Monday, February 10, 2014

mad about the boy

I'm behind the times, reviewing the new Bridget Jones novel in February 2014 - but that can't be helped.  Here is my review.

It's been quite a long time since I read the first two Bridget Jones books, and I'd kind of forgotten what to expect when I picked up the new one.  I'm quite glad it worked that way - it was fun getting to know Bridget Jones again, in this, the new Helen Fielding novel.

I hope I'm not bursting anyone's bubble when I say right from the beginning that it is a widowed Bridget that we meet this time round.  Helen Fielding let us know that before the novel even came out, and although at the time I gasped and said "How could she?" I am glad she at least let us know or it would have been a terrible surprise.

She's still the illogically charming Bridget we (at least I) grew to love in the other books.  All the same, she's different... Widowed for about five or six years, in her late 40s (or early 50s?) with two small children, she's still somewhat scatty and adorably clueless at times, but she's responsible for two human lives - all by herself, overwhelmed but determined to 'Keep Buggering On'.  I would be lying if I didn't admit that I blubbed my way through much of the book.  Bridget has always been a character you invest in, root for, and this novel just builds on that.

Happily, Fielding has not got rid of ALL the old characters along with Mark Darcy.  It's great to see some of the old crowd - Daniel Cleaver, for example - in a different setting.  It's also wonderful to see a whole bunch of new larger-than-life characters in Bridget's new stage of life, e.g. Bridget's children, the school mums, teachers, nannies, et cetera.  I think this is what Fielding's really good at - a sort of social satire that is so true and so revealing but somehow also warm about people in general and all our eccentricities.  I also think she really hit the nail on the head exploring the theme of grief.

The plot is a little predictable, I guess - but it was skilfully orchestrated, and in this genre I think that's okay.  I enjoyed it, and it brought me satisfaction to see Bridget triumph over sadness and loneliness (and I don't think that is a spoiler - the book was never going to end sadly, it started too sadly, and you can't possibly tell me you thought it would not be a happy ending).

In the end, I thought this was a really lovely book.  I got quite wound up in it, and enjoyed every minute, even the sad bits.  It was a pleasure to read and I think that's a beautiful thing.  So I am giving it four stars.  Thank you, Helen Fielding!

P.S. The book did seem a little more explicit than they used to be, so be warned if that's a problem for you.

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