Bridget Jones author Helen Fielding set Bridget Jones fans’ heads spinning in horror yesterday as they opened up their morning copy of the Sunday Times in anticipation, to read brand new extracts from Fielding’s second sequel to the Bridget Jones series, Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy. Coffee cups were sent flying and mortified shrieks turned milk sour when fans discovered that Bridget Jones’ love interest, Mr Mark Darcy was dead, Bridget was now a 51-year old, calorie-counting widowed mother of two and she visited cougar town with a 30-year old toy boy.
Whatever possessed Ms Fielding to render her heroine’s fans traumatised is anybody’s guess, but perhaps this was the only way to prepare them for the shock they were about to receive, on the latest from a series of novels that was originally borne out of a newspaper column 20 years ago.
It is hard to believe, but it has already been one and a half decades since the release of the previous novel, The Edge of Reason and that Fielding’s debut novel, Bridget Jones’s Diary was released three years prior. So it stands to reason that out of the Jones-Darcy wedding union, children would naturally follow, in the form of two wilful, nit-ridden little Darcys, Billy and Mabel.
Of course, love-rat and former boss, Daniel Cleaver is still in the picture, although he has assumed the role of “naughty godfather” to Bridget and Mark’s children, as well as offering his babysitting duties and unsuitable carnal advances towards their mother.
As Jones is still battling with her daily calorie counts, she reveals in her diary entries that she has been in contact with a younger man named Roxter, whom she met on a lonely-hearts section of the Internet. She is also writing her first movie script – a modern version from a classic Checkov play, but set instead in middle-class Queen’s Park, in leafy north west London.
Now aged 51, “35, if anyone asks,” Bridget Jones, wanton cougar, calorie counter and widowed mother of two, is doing the school run with her kids in tow, while having to put up with dominant, pushy mothers at the school gate. It seems that not much has changed in that department in real life. There is little doubt that we shall probably be seeing a few ‘Yummy Mummies’ thrown into the mix in the film adaptation.
Bridget Jones was hailed as a modern-day heroine since she was brought out in novel format and later adapted into two blockbuster films, the first, Bridget Jones’s Diary, which had a more favourable reception than The Edge of Reason. Women have found her more identifiable as a character in her thirties back then and readers even voted Fielding’s first novel as one of 10 that were definitive of the 20th century. Others in that list included The Diary of Anne Frank and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. There will be, no doubt, plenty of mothers and fans of Bridget Jones who have grown with her and now find themselves in and around the same age bracket, dealing with similar issues, which could still make the novel successful, although the film adaptation could be a completely different story.
The original story, which was roughly constructed around Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and focuses on the love triangle between Jones, her love interest, lawyer, Mark Darcy and his rival, Jones’s boss Daniel Cleaver. Similarly, Austen’s novel revolves around heroine Elizabeth Bennet, the focus of her attention, Mr. Darcy and Darcy’s rival and Bennet’s acquaintance, Mr. Wickham. The story resonates with women the world over and has continued to do so for generations, making the modern day version so popular.
It has often been said that writers write what they know and one cannot help but wonder if there are aspects of Fielding’s novel that are autobiographical. Fielding, 55, is herself is a divorced mother of two, lending herself perhaps to some of Jones’s experiences in a similar predicament, although she denies this.
Fielding has moved Jones along to keep up with the times. She now corresponds via social network and this is where she is said to have met Roxter, on Twitter. Fans have also taken to tweeting themselves, about their shock and horror at Fielding’s choices in the new twist to her storyline.
Helen Fielding will be giving a talk about her wanton cougar, calorie counter and widowed mother of two, next month at the big Literature Festival in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in the UK. The novel, Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy will be available for purchase on October 10, 2013.
Written by: Brucella Newman