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.
on 6 January 2014
I think I must be reading a different book to a lot of the other reviewers. Here are my comments (mild spoilers):
- Bridget Jones was an infuriating, self-obsessed (but lovable) charicature in the first two books. Have people forgotten this? She was less irritating in the films but I always wanted to give the character in the book a good shake. And that's saying something coming from one of life's procrastinators (e.g. I should be preparing for important meeting right now but instead am reviewing this book). Anyway, she's the same now.
- Quite why people think she should have "grown up" between mid-30s to early 50s is beyond me. Mid-30s is pretty "grown up"! Do people really change that much as they get older??
- Not sure why people think she isn't putting her children first. Errr ... she is, but she is also a human being and allowed a life independent of her children. And what on earth is wrong with her wanting to move on and find another relationship some 4-5 years after the tragic death of the love of her life
- I personally think Helen Fielding has dealt with the whole issue of bereavement and the difficulty in moving on/guilt/etc very well.
- Also not sure why readers are getting their knickers in a twist about certain characters being in/out of the book and how the book has been written with the film in mind. Of course it has been!!
In summary, I haven't been able to put it down. Loved it!
on 31 January 2014
Oh god, this book is awful. I struggled to stay with it until the end. Its dull, childish and repetitive. I imagine Helen Fielding thought, whatever I write its Bridget Jones so people will buy it. A funny, likable 30 something has become a lazy, useless 50 something mother.
on 12 January 2014
I read the reviews for this book but bought it hoping that perhaps everyone was being harsh and judgemental. Unfortunately I was wrong.
I am one of the early day Bridget Jones fans who started with the newspaper series and then moved onto the book. I could relate to book Bridget as her experiences were things that could (had) easily happen to me. I was disappointed with the films at first as they were nothing like the imagined Bridget in my head. To me, she was a normal woman experiencing normal woman challenges and insecurities, and her fair share of embarrassments. The films turned her into a flailing blonde without a brain cell. She was nothing that I could relate to. It was only until years later that I was able to separate the book and the film and enjoy the film for the mindless humour that it offered.
The book is based on the film. You can read the book and see the film characters, particularly Daniel Cleaver. I can't identify with this Bridget in any way, and whilst I have had the book for 2 months I am less that a quarter of the way through and wondering whether to bother finishing it.
Really disappointing as I was once the original Bridget Jones 'singleton' fan and could relate so many of my experiences to the book Bridget. This book Bridget is just vacant and bland.
Apologies to the other original Bridget fans if this sounds harsh.
on 26 August 2014
Well, Helen Fielding, you are forgiven for killing off Mark Darcy. I can see why you did it. For Bridget to live in marital bliss just wouldn't work for a whole new novel. The passages in which we share Bridget's struggle with her new lot in life are truly heart wrenching, and the parts where we realise that a leopard doesn't change its spots and our Bridget is still as mad as a box of frogs are so hilarious that I just couldn't out this beautiful gut wrenching, out-loud-laughmaking novel down. It was a tears-of-joy stained early morning ending for me, not least at the mixed emotions that mean whilst we know that'll surely be it for our beloved Bridget, we can see she is in safe hands once more xx
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 14 May 2015
I downloaded this to take on holiday with me and was really excited as I'd been waiting since it was released to immerse myself in it...
What a let down! The style of writing didn't seem to flow at all. It wasn't as funny as her other two books. I had no idea how old Bridget is meant to be now. It took ages to explain what had happened to Mark and as a character I loved, I would have liked to have felt empathy for them both as opposed to a few lines explanation.
Predictable in places. Frustrating in others. As a 30 year old, I don't spend my life on twitter but I do know you don't gain or lose hundreds of followers over night. Do your research if you're going to try and use social media as a reference throughout the book.
I want to get hold of Bridget, give her a good shake and tell her how lucky she is to have her children, a nanny (despite not working herself!) and quite frankly a life that most of us can only wish for.
The once loveable character really let me down. I ploughed through the book but it was quite easy to put down and walk away from. I am really disappointed.