Last Sunday, I was feeling pretty relaxed. I had spent a few hours playing GTA V and it’s a good way to unwind. Anyway, a few stolen cars later, I decided to check the Sunday papers – little knowing what was in store for me. And there it was, Helen Fielding had given The Sunday Times an exclusive extract of the new Bridget Jones book: Mad About The Boy.
I discovered that mark Darcy was dead and that Bridget was a widow. That she has two kids. That she is still obsessed with her weight, her wrinkles and, (this one is new) her Twitter followers. Bridget is also dating an Ashton Kutcher type, 20 years her junior. Shock, stupefaction, sadness. Those are the three phases I went through, alone with my newspaper and my MacBook.
Mark Darcy is dead. Mark, who liked Bridget just as she was.
I wasn’t the only one to be shocked by this news. Twitter and the web were awash with grieving women – although a lot of them were also incredibly angry. Some of these angry (crazy) ladies even told the world that they would boycott the book in response to the despair brought into their lives by the sad demise of Mark. I guess that if you’re going to overreact, you might as well do it properly.
The exaggerated, over the top reactions proved one thing though. Bridget is the heroine of a generation and we really care what happens to her.
We have all identified with Bridget, at least once. She is a tiny bit over-weight (or at least she thinks she is), not a classic beauty, totally neurotic and clumsy – she is all of us.
Bridget was a precursory character, in the book in 1996 and 2001 in the cinema. She was our singleton before Sex And The City.
In the books, and films, Bridget was confronting very real dilemmas, ie.The narcissistic and perverse (and oh so sexy) Daniel Cleaver and the nice but less sexy (and fucking remote) Mark Darcy.
Essentially, Helen fielding brought back the basic plot of chick lit but she did it in a modern and intelligent way. It was difficult not to like Bridget: this lost girl who smoke and drank too much and was inherently one of us.
At the end of the first book/movie, when Mark asked her to marry him – we all thought, because we identified, that we would get our happy ending too.
Except Bridget didn’t get the happy ending after all. Mark is dead.
But, you know? Now I’ve had time to get used to the idea – and some women would no doubt stone me for saying this – I quite like that Mark is out of the picture. Now don’t get angry and bear with me; the whole point of Bridget was to watch her trying (and failing) to handle her love life. If she was still married to Mark, where would the story be now? I’m pretty sure there would have been comic potential in seeing Bridget dealing with a husband and kids but…..it could too easily have been boring. The next book, without Mark, is going to be all about the essence of Bridget – and that is being single – and trying to find love.
And really, thinking about it, wasn’t Mark Darcy really dull? Yes, he was dependable and reliable, etc…but emotionally retarded too. Watching the man try to articulate his feelings was actually painful. Let’s be honest, if he hadn’t been so emotionally stunted – he would have got with Bridget early on – instead of watching with a stricken look from the sides every time Daniel Cleaver grabbed her arse. Mark my words, this marriage would have ended in a painful divorce if death hadn’t played a hand in this plot. To be totally honest, the only reason I liked/accepted Mark was because he liked Bridget – just as she was – and because of that ridiculous fight with Daniel Cleaver.
Some people have advanced the opinion that this next book is going to be a caricature of a woman, that not all 51 year olds are obsessed with Twitter, that they don’t all date toy boys. Well, obviously they don’t all do. But I personally think Helen Fielding has her finger on the pulse as she always had before. More and more women are choosing to date younger men and it is becoming (slightly) more acceptable. After all, if it wasn’t happening, the term “Cougar” wouldn’t have come into being. As for Twitter, anyone who’s anyone has an account these days.
Critics say that a woman who has two kids and just lost her husband wouldn’t bother with the toy boy or social networks but that’s just nit picking. Bridget was always a frothy character, why couldn’t she have retained that? More to the point, if she hadn’t retained it, we would have lost our Bridget.
No, let the hopeless romantics wail and make their threats. They can go and buy some idiotic chick lit and read a story that ends perfectly well for everyone concerned. Because we all know that real life is like that! Personally, I’d rather read something more realistic and intelligent, so I’m looking forward to Mad About the Boy – so shoot me.