on 29 January 2014
Having read the original two Bridget Jones novels and seen the films and found both highly entertaining, I was looking forward to this update. Unfortunately I have been highly disappointed. This is drivel of the highest order, consisting of mainly inane tweets and text messages. Bridget Jones is in her fifties with two very small children (although the ages aren't clear, I surmised they were very young by the fact that one speaks like a three year old and the other is in primary school) and seems to have continued her ridiculously represented middle class chaotic life unabated by family responsibilities. The whole novel felt like it was still stuck in the late nineties except for the insertion of 21st century social media ie. twitter, texting and online dating sites. I read the book and deleted it from my kindle in disgust.
on 2 August 2014
I bought this having read the original two books years ago and I enjoyed those thoroughly. The singleton Bridget of the 1990s was a cultural phenomenon many could relate to. However, this third instalment is a huge disappointment and I fear that Helen Fielding may have tarnished Bridget's legacy permanently. I had to force myself to finish it as it was actually a rather unpleasant read.
*This review contains spoilers*
In my opinion Helen Fielding has transformed Bridget from a loveably scatty character into a selfish monster. It made sense that a singleton in her 30s such as Bridget would be wrapped up in her own feelings and goals, because she was a single working woman trying to make her own way in life. However, in 'Mad About The Boy', Bridget is 51 and a widow with two young children. Therefore, you would assume that she would have developed as a character during the 15 fictional years that have passed since the last instalment but for some strange reason, she has not. 51-year-old Bridget does not appear to have developed psychologically in any way since the last book, despite having been through several life-changing experiences. Although the opening section of the book is quite moving, it soon becomes clear that Bridget's general approach to life has remained the same as before, which just doesn't make sense. This in itself makes it extremely difficult to visualise Bridget as being 51 rather than in her mid-thirties.
Helen Fielding has taken Bridget's least attractive traits and exaggerated them to the point where all her former charm has been obliterated. Bridget is completely obsessed with her own needs and desires, primarily the pursuit of men and her physical appearance. Everyone else in her life comes way down her list of priorities, including her children. Bridget doesn't work and employs a nanny and a cleaner, yet still struggles to achieve the very short list of domestic tasks she has to deal with. I just can't understand this. 30-something Bridget may have been disorganised and chaotic but she was never an idiot. This new Bridget seems to be unable to handle much at all, to the extent where you wonder if she's actually mentally unstable.
My biggest problem with Bridget's character is her sidelining of her children. She shows a distinct lack of interest in them; for example, she barely shows any concern when she receives a message from her daughter's school saying her daughter has a septic finger! Bridget doesn't seem to be bothered about having much quality time or conversation with her children and spends most of the time palming them off on the nanny, friends or family - the result of this is that we are left knowing very little about them as characters. They are essentially objects wheeled into the story periodically to provide some pathos and then wheeled out again so that Bridget can go back to thinking about herself. Is this really the kind of parenting style Helen Fielding intended Bridget to have? If so, she (Ms Fielding) should be thoroughly ashamed of herself for creating such a self-centred, detached mother.
Helen Fielding has done a similar disservice to Bridget's 'co-stars', making them (almost) as unpleasant and two-dimensional as her heroine. Bridget's friends have been transformed from a witty support network to little more than cynical commentators whose main function is pushing Bridget around and criticising her. This is a shame, as in the earlier books Bridget's friends played such an important role in keeping her going.
As for the plot, it's hard to actually remember what happens in the story, even a couple of days after finishing the book. The key developments are that she dates a toy-boy, is dumped by him and then gets together with a man she initially disliked, after learning that he has integrity and hidden depths. It is essentially a re-hash of the first book's romantic plotline but even then, Roxster and Mr Wallaker are much blander versions of Daniel and Mark. Helen Fielding doesn't manage to make either relationship that believable - both men are left two-dimensional and unrounded as characters. The speed with which Bridget cements her relationship with Mr Wallaker at the end of the book is also totally implausible - she barely knows the man but within a few paragraphs and an epilogue has created domestic bliss with him. It's lazy writing on Helen Fielding's part to plonk a happy ending onto the end in such a vague and clumsy manner and expect readers to be satisfied and in my view, also quite arrogant.
