Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy," by Helen Fielding

I have written about the problem of critics’ and some male authors’ using the term “chick lit” or similar terms about almost any novel written by a woman that deals with relationships, love, and family. But that is not my focus today. I have also written about the positive side of “chick lit” -- the pleasures of frankly chick-lit-oriented novels -- and how I occasionally indulge in such novels. I have just read the third novel in the British writer Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones series: “Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy” (Knopf, 2013). The two earlier ones (and the two movies based on them) were great fun to read (and see), and captured a certain time and atmosphere in many women’s lives with flair, humor, and sympathy. I, probably like other readers, wondered how a third book, telling of Bridget’s life at age 51, would be…I couldn’t quite imagine it. And it was a shock to learn (very early on, and in all the reviews, so this is not a spoiler) that she was now a widow. Yet I soon got caught up in the book and enjoyed it. Bridget’s distinctive voice is still the same, but of course a little older and (well, somewhat) wiser, and tempered by her grief and her trying to find a way to live and be happy again after the loss of her dear Darcy. She struggles, moves forward a bit, then relapses, then tries again. She continues to document her weight gain and loss and the amount she drinks, but in this new book now also documents her texts and her experiments with the new medium of Twitter. And of course meeting men and dating is, again, a focus. But now she is 51, has two children, and finds the world of dating has changed. Suffice it to say that she has adventures that are both hilarious and touching, learns a lot, and realizes that, five years after Darcy’s death, she should, can, and will have a happy life.

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