be pleased to hear there's still lots of reference to Mark and Daniel. The old crowd of friends are still there, Jude, Tom et al. And a new friend Talitha made in her TV days. Talitha is older than her but a firm believer in the toy boy. In addition, early on is leatherjacketman whose real name we never find out but they have a close brush before scaring each other with the thought of an actual relationship. Following leatherjacketman is Roxter, a Twitter fan who makes a connection with Bridget. Lurking in the background, always is Billy's fit PE school teacher who Bridget seems to have a love hate relationship with.
Bridget's weight is still an issue and she constantly battles with her food issues, and wine issues. She appears to have cracked the cigarette cravings though.
My thoughts part ii
I did think a lot of the pages were spaced out a lot with lists and texts and emails almost to get some of the word count out so I felt a bit cheated by that. Also, nothing really seemed to actually happen in the book, other than a series of mishaps and comedy moments.
Hardbacks are still retailing at around £10 but I was surprised to see it only cost £1.99 for the Kindle when I checked so that's a bargain!
I liked reading this, it was good to catch up with Bridget again but I didn't love it. If they make the film I will go and see it, I have to really but to be honest it didn't meet my expectations at all in book form. Bridget seems to have lost all her pzazz and a lot of the comedy too as she has aged. I was trying to hear her 'voice' as I read it and I just wasn't getting it. All in all I felt a bit let down by the book and really hoped something more exciting would happen in it.