Saturday, January 04, 2014

Mad about the Boy, Bridget Jones #3 (2013)

I finished Mad about the Boy a month or so ago, but I've been sick and haven't been up to writing very much.  After re-reading BJ 1 & 2, I was excited to get back into Bridget's universe, but, something about me is that I don't really like change that much, and Bridget had changed a LOT.

I'm going to talk about what may be considered a spoiler, although, several months after publication and the fact that the spoiler was basically on the cover of the New York Times, I'm not too bothered by it.  But, if you don't know ANYTHING about a certain Mr. Darcy and you DON'T WANT TO KNOW, you'd better hit the road...

So, as nearly everyone knows, Mark Darcy is DEAD at the beginning of the book.  Some jerks ran around posting it on every blog and online news headline in the world so it was nearly impossible not to know.  Especially if you're in my book club and I announced it in a drunken stupor.  If one had not heard the, yes, devastating news that Mr. Darcy had died, it would have been quite dramatic to read the first bit of the book because Fielding does do a great job of jumping right into Bridget's life with two kids and a boyfriend while only slowly allowing the reader to discover what happened to poor Mark.

The boyfriend is young - 30?  and she calls him Roxster, based on his twitter feed.  While she and Roxster are a good match, the age difference is difficult for both.  Bridget, 51, is nevertheless as immature as ever.  I admit I laughed for several days over a funny exchange between Bridget and Roxster wherein she texted, "Well, I'm just sending the most GIANT FART WITH EXTRA STINK right out of my bum" to him.

Mad About the Boy has lost quite a bit of edge with this (slightly) more grown-up Bridget.  Just as an example, aside from the constant reference to head lice, Bridget's new model of fashion is this Disney kid's tv show called Good Luck Charlie, which I only happen to know about because my 9 year old neighbor loves to watch it when she comes over.   It's a harmless, milquetoast program that the Bridget of old wouldn't have anywhere on her radar.  So, whatever - I mean, I'm the asshole that thinks I'm too cool for Good Luck Charlie and therefore Bridget Jones is less edgy.  For me, part of fun of those first books was relating to Bridget and I just have much less to relate her now.  But, that doesn't mean the book isn't funny and genuinely moving.

So... about those kids.  I think I would have liked Mad About the Boy if I had kids myself, but since I don't and because I loved singleton Bridget so much and also I think books with small children in them are generally like, beyond lame, I was a bit disappointed.  I suppose it wasn't as terrible as I had feared - where Fielding is more satirical than sentimental she excels.   Fantastically witty, Fielding finds great ways to satirize the state of parenthood today.  Says another mother at Bridget's child's school, "I used to be a CEO of a large chain of health and fitness clubs, which expanded throughout the UK and into North America. Now I am CEO of a family. My children are the most important, complex  and thrilling product I have ever deployed."  And just as Bridget's younger self was dogged by the idealization of the "perfect" couple, her status as a female, single parent is low in a world perceived to be filled with "complete" families.  Her own friends say things to her like, "'What I mean is that for a single man of Bridget's age, it's a total buyer's market. No one's knocking at Bridget's door, are they? If she was a middle-aged man, with her own house and income and two helpless children, she'd be inundated by people wanting to take care of her. But look at her.'"

One of my favorite aspects of the book was how Bridget responds to fashion.  Like myself, Bridget remembers the days when a completely black outfit was not just completely reasonable but quite chic.  Her response to skinny jeans, flowing scarves and oversized handbags is pretty hilarious.  "I now realize everyone has floating bohemian scarves double-looped round their neck.  Is odd, though, when remember all the years Mum and Una spent trying to 'get me into scarves' and I dismissed them as old-lady accessories rather like brooches."

Like the two first Bridget Jones novels, Bridget is unwittingly quite successful in her career.  In this third book she is "updating of the famous Norwegian tragedy Hedda Gabbler by Anton Chekhov" (purists will recognize a few gaffs in that sentence.) I love that Fielding continues to look back into literary history for strong female characters, spinning them into a hilarious, modern version.

A favorite line:
"It's always nice to meet someone more badly behaved than oneself."

Vocabulary Gems:
Brits call Boy Toys "Toy Boys"!

Berk: fool, prat, twit. "The usage is dated to the 1930s. A shortened version of Berkeley Hunt, the hunt based at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. In the Cockney rhyming slang, hunt is used as a rhyme for cunt giving the word berk its original slang meaning."  (via). Apparently not an offensive term despite it's origins.

Curiosity: Fielding thanks both Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in the acknowledgements but not Renée Zellweger.

No comments: