Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

Bridget Jones—one of the most beloved characters in modern literature (v.g.)—is back! In Helen Fielding's wildly funny, hotly anticipated new novel, Bridget faces a few rather pressing questions:
  • What do you do when your girlfriend’s sixtieth birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend’s thirtieth?
  • Is it better to die of Botox or die of loneliness because you’re so wrinkly?
  • Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating?
  • Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice?
  • Is it normal to be too vain to put on your reading glasses when checking your toy boy for head lice?
  • Does the Dalai Lama actually tweet or is it his assistant?
  • Is it normal to get fewer followers the more you tweet?
  • Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood?
  • If you put lip plumper on your hands do you get plump hands?
  • Is sleeping with someone after two dates and six weeks of texting the same as getting married after two meetings and six months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day?
Pondering these and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of loss, single motherhood, tweeting, texting, technology, and rediscovering her sexuality in—Warning! Bad, outdated phrase approaching!—middle age. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Becky Gulc:

I was beyond excited to receive the latest novel by Helen Fielding about the much loved Bridget Jones for review. I remember picking up my mum’s copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary during one of the long summers when as a student I did very little, so I didn’t need much of an excuse to sit in the garden and devour this book which I did I think in one afternoon. I loved it. I loved Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, loved the films and I have done my own little tours of the locations used for filming in London several times and not that long ago with the film’s soundtrack going round my head. Bridget never really went away for me, I’ve watched the films so many times. So as a big fan who noticed mixed reviews, what did I make of this latest installment?

Firstly, well it was impossible with all the hype to avoid finding out that (SPOILER ALERT!) Mark Darcy had died before I started reading this, so that wasn’t a surprise. I initially felt this was a bad move but as I started to read the book I almost couldn’t imagine a Bridget novel where everything was hunky dory at home so actually this made sense and the grief around this loss is apparent throughout so Mark’s certainly still present in many respects.

I loved this novel, I loved Bridget’s company once again and could just see Bridget being a fantastic mum and slowly dipping her toes into the world of modern-day dating and modern-day technology. I found it to be very true to the first two novels in terms of style (which I was happy about) and true to Bridget’s character we grew to love. Many names will ring a bell in this novel, even Daniel Cleaver features and I didn’t see that coming or necessarily ‘get’ his reasons for still being in contact with Bridget but I soon changed my mind and it all started to make sense, and to be honest, I would have felt robbed if he wasn’t in it!

The novel is VERY funny in places especially around the things that can happen when you start delving into the world of online dating, Bridget becoming annoyed when some dresses she’s buying online don’t ‘wink’ back at her was just one example that had me laughing out loud. It’s also very moving throughout, I loved the relationship she has with her children. Without wanting to give anything away I also liked the fact that as a reader I felt comfortable Bridget was looking after herself in this novel, maybe she did learn her lesson with Daniel all those years ago and can now spot a wrong ‘un? Yet nothing runs smoothly still and it was an enjoyable adventure to go on to see where Bridget ends up...can she find love again after the Mark Darcy? If you want to find out, I really recommend this book, she’s older, wiser, but still the same slightly ditzy Bridget we all love. Hope to see this one as a film too.

Thanks to Random House UK for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Melissa Amster:

Just as Becky did, I also found out the spoiler before the book was even in my hands. Given how many books I've read these past few years (and still continue to read) on the topic, it didn't keep me from checking out Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. Maybe P.S. I Love You, Good Grief and all the others with this theme were preparation for what was to come. And you know what? It didn't keep me from liking, no, LOVING this novel! It was like revisiting Bridget when she was a 30-something singleton with short skirts and bad habits. Bridget hasn't changed much, except she's about 15 years older...and a mother of young children. (I could definitely relate on both matters.) And she's learning to navigate the choppy waters of social media a.k.a. Twitter. I still find Twitter confusing, so I'm proud of her for braving it!

Like the diary that started it all, this novel was also laugh-out-loud hilarious and even snarky at times. It was a very sweet story, as well. I liked that Bridget was flawed. She really was a complete mess at times. It makes me feel better when there are days I just can't get it together. Bridget is just so human that you forget you're reading a book sometimes. I also kept forgetting she was in her early 50s. She still had the personality of a woman in her mid-30s. Not that I can really judge age, but she reminded me so much of myself at my current age. So either I've matured or she hasn't. You decide!

The only thing that didn't work so well for me was that it was in diary format at all. My biggest pet peeve is dialogue in diaries. This didn't just have dialogue, but also physical actions. It's a diary! Don't talk about how you're cooking spaghetti as you're writing or that you've just fallen down on a patch of ice. Diaries are meant to be reflective. Unless Bridget was carrying her diary everywhere she went at all times of the day, this just didn't make sense. (If it was inside an electronic device, that may have worked, but she didn't have much of a grasp on technology to begin with.) It would have been preferable if action and dialogue carried the story along and the diary was something she wrote in at the end of the day to get something off her chest.

All diary issues aside, I will reiterate once again that I LOVED this novel and even rushed out to buy a copy for my BFF. During the time I was reading it, I was also having marathons of The Mindy Project. I could see Mindy and Bridget getting along well with their flaws, anxieties, dating issues, humor, and lots of pop culture references. It was very entertaining and I'm sad that it had to end at all. It wrapped up a bit neatly, but that's what I wanted for Bridget anyway. And there are still a lot of fun surprises to keep you on your toes. While I'm sure I'd enjoy this as a movie, I don't know that I'd want to hear Renee Zellweger let one rip, so to speak.

Thanks to Knopf  for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Tina said...

It sounds like we were not reading the same book because I absolutely despised it.

Its rare that I hate a book this much, but this one goes right up there unfortunately.

I am a huge fan of Bridget and loved the first two books (and movies) but thought that the author completely missed the boat on this one.

Instead of making Bridget more mature (she can still be hilarious ), I felt as though I was reading the sad, sad story of a woman in her fifties who refuses to grow up.


mpartyka said...

I am happy to read your post and know some people enjoyed this book. I wanted to, so much, but stopped reading it. It's my first DNF for 2014.

I was simply bored with all the details and didn't find her search for love to be realistic.