October 14, 2013

Bridget Jones is back, but without Mark Darcy

The diary-writing singleton returns in the third book of the popular series, and the author explains why she killed off Colin Firth's character.

By Jill Lawless
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Colin Firth portrayed Mark Darcy on the big screen.

2008 Associated Press File Photo

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British author Helen Fielding signs copies of her new book “Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy,” at a bookshop in central London.

The Associated Press

In “Mad About the Boy,” Bridget’s romantic misadventures are overshadowed by loss and the fear of aging – but a strong comic vein remains.

“I think most of the things I write are a mixture of dark and light,” Fielding said.

Life is “not all sailing along marvelously, nor is it ‘Oh, we’re in a well of despair.’ People hit tough times, and then their friends get round them and cheer them up and then they keep buggering on.”

As in the previous books, Bridget can lean on old friends Jude, Tom and Talitha, as well as disreputable former paramour Daniel Cleaver.

She navigates the treacherous world of online dating sites and Twitter, and acquires a 29-year-old boyfriend named Roxster.

The book also introduces Mr. Wallaker, a teacher at Bridget’s son’s school with whom she instantly clashes. But wait – is that a spark between them? (Hint: Fielding says her dream casting for a movie adaptation is Daniel Craig).

Bridget has always contained elements of Fielding, who is 55 and, like her character, lives in one of the nicer areas of North London with two young children. She is separated from their father, American comedy writer Kevin Curran.

There are glimpses of Bridget in the writer’s quick wit and sense of the absurd – though Fielding exudes a considerably greater sense of control than her hapless heroine.

“Mad About the Boy” suffered its own Bridget Jones-style mishap when 40 pages from another book, a memoir by actor David Jason, were inserted into the British edition by mistake.

And some of the reviews have been less than glowing: not everyone hails mishap-prone, insecure Bridget as a 21st-century heroine. Guardian newspaper columnist Suzanne Moore wrote a piece headlined “Why I Hate Bridget Jones,” condemning the character as “vapid, consumerist and self-obsessed” and the book as anti-feminist.

Fielding has heard that argument before.

She said that if women can’t make fun of themselves, “we haven’t got very far at being equal, have we?”

“And also, I think that is the way women communicate with each other, often, privately. They talk about their frailties, their mess-ups, their weaknesses, their vulnerabilities, and they are funny about it and they support each other.

“I was surprised with the first book, with the women who told me they identified with it – powerful, successful women, saying ‘Oh yes, I have that problem with tights being all tangled up.’ And it’s not just women, either. (Prime Minister) David Cameron was in the papers not so long ago ... and he said that he’d get in a situation when he’s got the kids in the back of the car and he gets a head of state on the phone: ‘Will you shut up, I’ve got the Israeli prime minister on the phone!’

“Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy” is published in the United States by Knopf on Tuesday.

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