Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy – Helen Fielding

Dear Diary, in the last three weeks; audio books listened to: one Mad About The Boy, weight during that process: who cares I don’t use scales, amount of nits in household: none but kept scratching head, amount tweeted: over 500, amount texted: clueless because I am not obsessed by it, times have been annoyed by the word ‘texted’: at least ten, amount of times made uncomfortable by Bridget Jones sex life: five, amount breathed: lost count.

Jonathan Cape/Random House audiobooks, 2013, 11hrs 23mins, read by Samantha Bond, sent by audible/Midas PR

I am hoping that the little intro note gives you a rough idea of what you might have to face if you pick up Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy and the fact that there may be some tongue firmly in cheek in my thoughts on it. Before I go any further I do want to make an announcement, I was a huge fan of the first Bridget Jones book and indeed the movie. I just wanted to put that out there before anyone says that this is not a book written for me and so it’s natural I would have issues/not like it very much/almost give up on several occasions. But let us get back to the book shall we?

Bridget Jones is back. Mark Darcy is dead (not a spoiler as this was hyped to death when the book came out). Bridget is a single mum of two with a secret toy boy hiding in the bedroom. She is still completely neurotic, rather clumsy and obsessive. She is also heartbroken. Her friends Jude and Tom are still around, though now they are joined by Talitha. She has the mums at the school gates to deal with and the prospect of nits. There is much fodder here for a Bridget who forays into the modern world and all its social media glory.

I really wanted to enjoy Mad About The Boy as I was just in the mood for some lovely escapism. Alas I didn’t really get on with it. The main problems for me, weren’t controversially that Mark Darcy is dead as actually some moments surrounding the aftermath of that are hauntingly good, were that from the moment I heard that her toy boy was called Roxster (seriously!?!) and her new best friend Talitha (I say new, I couldn’t remember her of old) and then realised she was pretty well off and had no real money worries, I realised this was a new Bridget but not in a good way.

What I always loved about Bridget before, how daft she was really, now at the age of 51 really annoyed me and often made me want to shout ‘oh get a grip love’. Not at her grief I hasten to add, but at her utter naivety and complete lack of self awareness that really she should have moved on from. Did I want to read about her problems with joining twitter and obsession over no followers – erm no, but I got three or four chapters on it. Did I want to hear about her sex life with a man half her age, no? But boy oh boy do you get that in intricate awkward detail. I have no issue with age differences – I have an issue with Bridget telling me every position she could get into and every element of the appendage of ‘Cock-ster’, as I started to call him.

The jokes were sort of the same as before, and I laughed a bit but not much. There was a lot about farting, which got pretty tiring. Jude was still saying ‘fuckwit’ a lot and still having issues with Vile Richard. Her married friends were still smug marrieds, only she was a widow now. Daniel was still popping up now and again obsessing with her ‘panties’. Apart from her children, who are cute and with nits and a horrendous case of diarrhoea and vomiting add a few laughs, there is nothing new here and the old stuff does feel very old.

There are two sad things in all of this for me. Firstly having loved her so much previously, I wanted to relate to Bridget and lover her all over again. Okay I haven’t been widowed but my marriage fell apart, which was pretty horrendous, and I found myself lost and in a whole new world I couldn’t quite fathom or function in. So I empathised to a point, there is only so long you can be lost or lose yourself and you have to want to function again and move on and most importantly learn. Bridget never does and what was once endearing about her was bloody annoying this time around. Secondly, I was upset for Fielding herself as when she writes about Bridget’s loss and the epic whole in her life, it is genuinely heartbreaking and beautifully written, plus had a political point behind it, and I wanted more of that and less about the farting toy boy and just how hard he was. Oh and don’t get me started on the amount of times the word ‘texted’ grated. You haven’t texted someone, you’ve text them.

I should here add that I listened to this all on audio book as I mentioned above and oddly, though I ended spending longer with it than if I had read it, I think if it hadn’t been in my ears as I was hovering, cleaning, popping round the supermarket etc I might have given it up completely. Samantha Bond injects as much heart as she can into the material and so it is an entertaining listen overall.

The only way I can really sum up the experience of Mad About The Boy is that it feels like going to a reunion and catching up with someone who was your very best friend in youth, only to realise you have outgrown them and you aren’t sure you like them anymore and that maybe you should have turned that invite down. I wanted to love Bridget Jones again and just escape into her rather madcap world once more for the nostalgia and the giggles but despite occasional glimmers of that in the main I was left with a lingering feeling of disappointment, opportunities missed. I don’t think it’s her, I think it’s me – I have moved on, Jones hasn’t and maybe never will.

