When I heard that Helen Fielding had a new Bridget Jones novel coming out, I'll admit it, I got a little excited. I have always really enjoyed Helen Fielding, and I loved Bridget Jones's Diary in both novel and film form.*
If you're not aware of the story (and where have you been, if not?) it all started in 1996 with Bridget Jones's Diary (follow the link for the plot summary), featuring the British thirty-something "singleton" character of Bridget Jones, presented through her own diary. Jones was a lovable female scamp, always battling her weight and cigarette and alcohol dependencies, and she couldn't help loving the hilarious, dashing asshole (played perfectly by Hugh Grant in the movies), although eventually she fell for the much more staid but surprisingly much more romantic Mark Darcy. A sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, followed, and now, more than a decade later, Fielding has written another installment in the story titled Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy.
Now, I could do a huge spoiler here, but I'm not going to. Suffice it to say that the book opens with a ballsy character development choice on the part of Fielding. Many readers were not happy about it, but I had to give her credit for trying the unexpected, and for the most part, I think she pulled it off. But the point of these novels is not the story. Much like fellow Brit Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole diaries (also hilarious), the appeal here is the character. I just love Bridget Jones. In this book, she has a couple of kids, and it gives her new perspective. One of my favorite passages in the book is when she sees a neighbor struggling with her own kids (and she can relate):
"Suddenly the upstairs window in the house opposite shot open and a pair of Xbox remotes hurtled out, landing with a smash next to the dustbins.
Seconds later, the front door was flung open and the bohemian neighbor appeared, dressed in fluffly pink mules, a Victorian nightdress and a small bowler hat, carrying an armful of laptops, iPads and iPods. She teetered down the front steps and shoved the electronics in the dustbin, with her son and two of his friends following her, wailing, 'Nooooo! I haven't finished my leveeeeel!'
'Good!' she yelled. 'When I signed up for having children, I did NOT sign up to be ruled by a collection of inanimate thin black objects and a gaggle of TECHNO-CRACKHEADS refusing to do anything but stare with jabbing thumbs, while demanding that I SERVICE them like a computer tech crossed with a five-star hotel concierge. When I didn't have you, everyone spent their whole time saying I'd change my mind. And guess what? I've had you. I've brought you up. And I've CHANGED MY MIND!'
I stared at her, thinking, 'I have to be friends with that woman.'" (p. 89.)
I don't care what anyone says. That is funny. And good writing. And I'm not ashamed to say I consumed the entire book as fast as I could, like a box of good chocolates, and I enjoyed every single moment. Even when I read it at 3 a.m., after feeding my own new baby, who will most likely grow up to be a spoiled techno-crackhead himself.
*Which reminds me, it's about time to watch this movie again; I often re-watch it around the holidays. I think because the movie begins and ends around Christmas time, it always strikes me as a Christmasy movie. And who doesn't love a movie that offers Hugh Grant in perhaps the most perfectly cast role he's ever played? (The casting of Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, in a brilliant twist on his role of Mr. Darcy on the BBC's Pride and Prejudice adpatation, was also a stroke of genius, and seems to indicate Colin Firth has a sense of humor.)