Other than the romance, there is very little else of note in the plot. Bridget's day-to-day life is very dull and a sub-plot about her writing a screenplay, which could potentially have been compelling, is toyed with and ultimately left unresolved. Bridget's obsession with Twitter and texting quickly becomes extremely tedious, as does her friends' preoccupation with online dating. These elements are obviously a mechanism for bringing Bridget into the current era but Fielding overdoes it to such an extent that it becomes ludicrous and cringe-worthy.
When reading the book, I felt strongly that Fielding's mind was firmly focused on the inevitable movie adaptation. She has shoe-horned the character of Daniel Cleaver sporadically into the plot, presumably as a means of getting him on the movie poster and there is ubiquitous product placement throughout the book - I can't think that is purely unintentional. Furthermore, by the way certain characters are described, I got a strong impression that Fielding had already decided who she wanted to be cast for some parts and formed the characters accordingly. Rebecca smacks of Helena Bonham-Carter and Mr Wallaker, a former SAS man with a 'ripped body' who Bridget describes directly as 'James Bond', makes me wonder whether Fielding has her eye on Daniel Craig for that role. We will have to wait and see...
Of course, Bridget's world is still populated by upper middle-class, affluent, mainly white men and women who are obviously shallow in their friendships and world-view. This was the case in the previous books but in this one, Fielding positively revels in her portrayal of an elitist collection of parents decked out in designer clothes, dropping their pretentiously-named children off at the private school gates and seemingly having little else to do but e-mail trivialities about school events to each other. We are all used to this stereotypically charmed world which has been repeatedly shown in Richard Curtis movies but, in the context of a post-recession, ethnically diverse country, it is all rather distasteful and anachronistic.
I think I've gone on enough! I will end by saying that Bridget fans who decide to read this book should be prepared for disappointment.
First things first; I am a man. A not very fabulous man at that.
Feel free to disregard the rest of my review if you wish as clearly I am not Helen Fielding's target market either now or 15 years ago. In my defense, I did read and enjoy Bridget Jones' Diary back in the day. Oh and I have childcare responsibilities so a grown up Bridget should be right up my street.....
ANYWAY. Now you know my credentials or lack there of let's get on with the review:
I agree with every one of the 1 star reviews here, this is a dreadful book. All the points scored against it are easy shots:
The character has not changed in any way in 15 years despite parenthood and two significant bereavements
The tragic events glossed over in the recap are far more interesting then the trivia that makes up the actual plot of the novel, is Helen Fielding scared of depth?
It reads like a synopsis for a movie with Hugh Grant's character shoe horned in purely so the producers of the inevitable film can include his name on the poster
It is not funny - the comedy is horribly contrived and falls flat on it's bottom at every turn
The story is utter trivia - did I mention that already? It bears repeating!
And you will no doubt find your own list of personal pet hates.
Here are mine:
The dismal cultural research (Plants Vs Zombies is not a game in which children use zombies to destroy plants, there are no 'levels' to complete in Minecraft, the last time a child said "Epic Fail" in real life was 2010 and even then they were eternally shunned by their peers for using such dated parlance).
The constant product placement masquerading as authenticity (Apple and Grazia must be delighted among many, many others).
But my biggest problem is Bridget herself, or possibly Helen Fielding's world view as presented by Bridget Jones. Specifically Bridget's many failings as a parent, partner and friend are presented as lovable quirks intended to make her sympathetic. I found such behavior and attitudes fairly amusing 15 years ago but now that she has been cast as a parent see seems like a deeply selfish, self absorbed and shallow person. She completely eclipses her children in her own mind, along with everyone else in her life. Bridget is only really concerned about meeting her own needs. In reality this is hugely destructive in a child's life, so not funny or quirky then. Yes, I am being serious about a chic lit pseudo comic novel - but as the comedy doesn't really work I feel the novel leaves us with a very ugly central character who lives in a permanent state of excusing her own selfishness.
But maybe this is a clever dig at the western mindset? Probably not.