Who else has read Mad About The Boy, or listened to it, and what did you think? Were you a massive fan of the original who has steered clear? Which other characters can you think of who you loved when you first read/met and then grew apart on as you read on or re-read?

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34 Comments

Filed under Audiobooks, Helen Fielding, Jonathan Cape Publishers, Random House Publishing, Review

34 responses to “Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy – Helen Fielding

  1. I’m not much of a Briget Jones fan, I never really fell into the novels or enjoyed the films much. Not because of the style or genre, just because I didn’t think I could deal with all the embarrassing situations. I don’t think I will be reading this installment, from what you’ve written I know I wouldn’t enjoy it.

    “You haven’t texted someone, you’ve text them.” YES, this annoys me to no end.

    • Never crossed my mind the texted/text difference, although now that you’ve both said it, I can see it’s perfectly true. In America we do say “texted” rather than “text”, but I don’t know why Helen Fielding would have picked it up.

      • I saw in another review that Fielding seems to have filled this books with Americanisms of English the whole way through, lots of ‘z’ that should be ‘s’ to UK readers eyes etc. I have to say this is the only one I noticed but it really annoyed me – no offence to those who use it ;)

    • See I love the embarrassing situations because I am someone who has them all the time and embarrasses really easy, so these always make me feel better.

      I don’t know why the texted thing got to me so much but it did.

  2. AJ

    I realise I was the exception since I hated the movie so much I didn’t read the book or see the sequel. Bridget just did so many dumb-to-the-point-of-moronic things that I lost patience with her and her weight/man obsessions before 30 minutes of the movie had elapsed. She bored me. I’d rather read Georgette Heyer’s weakest book 100 times than plow through Mad About the Boy. But I’m not overstating the case or anything. :-/

    • Amen to that! I thought the first book was marginally better than the movie but all in all so stupid I lost patience. How Colin Firth could have starred in such a movie is beyond me. I certainly won’t be bothering with Mad About the Boy. And yes, I too think that even a bad Georgette Heyer is better…

    • Hahahaha this has just made me laugh and laugh AJ. I liked the first book and movie for those reasons, the gentle escapism I guess.

  3. I had pretty much the same experience as you Simon, and wrote a similarly disappointed review a month ago: http://readingshoesblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/bridget-jones-mad-about-the-boy-by-helen-fielding/

  4. “now at the age of 51 really annoyed me and often made me want to shout ‘oh get a grip love’.” This part of your review made me LOL, but I fear ole Bridge is done.

    • But she should. I am not being funny but both my Gran, bless her, and The Beard’s mother (both in early seventies) can work their way around an iPad and social media, and if they have had any issues they haven’t gone on and on and on and on about it, drove me mad.

  5. Must admit: was never a fan of the BJ franchise… tried to read the first book but it was a touch too neurotic, but I was really disappointed to hear about the “death” of Darcy. It seems like a press gimmick…

  6. Lisa Roberts

    Are you going to Booktopia Vermont? I saw your tweet and I’m hoping it’s true!

    >________________________________ > From: Savidge Reads >To: liebaysa@yahoo.com >Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 6:00 AM >Subject: [New post] Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy – Helen Fielding > > > > WordPress.com >savidgereads posted: “Dear Diary, in the last three weeks; audio books listened to: one Mad About The Boy, weight during that process: who cares I don’t use scales, amount of nits in household: none but kept scratching head, amount tweeted: over 500, amount texted: clueless be” >

  7. Ruthiella

    I loved Bridget Jones’ Diary (the book, I never saw either film). I thought it was laugh out loud funny and totally relatable and I have re-read parts of it since and still love it. But the points you made above (“‘oh get a grip love”) occurred to me when I read the Edge of Reason and that made me like slightly older Bridget a little less. Like you, I had moved on but Bridget hadn’t.

    • Yes, I didn’t love Edge of Reason as much, though I quite liked it – the Thailand stuff made me quite cross and push the levels of the believable. I thought that this might be better from the feedback that one had and that we might find a more mature, but broken, Bridget who moved on and she never quite does and becomes almost unlikeable.

