Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Case For Bridget: Review of Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Back in 2011 I explained, however briefly, my own connection/relationship to this quirky character, Bridget Jones in a blog post about the music from the film: "Fiction, to Film, to Fantastic Music Friday: Bridget Jones Diary."  So how do I put into words how many mixed emotions I had about this third book coming out?  First off, I immediately pre-ordered it in hardback, because I have the previous books in hardback and am compulsive enough in this situation that I had to complete my set.  I then sat back and watched and listened as the world exploded into mass discussions about bits of the leaked story and how unhappy they all were with it.  Listen, I couldn't NOT read this novel if I wanted to, and I would NOT choose to just let this story go.  In the end, I firmly believe we all have to look at what Helen Fielding meant to do with these novels.  She wrote a story about a character named Bridget Jones, and this is quite possibly the culmination of her story.  How could I let it go when I had let her into my life so fully before this?  Yea.  Wasn't going to happen.  Like it or not, I HAD TO KNOW what happened!

***Spoilers Ahead.  If you have not heard anything about what has had the interwebs up in arms about this novel, then my review might not be a good place to start.***

Review:  Life's not perfect.  Is that not one of the reasons that we somehow love and connect to Bridget Jones?  Things always get messy for her, and yet it worked out for her in the end.  We saw ourselves in her, and wanted and hoped for a certain amount of our own stupid imperfections to be overlooked.  For this reason, I walked into book three knowing full well that this was going to be Bridget's story.  Helen Fielding wrote these novels about Bridget to begin with, and that's what I expected and have grown to love.  I care about her and her silly hang ups, and in the end, am willing to see where they take her.  Because of that, this book honestly took me on a strange journey that I didn't see coming.  Maybe I'm a few years older than when I read those earlier happy-go-lucky twenty something tales, but I really loved this book, and shed some pretty heartfelt tears on several occasions in reading this book.  Bridget is still Bridget.  I don't know what readers expected?  We find that Bridget is still clumsy, making silly choices, thinking irrationally, and feeling lonely.  But, she has matured and been through a lot, which is shown to us over the course of the book.  That, I completely appreciated.

Yes.  Mark Darcy is dead.  There, I said it like Dickens said it in The Christmas Carol.  I mean no disrespect, but some of the biggest nay-sayers I've seen to this book have been so hung up over this fact that I want to lay that out as the fact that it is.  Yes, we're in the present day, and Bridget is now 50 with two small children to raise. The story doesn't take up immediately after the fact, and the children were too young to completely remember him, so no the story does not wax on poetic about it.  He's not eliminated from the story or some sort of afterthought, but realistically, what happens to a person/character when life isn't the "Happily Ever After" that they think it will be?  What we do end up getting in the story are appropriate flashbacks and scenes, that show how she has handled the loss and the rearing of her children.  Honestly, I thought it was handled well and on point for this character.  Where would we expect her to be five years after the fact? 

One thing that Fielding 100% nailed was the grieving process after a certain number of years.  Somehow Fielding captured these moments where Bridget would remember something about Mark, no matter how fleeting, and they were just perfect.  She didn't wallow in them, because she didn't have time to, but you could see how completely present they still were in her life.  Perfect.  That is real. 

Bridget does wander, wholeheartedly, back into dating.  It's rather uncomfortable to watch her efforts at times, but when you consider the uncertain Bridget in her 20s and then imagine this woman in her 50s with two children who has lost such an amazing husband, how would I expect her to bounce right back into dating with ease?  Of course, she has that certain air of insecurity that you wish you could shake out of her, that even her kids see in her.  (Is it the same insecurity she saw in her mother?)  Maybe these are things that, in a sense, we really do end up working on our entire lives.  We can insert our own moralities and ideologies onto Bridget, but from her own worldview, family, and friends, she's doing the best she can.

Sincerely, I loved Mad About the Boy and have no problem adding it to the rest of the collection.  Was it the ending I hoped for or envisioned?  No way, but honestly, life has a way of doing that, so I'm okay with it.


  1. Meh, still really don't want to read it. :)

    1. Aw. It's pretty good. Maybe it's not for everyone, but I liked it. :)