Which leads me on to my second biggest problem with the book; Bridget's life style. although she has suffered a huge personal loss Bridget does not have to work and has a nanny. This leaves her free to wallow in her obsessions, one of which just happens to be screen writing but could just as easily have been decoupage. Personally I am doing my parenting against the back ground of austerity Britain. Every time Bridget wastes a day reading magazines and tweeting then complains about her calorie intake and lack of productivity I find myself getting, well, a bit cross. Jealous yes. But frustrated that she doesn't grow up, turn her phone off, deny her own interests and commit to being present in the moment with her loved ones.
A clever dig by Fielding at the 1% perhaps? Nah, I doubt it.
So it's utter rubbish from being to end, an insult to working parents, to earnest non working parents, to feminism and a celebration of all that is banal in contemporary culture.
But....er, I couldn't put it down.
It's an easy breezy read and perfect for a commute, air port or pool side. Shame on me. Shame on us all.
2 stars then.
on 5 December 2013
Lovable, cuddly, foot-in-mouth, just-the-way-you-are Bridget is long gone. In her place is a 51 year old widow obsessed with finding a man (yes, still,- and while we're on the subject, what kind of a name is Roxster?!), losing weight (yes, still, - a referral to an obesity clinic at a size 14? Really Helen? Way to relate to a huge chunk of your original fans there...) and booze (mouthful of wine in the middle of a children's diarrhea/vomit incident? Really?).
As for "hilarious" - if you find nits, poo, vomit, farting, technophobia and juvenile name-calling among parents funny, then you'll split your sides within the first 150 pages. Otherwise, you'll sit as I did, cringing for this ridiculous woman.
Just keep in mind when reading this that Bridget is no longer in her thirties and trying to work out where her life is going. She's 51, with children raised by a Nanny (even though she doesn't work) and a stupid boyfriend. Her friends haven't grown up either, and her mother is still commenting on her life even though she's now in her seventies.
Helen seems to think we've all forgotten who Bridget is - lines from the first two books and films crop up repeatedly. "Daniel, my former emotional f*ckwit boyfriend and Mark's former arch-enemy" or "Running around naked on his parents lawn". Look, I'm all for finding love and discovering who you are no matter what your age, but when these characters are supposed to be in their fifties and they're still having telephone conversations that involve the words "what colour are your knickers, Jones?" - it's time to stop reading.
Helen made a huge mistake getting rid of one of the most popular characters, but she made an even bigger one by writing this drivel in the first place. It's obviously written with the intent of being turned into a film, because it's lost all the sparkle of the first two books and instead is heavily reliant on visuals that will work in a Hollywood movie. The sentence "it's raining men" is actually in here. Repeat references to the Dalai Lama's twitter account and numerous mentions of checking for followers made me want to heave.
on 14 October 2013
I'm not giving this book one star lightly. Indeed, the writing is at the upper end of chick lit and Bridget is an immensely likeable character despite being completely unchanged by the last 15+ years. If this had been a story about another fifty-something called Jane Smith or if this was the first time I'd read any of the Bridget Jones series I'd be giving it at least two more stars. However it wasn't and it's not.
Here come the spoilers*****
Since we left Bridget to live happily ever after with Mark Darcy they've had a few years of very happy marriage, then she lost her dad to cancer and had two gorgeous children. When her youngest child was three months old Darcy goes and gets himself killed doing noble things for a good cause, leaving her financially secure and never having to work again. Bridget has spent the proceeding four years being sad, getting fat changing nappies and not having sex. And only now does the third instalment dip into Bridget's infamous diary?? Sorry did Fielding feel none of the above would make a good novel? Well perhaps the next year of or so of Bridget's life was going to be totally mind blowing?
Errr no. Bridget is back at square one. Disastrous dates, too many self help books, diets galore, crazy supportive friends and a selection of suitors with the plot throughout the book being which will she end up with. Instead of career drama and office politics we now see Bridget drawn into childcare drama and playground politics and we have the added issues around dating in an Internet age. Daniel Cleaver made up with Mark before his death and is still around to provide amusing cameo appearances, sadly he's not around enough to rescue this poor third instalment. Essentially it's the same book as the original Bridget Jones' Diary with more money, children and twitter. Yes I'm someone who was gutted Mark had been killed off but he is just a fictional character and I thought perhaps Bridget's character would go somewhere new because of it. She did, Twitter. The twitter/texts/email conversations and Bridget's sudden obsession with social media was v.dull and somehow felt dated already. Just like the private school, middle-class, playground politics which were nothing more than classic chic-lit cliche.
