Did you know there's going to be a new Bridget Jones book by author Helen Fielding? Of course you did, because I covered this back in May and you devotedly read every single crappy article I write. Don't you? ... No? FINE. Just don't come crying to ME when you belatedly hear about how there's a third installment in a chick-lit book series that was a bestseller in the mid-'90s and you could have been on top of this news MONTHS AGO.
Anyway, about that new book -- it's called Mad About the Boy, and in it, Bridget is a 51-year-old single mom of two. She's dating a much-younger man, and instead of her weight, she's tracking texts and minutes spent obsessing over him.
Oh, and (SPOILER ALERT!) Mark Darcy is dead. Nothing says "beach read" like being a widow, right?
Not that Mad About the Boy can't tackle a subject more serious than alcohol units consumed and the emotional fuckwittage of men. But do we really WANT it to? God knows I've gotten older since I first read The Diary of Bridget Jones, but I'm not sure I want to read about a middle-aged Bridget lusting after a 29-year-old named -- I swear I am not making this up -- Roxter.
The new book is set 15 years after the last novel in the series, during which time Bridget married Mark Darcy and they had two children named Billy and Mabel. We also know that Darcy died five years previously, thanks to excerpts of Mad About the Boy that Fielding had published in the Sunday Times Magazine.
As for why she chose to reveal this particular shocker ahead of time, I'm guessing it may have had something to do with the legions of Bridget Jones followers who have taken to the web to express their grief about Darcy's passing. Fans aren't remotely happy about the news, but all this outrage is translating into a huge amount of free publicity for the book, which hits shelves on October 10.
I guess the truth is, Helen Fielding couldn't win no matter what she did. In revisiting Bridget Jones all these years later, we probably would have found it tiresome if the character hadn't aged or changed her circumstances. But is it preferable that Jones is now a 50-something cougar who meets her 20-years-younger boyfriend on Twitter? Is it going to be charming to read about Jones' superficial self-doubting blunders now that she's a widow and a mother of two?
It's hard to imagine how Mad About the Boy will tackle grief and single parenthood while still mining dating, social media, and the trials of aging (oh the wrinkles! The chin whiskers! The cellulite!) for humor. But I suspect the buzz and confusion is exactly what Fielding, or her publishing company, was hoping for. The question is, will it translate into book sales, or will fans be too turned off to check back in with their bumbling heroine?
What's your reaction to hearing that Mark Darcy's been killed off? Does it affect how you feel about this third Bridget Jones book?
Image via Miramax