I love the Bridget Jones series. I have a fondess for British humour and I love epistolary fiction so it was inevitable. You wouldn’t think with my pretentious rants about literature and non-fiction that I’d be into this kind of thing, yet here we are.
And I’ve been tossing and turning over the best ways to write this review without spoiling it, but there’s one big reveal that happens early on which forms the whole crux of the story. So spoiler warning ahead.
Here it is: although Bridget Jones had her happily ever after with Mark Darcy and popped out two of his children, we start the story by learning that Mark Darcy has been killed off.
Which is pretty convenient for readers for several reasons. Bridget Jones can now be thrust back into the dating life but now she balances motherhood, being a widower and technological advances. It’s all a ploy to capitalize off of the Bridget Jones series since the original readers of Bridget Jones are no longer in their thirties but in their fifties and possibly sixties.
But Bridget to her fans will always be someone who is struggling with her weight, career and relationship prospects; a Bridget that navigates the ups and downs of marriage without some kind of break up is not the Bridget we know and to go through the whole ‘will she still end up with Darcy’ is too tedious an exercise after all this time (like the Ross and Rachel saga). So it was inevitable she would be thrown back into the dating world again not via another breakup with Darcy.
I thought the plot structure was a bit weaker than ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’. There were some subplots that weren’t filled out in a sufficient manner so that when it was resolved, I didn’t get the same satisfaction for Bridget as I should have, for example, Bridget’s testy relationship with Perfect Mother, Nicolette.
I also kind of skimmed over the subplot involving Roxster. One of the real drawing points of Bridget Jones is her ability to relate to the modern female so her younger Singleton days appealed to me immensely, but her venture into being a Cougar wasn’t as interesting to me.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still just as funny and witty. Fielding is such a hilarious and honest writer and I love that sort of dry British humor so it’s right up my alley. And Fielding does what she does best in this book, which is make insightful observations about the people around her. I love any writer who appreciates the idiosyncrasies of people around them and Fielding is one of them.
I loved watching Bridget navigate teacher’s conferences and parenting her children. I loved watching her try to get back into the dating field. Some of the old gang from Bridget’s heyday makes an appearance too and I loved watching their fire-forged friendships. There’s Tom, Jude and Magda. Shazzer has disappeared which just goes to show you that not all friendships will follow you for life as everyone has their own path to pursue. Daniel Cleaver still makes a show and as much of an asshole he is, he’s still one of the funniest characters in the book (but only in small doses).
I laughed out loud when one of Bridget’s goals was to stop doing “V-signs at people during the school run” (apparently the V-sign is the British equivalent of giving people the finger. On a side note, one of the English managers does this at work because he thinks people don’t know what he’s doing (we do) and he can vent off a bit of frustration at the same time).
And there are some very heart-wrenching moments when Bridget reminisces on the times she had with Mark Darcy and what she dreams their life would be had it not been for his sudden death. I thought her grief was handled realistically and with respect.
Whatever its weaknesses and strengths, this installment still captures the element that made Fielding so successful as a writer: the sharp social insights of being a modern woman, written in a hilariously self-deprecating fashion that only the English can do. If Jane Austen had to write something in modern times, she’d spit something out like this too.