I will confess Bridget's interactions with her children are both touching and amusing and by far the best bits of the book. Occasionally we are given glimpses of her life with Mark and it's heartbreaking being told about shared laughter over childcare issues and dinner parties they attended where Mark had Bridget's back in times of social faux pas - that's the book I wanted to be reading. Instead she goes on dates with unsuitable two dimensional characters that I don't care about. She obsesses about her weight and whether these guys will call her back or not. ***more spoilers*** The book was a slow read that I stuck with thinking, perhaps by the end she'd grow up and bravely accept a life alone with her kids, or die or something a bit more original. No she ends up with someone I don't care about and lives in quasi-happiness (until he dies for the fourth instalment of course :-)
I've never regretted reading a book as much as I regret reading this one. There is more to life than the search/chase/capture of 'the one'. There's all the good stuff that comes after. I invested time and emotion reading two books all about Bridget's successful pursuit of Mark Darcy. For the next book to have skipped over this good stuff straight into miserable singleton again, well it feels like I wasted my time with the other books , especially when Bridget remains largely unchanged by years of happy marriage followed by a young widowhood. Let's hope they keep the tradition of the films being nothing like the book to the degree that the film starts 10 years earlier. It won't be a film I'll be watching anyhow now the magic is ruined.
If you are a Bridget Jones fan, do yourself a favour and avoid this book like the plague.
on 28 October 2013
*MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*
I was really looking forward to this book but having read it I think this story should have finished at the end of the last one and our thoughts with her and Mark to live happily ever after. Sadly Mark has been killed off and BJ is back to being a sad singleton but this time it doesn't work. I think the author has tried too hard to be funny but unsuccessfully. I couldn't get my head around BJ being a fiftysomething widow mum of two with a toy boy. Just didn't work for me. The overuse of "Gaaah" whenever she remembered something she should have done or a realisation came to her became quite tedious to me too (and I can't remember that in her earlier books). I also couldn't get my head around Daniel Cleaver's role in it too - I mean, godfather to their kids? Would Mark really have agreed to that?
I think that to continue the story it should have been her as a married mum with the funny bits being the everyday life of being a mum/wife/worker and going through things that we can all relate to in that role. Throwing her back into singledom again was just not right for me.
All in all very disappointed as I loved the first two books and expected great things.
on 27 December 2013
What a shame, I loved the first two books. This one is boring, badly written and uses text conversations and Twitter rubbish far too often. Plus, what is the point of having a book about Bridget without Mr Darcy? Should have left it at 2 books- had to force myself to finish it.
on 25 March 2014
This book was so much more than a disappointment, it actually made me physically cringe at certain points. Fielding's pathetic attempts to reflect the modern world were totally out of touch with reality. I don't know a single person who might identify with Bridget or her friends, who only seem to pop up to quote some crappy mantra, from a self help book that most of the world has forgotten about. Bridget has been blessed with children but they are far too young considering that she and Mr Darcy ran off into the sunset almost two decades ago. What's most annoying, the children seem to be at the bottom of Bridget's upper middle class priority list, making her a pretty unlikable character. This book's most unforgivable fault, is that it killed off Mr Darcy before the first page in order to clear the way for Bridget to enter the modern dating world. The reader would have forgiven Fielding for splitting up the happy couple, in a trial separation or divorce, maybe throw in a teenage child or two and some dating disasters which the reader may relate to, before they ultimately realise their love for each other again. In fact, I would still urge Fielding to write that book, the first chapter could start with Bridget waking up from a bad dream.....This awful book. Honestly, Fielding its not to late to scrap it and start again!!
One star and that's being generous
on 26 December 2013
this is a travesty - a book about nothing with a heroine that doesn't have the appeal she did int he earlier books. Not worth the money
on 23 December 2013
Really mixed feelings about the book. the twitter /text stuff was soooo boring and I nearly gave up there. However as I got into the book, it became really depressing and as a 50 something myself a bit scary. But the dates didn't add up , she had a baby at 48? Then to finish it off she met a man so like Mark.. . No if you loved the 1st two books , keep away from this.