I finally got a chance to finish the latest installment of Bridget Jones. I’ve read a lot of other reviews and I went in preparing to loathe it. I didn’t. I honestly didn’t. Well, once I made it past the prologue section.
The majority of the reviews I have read are angry that Fielding has killed off Mark Darcy and Bridget is still doing the same dumb shit as she was in her 30s. WHOOOPS SPOILER ALERT! But it’s on the back of the book so it’s not really such a shocker.
Let’s rehash old Bridget for a minute, shall we? We first met her in her 30s, a drunken slob of a woman with perennial foot in mouth disease, in love with a dickhead and desperate for a permanent attachment to validate her sense of self worth. Her single friends spurred on her insanity, her married ones made her feel like she was destined to die alone and unloved, doomed to be found half eaten by alsations. Yes, she was all of us. She was definitely me. She eventually stopped fucking up long enough to find herself in love with Mark who liked her just the way she was. Who doesn’t want that? It was, and I suspect still is, every woman’s dream to find a guy who likes her despite her faults.
This Bridget is 51 and widowed with two children. A huge departure from where we left off in the second installment. If you can make it through the prologue and try and swallow your thinly veiled “WTF” while reading about Bridget humping on the apallingly named Roxster who is 30 it is worth it. The scenes where she reminisces on her life with Mark are easily the most honest and real part of the book, that and when she thinks what a shit mum she is and how she has no idea how to even approach sex and dating again. Despite the critics who rant and rave that Bridget still needs a man and blah blah blah no sense of self worth, still! I found the total opposite. It is in fact her friends who, four years after Mark’s untimely death, drag her kicking and screaming back into the dating scene again. The single friends cry, “You need to get laid!” while the smug marrieds crow about how difficult she’ll find it to ever find someone now that she’s past her prime with kids. It is they that plant the seeds of self doubt and loathing into her mind, not Bridget. Not the girl who cries in protest that to have sex with someone else would be unfair to her long dead husband. Not the girl who declares no amount of self hatred would ever swing her back to Daniel Cleaver’s bed. (Oh my, Daniel Cleaver. He’s a pathetic addict who still tries to sleep with everyone. It’s a pretty realistic extrapolation of his character, I loved it).
Bridget has an obsessive personality. Most people do. It’s why fandoms exist and why this whole outrage exists. But I refute the fact that she learned nothing. In her relationship with the Roxster (ugh that name, but I guess its supposed to point out the age divide), she is far more assured of herself, far more confident, flirtatious and courageous than the 30 year old Bridget ever was. Since she has that obsessive personality, that opens the door to her inner worrying and offbeat self dialogue about whether she is a) doing the right thing, b) in love with the guy, c) following the correct SMS/Twitter social etiquette rules, d) ageing appropriately or e) a delusional fartass old bag, all of which is only exacerbated by her meddlesome friends and some comments about women of her “age”. I didn’t really see any of this as her being ‘the same’ as 30s Bridget. Yes, the neuroticism is still there, but there are different issues, even though a man is still central. Their relationship actually comes to a really lovely conclusion as Bridget realises that it won’t work in the long term and she calls it off. That is definitely not the old Bridget.
The book does conclude with seeing her settled into a relationship. I don’t think the relationship was as fully realised in the book as it could be, although I could see the seeds being planted. I like that Bridget decided she liked said man, but then did not do stupid dumb shit to attract his attention. Thinking she’s missed the boat, she does the adult thing and takes a step back, secretly pining from afar.
It’s not as humourous as its predecessors, but it’s warm and awkward and painful in the right places to make it a pretty decent read (if you can make sense of the Twitter sections).
To be perfectly honest I think it resonated more with me because in a way I still am Bridget Jones. I grew up and got married and had kids and all that too. I have no clue about nit infestation etiquette and I would be hopelessly lost should I suddenly find myself widowed with the prospect of dating again. The part that cemented it for me was when Bridget watched her neighbour trash her kid’s xbox telling him what a shithead he was for being a hopeless slave to technology and she thinks, I have to be friends with that woman. Because I would have thought the same thing.