  8. I always thought it was “texted” as this is surely the past tense of “to text”? I find it really annoying when people say “I text someone” because it sounds like the present tense – i.e. “I am texting” whereas “texted” means “I have sent a text”. I assumed saying “I text someone” was a Norfolk thing as it’s similar to other ways of phrasing things here.

    • No I think the texted thing (how funny this is the big conversation to come from this book) is just not done in the UK. I would say ‘Oh I’ve text them’ or ‘I just text’, not texted.

  9. Col

    I’d pretty much planned to give Mad About The Boy a miss – the reviews to date seem poor and it’s all a bit frothy and over-hyped. So I’ve taken two things from your review – one I will definitely give it a miss! The second one is that like Bridget I’m also 51 – so I’m taking your stern expectations to heart and have told myself to bloody grow up a bit!!!!!!
    On characters I used to love but grew out of I used to love Biggles as a kid. I read it again last year and got two things out of it – the books are basically crap – and I need to bloody grow up a bit again!!!!

  10. I really like the first BJ Jones and quite liked the second one, although not as much as the first one. I planned to give this new book a miss, and when I read your review I think I was right. I really enjoyed reading your review, by the way.
    Kind regards,

    • Bettina, if it piques your interest at all ignore me and read it anyway. I would never want to put someone off any book, it is only my grumbling opinion, ha! I would say if you wanted to try it… wait for the paperback which I am sure will be in every supermarket next summer.

  11. I *loved* Bridget Jones in my twenties (and beyond). I could relate to her romantic woes (some of them, at any rate) and her feeling of being the only single gal at the party, etc. etc. And that interview with Colin Firth in “The Edge of Reason” is still one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

    Now I’m in a different place myself (wife, mom) so I’m intrigued to see whether the “older” Bridget speaks to the older me. I’m hearing mixed things about the book but I’ll read it anyhow. (Love your reunion analogy, by the way.)

    • Thanks Ginny and glad to see you are going to give it a whirl, would be very interested in your thoughts and see how as you have grown and Bridget has grown how that relationship stands with you now.

  12. I have been resistant about reading this, as I did love the first book and also liked the second.. In the end I did put it on my Christmas list, feeling I must at least “own” it or something, given how much I liked the previous books. But I have just popped over to all sites with a list and deleted it. I don’t think I could face reading this. I’d like to cherish the Bridget I knew.

  13. I listened to this on audio as well and liked it. It definitely has a different feel from the first two and I didn’t love it as much but still liked it. Bridget was at a very different place in her life, which I think explains some of the differences, and I do think she has matured quite a bit. I agree that the sex was super awkward. The first two books didn’t get explicit and I’m curious why Fielding made that choice this time.

    Why would the past tense of “text” be “text”? Once that word became a verb, it began acting as a verb. That’s why the past tense has an “ed.” Why wouldn’t it?

    • The sex was horrendous and some of it was meant to be funny but I almost wanted to be sick in my own mouth. Not good. I didn’t think she had matured at all, that was my problem. We don’t all have to be serious and po-faced when we get older – I don’t know anyone really who is – but after the death of Darcy I would have thought something would have clicked and it didn’t seem to have.

      I think the text vs texted thing is an English thing. I don’t know anyone who says texted… its just I’ve text, or ‘I just text’

      • AJ

        I’m not religious myself but I very much admire C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves — even if he has on occasion been charged with misogyny, his essay on erotic love still seems very wise to me … in life and literature, sex should be approached with humor and perspective. The strain always shows when people try too hard to be funny or provocative.

  14. I completely agree, and yet I enjoyed the book… Probably because I’m the mother of a small child and ignored the other parts. I do agree that as the book began, and as I realized she was now in her early 50s and yet sounded exactly the same, same obsessions, same insecurities, I felt a little sickened, too. Then the heart-rending Darcy parts made me think maybe she just wasn’t coping that well, and I mostly forgave her for being a Peter Panner. I do agree the sex was sick-making. As sick-making as the fart/ vomit flirting. Whaaa was that??? Glad I wasn’t the only one. Thought I was maybe being prudish.

    • The bits with the children and the way Fielding writes about grief were the two stand out parts of the book for me. The rest was ‘meh’ apart from the sex, and indeed the fart flirting now you mention it, which was just crass. I’m no prude at all but it was unnecessary.

  15. Julianne Myers

    and the LICE! that really should have been worked on in in editing and changed up or diminished quite a bit. and Fielding has indulged in her usual casting the leading man in the inevitable film version-if they can find ms. zellweger- by saying he looks like Daniel Craig

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