Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy
by Helen Fielding
Random House Audio, 2013
Read by Samantha Bond
She’s back! It’s Bridget Jones, “Jonesey” to her lovers, and she’s still weighing her body, counting her calories, and having way too many “alcohol units.”
Then again, years have passed. Mrs. Bridget Darcy is 51 and has two small children, Billy and Mabel. And where is Mark? He’s not there, but a simple Google search, I am sure, will spoil this for you.
The other mothers at the school appear to judge her every morning for her tardiness and chaotic arrivals, especially the head mother, Nicorette (oops, Nicolette). Even Billy’s instructor Mr. Wallaker, who oversees the children as the are picked up and dropped off, greets Bridget with his scolding face and demands for more discipline. She’s also trying to sell a script for a movie, an updated version of Hedda Gabbler (one she hasn’t researched very well).
Bridget’s also journeying into technology: Twitter (and how does one get followers? aren’t people simply supposed to love/adore/flock to you? can Twitter followers tell if one is getting fat?), texting (instead of waiting for phone calls from men), Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, e-mail, MarriedAffair.co.uk, Xbox, iPads, iPods, Plants vs. Zombies, etc., etc., etc. The book is written in a style that matches the technology. For instance, if you’re reading Tweets, the page shows @JoneseyBJ. Of course, with the audiobook, you’ll hear Samantha Bond read “atJoneseyBJ” each time. This can get a bit overwhelming when there is a series of Tweets. However, Samantha Bond is a great voice actress, one who puts a lot of emotion into the characters. Bridget having sex with her 30-year-old “boy toy” comes to life thanks to Bond. On the page, sexy time is simply “Mmmm.” With Bond, you might just feel a bit saucy yourself. On top of that, I realized I started thinking in Bond’s voice for quite a while after listening to all 10 discs in my car. What fun! *Note to self: don’t speak faux British aloud.
There are three men who stand out in the novel: Leatherjacketman, Roxster, and Mr. Wallacker. Each represents a different kind of man: the one whose name we can easily forget (though don’t sell him short!), the one who is flirty and 29 (soon to be 30!), and the one who scolds Bridget and constantly asks her if she’s “OK.” In the previous two novels, Bridget probably would have killed for a man to show concern about her situation; she was a terribly desperate woman who also tried to make her way in the world and be honest with herself (even if she couldn’t always be honest with others).
In Mad About the Boy, I was pleased to see a stronger Bridget. She loves her kids more than any of her own needs, and it shows. This creates sympathy for her character, one we may not have had in the previous novels. She also responds strongly to one of Mr. Wallaker’s “Are you OK”s: Bridget let’s Mr. Wallaker know that just because she is a single mother does not mean she needs to be singled out as a failure, or looking like a failure, and that she does not need his help or pity. This stronger Bridget appears more in this third installation, whereas she mostly only peaked out while drunk in books one and two.
The woman are different, too. Jude, I must say, is the same weak-willed pushover she was inDiary and Edge of Reason, so that was disappointing. Shazzer now lives in the U.S., so that, too, is disappointing. However, a new character, the 60-year-old Talitha is a fantastic addition. She paves the way for younger women (meaning Bridget, who is 51) by explaining that she is still a sexual being, a sexy woman, and how to date younger men to fulfill her wants/needs. Then again, she’s awfully fake, too: Botox, hair extensions, a thin waist–all things she refers to as “altering the signposts” in order to fight against middle age. She does stand out as a guide for Bridget, whereas previously Bridget’s friends had 3 different opinions from 3 personalities.
Overall, I wasn’t sure until 2/3 through if Bridget needed a man who would replace Mark Darcy, or if she would simply shag herself happy and be a single mom. Fielding misleads you a bit in that way, which is horribly fun to listen to (if you can get over all the adverbs, though I love when Talitha “growls dramatically”). It’s not an intellectual novel (nor did I expect it to be), but it was a fun one for right before the holiday season (and at the end of the semester), when there can be little to laugh about as people “flat tire” you with their shopping carts to get the last Doc McStuffin doll on the shelf.