I watched Bridget Jones – The Edge of Reason last night. I could watch it many times over, a bit like Pride and Prejudice, that one. I needed to see that proposal one more time, particularly since things/dynamics have changed in this new book. That last kiss – one that gave us hope of things to come between Mark and Bridget – made my heart swell with joy as I watched the end or um, the beginning of Mark and Bridget’s life together. I genuinely tried not to think too much about what I most missed in this third book. I understand what people are saying about it, and I struggled with Fielding’s decisions, yet, there was a light. One that flickered on and off – and eventually turned on. I loved seeing Bridget in that glow.
While this book is much about Bridget soldiering on, her place in the world has changed. It was a shock to my system. By the time I received my copy, I knew what Fielding had in store for Bridget, I nearly wept. In fact, I wanted to sit down next to Colin Firth when Fielding broke the news to him.. um, had he called on me of course, I would have held his hand.
In spite of it all, I wanted to read the book. I grieved and lamented my loss, and er, I’m pretty certain it was a loss hard felt by many readers and ardent followers. Here’s the thing though, I laughed out loud anyway. I mean really laughed. There is so much pain, but the grieving process is beautiful, in that it is all very real. No elaborate prose or ridiculous story lines ( um, well, the nits/lice part of the book was long but hilarious to me, and it will be if you are a parent) accompanying any of it. It is the English way – pull up your socks and do your best. Grief is more palpable and potent in that simplicity. It is ever-present, but the book is never depressing nor overwhelming.
Bridget is now a widow. She has lost Mark. She’s lost Mark to a landmine in Darfur. His loss is difficult to fathom, especially to those of us who cherished the introduction of this new Darcy( a modern, yet aloof Darcy) and watched him fall for Bridget, slowly, rescuing her from herself or did she rescue him instead? We then saw Bridget evolve from a madcap adventure that led her to a Thai jail only to be saved by Mark, returning home to a sweet proposal, that seemed perfect. It is especially palpable to those of us who longed to see Colin Firth reprising his role as the charming human rights lawyer, making a go of the marriage.
We pick up five years after Mark’s death when Bridget is struggling with the distraction of the news that her children have brought home lice. Billy ( who is a picture of Mark) will not give up his video games and Mabel who has a very cute lisp (with her stuffed animals horsio, saliva, puffle one and two) aren’t listening to her. She is writing her first screen play and trying to figure out if bringing her 30 yr old boyfriend Roxter to her friend Thalia’s( Shazz’s replacement in the book) 60th birthday party would be appropriate. I found Bridget to be right where I wanted. It is smartly written with such brilliant bursts of humor you almost forget she is a mum. A 50-year-old mum. She is struggling. She is grieving and lonely. She has responsibilities, she can’t fail, she can’t give up and yet she does. She does fail, over and over, but she tries again. I think part of the allure of this character is her ability to make us laugh and laugh at ourselves at the same time. Our strange obsession with weight, dating, dating a younger man, social media and depression are all current. It is perhaps Fielding’s way of evolving the story and injecting modern-day crises i.e nits, gym teacher who makes Bridget feel extremely inept, grief and single parenting. You feel so much for Bridget as she puts on this forced, cheerful demeanor in order to keep things from falling apart, more for her children who need her, because as far as Bridget is concerned she would rather stay in bed, consumed with misery, and eat copious amounts of pasta or ice cream. Somehow the notion that Mark is watching over them is conveyed in subtle ways. I found the pure white, barn owl to be symbolic of something divine.
Bridget has just discovered Twitter. I think her tweets are some of the funniest lines in the book, in spite of reviews that say the characters are one-dimensional. I loved the surge of joy she felt at gaining so many followers, the need/ pressure to say very clever things and then tweet while drunk, all the while learning that you can’t take something back once you’ve released it into the cyber world. It is a relationship of sorts without the ties that bind, she comments on whatever is going on in her life and countless, nameless followers tweet back. It speaks volumes of her loneliness. I believe Fielding wanted to convey that emotion. The humor is spot on.
There is no one but Bridget who will obsess over the number of her twitter followers, her weight, the number of texts she has sent and received, her inability to write a proper screen play, how to sneak her new boy friend Roxter into the house while the children are asleep and out how to get rid of an infestation of hair nits( lice), all the while shoveling grated cheese into her mouth as if it is the next best foodie discovery. Fielding makes the whole book down to earth, funny, mad and very, very sad.
Book – Bridget Jones – Mad about the Boy By Helen Fielding
- Hard cover, 386 pages
- Published by, Alfred A. Knopf and Alfred A. Knopf of Canada
- First Edition, 2013
- ISBN 978-0-385-35086-0