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.
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?