Review: Mad About the Boy- Helen Fielding
She taught us that sliding down a fire station pole in a skirt is never a good thing, vodka and Chaka Khan is the way forward in times of crisis and to never judge a man by his tacky Christmas jumper. But is bestselling Mad About The Boy one Bridget novel too far?
Do we want to know what happens to Bridget next? Maybe there’s a reason Jane Austen didn’t write up a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Where is the 30-something, alcohol-consuming, disastrous in dating singleton that we all love, and why would we want to read about the lacklustre 51 year old and mother of two in her replacement?
She may spend her time counting her children’s nits and struggling to tweet instead of knocking back vodkas, but you’ll be pleased to hear that the defining, chick-lit heroine is far from the boring and inept, middle-aged single parent we were expecting.
The writing is as sharp and witty as ever and Fielding has not lost the wonderful ability, so integral to the Bridget books, that picks up on everyday occurrences that makes the reader laugh and think ‘oh god, I actually did that yesterday…’
The novel starts –spoiler alert – five months after Mark Darcy’s death. Yes, you read that right. Bridget finally got her fairy tale ending only for her husband to be killed (and you will never guess how he died.) Bridget is now widowed with her two children Billy and Mabel, of whom salacious bad- boy and ex-boyfriend Daniel Cleaver is now Godfather to.
The novel really isn’t the same without Mark but despite this, Helen Fielding has still pulled it off and offers readers a colourful and very moving account of what Bridget did next.
True to a typical Bridget Jones plot and gloriously apparent in Mad About the Boy, everything seems to be running smoothly until she’s hit by another surge of completely ridiculous problems that leaves her in a bit of a pickle.
With the support of her friends who care deeply about her sex life and fling her back into the bewildering world of dating, she bags herself a toyboy called Roxster. But after wild romps night after night with a man twenty years your junior, you can guess at how that turns out. Any form of technology is completely mystifying and her son understands it better than her:
‘’Stop being scared of turning on the television,” she scolds herself, “but instead simply locate and read instruction manual for TV, Virgin box, DVD remotes and buttons so that TV becomes source of entertainment and pleasure rather than meltdown.”
She constantly tells herself to be confident and calm, but this is hard to do when your child’s gym teacher has caught you with gonorrhoea and syphilis leaflets that your daughter grabbed from the doctors waiting room.
And of course there are the other, smaller problems. The unique diary structure written in the light, breezy style of the first two novels reveals the worries of grown-up Bridget as she agonises daily over mounting calories (3482, bad), alcohol units (don’t even want to think about it), twitter followers (873) and number of texts from toyboys (texts from Roxster 0, number of times checked for texts from Roxster 4567).
She still has to deal with her erratic mum who encourages her to go on a Christmas cruise for people aged 50+, she lands herself in an obesity clinic after piling on the pounds and struggles to keep up with the latest fashion trends:
‘‘5.45am Have got up an hour early to get styled and groomed for school run in manner of Stella McCartney, Claudia Schiffer or similar. Feel my look is marvellous, still with skinny jeans and ballet pumps
‘‘9.30am Back from school run with latest edition of Grazia and found an article headed: Is This the End of the Skinny jean?’’’
The hilarity springs from the pages but Bridget’s love for her children and her struggles as a grieving single parent in the tragic aftermath of Mark’s death also make it a very raw and touching story.
The new novel isn’t the same with Mark Darcy absent from the plot. But from the perils of skinny jeans to internet dating to remembering to pick up her kids from school, Mad About the Boy offers a heart-warming story with humour and touching moments in equal measure, reminding us that life isn’t always doom and gloom. Introducing a selection of vibrant characters old and new, Bridget has rocketed back into our lives and with her comes calamity and disaster that make for a very pacy, enjoyable read.
Do I recommend you to read it? Yes, despite the negative feedback from some readers I actually enjoyed it!
Genre: romantic comedy/ chick-lit