Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Mad About the Boy

Bridget's back! It's been well over a decade since we last read about Bridget Jones but Helen Fielding has brought back one of chick lit's favourite heroines in one of the most anticipated novels of the year. Mad About the Boy has been the topic of conversation for a lot of readers over the past few weeks due to the massive spoiler that was revealed in a British newspaper. I went back and forth about if I wanted to talk about said spoiler and I don't think I can get around writing a good review without it. So. If you don't want to know, don't read past the synopsis. Just know that Fielding has given readers the same Bridget we fell in love with all those years ago. She's older and has a whole new set of issues but she's the same person. The novel was funny, it was sad, it was pretty much exactly what I expected. And that was great.

Here's the synopsis:
With her hotly anticipated third installment, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Fielding introduces us to a whole new enticing phase of Bridget's life set in contemporary London, including the challenges of maintaining sex appeal as the years roll by and the nightmare of drunken texting, the skinny jean, the disastrous e-mail cc, total lack of Twitter followers, and TVs that need 90 buttons and three remotes to simply turn on.
An uproariously funny novel of modern life, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is a triumphant return of our favorite Everywoman.
For those of you who know about the spoiler (or just don't care), read on!

Ready? Let's tackle this elephant in the room. Learning that Mark Darcy was dead completely sucked. I was upset, like everyone else. I could, however, sort of understand where Fielding was coming from. There had to be some sort of conflict because reading a whole Happily Ever After novel can get a bit tedious. No one is perfect! I found myself wondering: did he really have to DIE??? The more I thought about it, the more I realized, yes, he did. Mark Darcy is one of the most beloved male leads in chick lit and to learn that he was no longer living hurt a lot of people. But would you have wanted him to be alive and no longer with Bridget? No. I also can't understand the readers who cancelled their preorders and/or said they refused to read the book. I think that was taking things a little too far. Don't judge before you have the full story. When the news was first released I wondered why the hell they were telling everyone. It took awhile for me to realize that they had to. This way they were able to control the spoiler's outbreak and explain it more. So, did knowing Mark Darcy was dead affect how I read the book? Absolutely. I had also reread the first two the weekend before reading the third book because I couldn't remember what happened. Rereading them, knowing that Mark was dead in "present" day, was hard. Reading Mad About the Boy was also hard. The grief Bridget feels is palpable and there were a few times my heart broke for her and I found myself tearing up. All that being said...I fear this has taken over too much of the discussion of this book so far (granted, it was only just released so a lot of people haven't read it yet) and I think the rest of the story is being lost in the grief and anger readers feel about Darcy's death. What do you think of the whole drama? 

My favourite part of the novel? I loved that Bridget was still Bridget. Her personality hasn't changed over the last few years. She's still funny, caring, and clumsy. Of course, a few things have changed. She now has Twitter (it was hilarious watching her figure that out), too many TV remotes, and two young children (who provide several funny and heartbreaking moments). She's still keeping track of things, though there are less cigarettes and more Nicorette, less alcohol units and more nits (the lice scenes were amusing!). This is an older, wiser, and more world weary Bridget but she's just as (if not more) lovable than we remember.

I do wonder what non-Bridget fans, especially, think of this book. Personally, if I had read the synopsis and didn't know this was a Bridget Jones book I probably wouldn't have picked it up. I don't often read about moms because that's just not what my life is like. I was able to get past the mommy (or should I say, mummy) issues I just don't relate to because I truly wanted to see what Bridget was like now.

The romances in the novel were easy to predict but that was OK. They were so real - funny, frustrating, sweet - and that made them so much better to read about. Nothing is perfect, especially not relationships, so it was great to see dates and encounters that were less than perfect. Besides, it wouldn't be Bridget if everything went swimmingly!

I would suggest you read Mad About the Boy in one sitting, if you can. Hunker down on a Saturday or Sunday with a blanket, some tea and snacks, and Helen Fielding's novel and read it from start to finish. I read most of it in one go and I really lost some momentum when I went back to finish the last third or so. I don't think you have to be a Bridget Jones fan to enjoy this one but I think it's best if you are. I wonder if people, myself included, are liking this novel purely for the nostalgia factor. Whatever the reason, I found Mad About the Boy to be an enjoyable read. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll get exactly what you came for.

Happy reading :)

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