I’ve never been particularly touched by Bridget Jones and her adventures. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a laugh at her disastrous wine-induced decisions and thought ‘thank fuck that’s not me’ more times than I can count, but she never spoke to me like Carrie and the girls (or Sally Jay Gorce for that matter). I just never got it, you know? That feeling of mild, detached amusement continued with this belated latest instalment. Detached amusement and mild boredom.
Bridget is 51, and a widow. Yes, a widow. I realise this fact led to much howling and gnashing of teeth amongst fans, but I never gave a crap about Mark Darcy (he’s in the same ‘get me away from this chump’ bracket as Aidan in SATC) so I didn’t care that he’d been killed off. She’s also a mum of two small children (smaller than you’d expect given her age), and has been celibate since Darcy’s death four years before. The book is basically about her finding love again, while struggling with her weight and not knowing what to wear. Along the way she also writes a screenplay and makes friends with the boho woman across the road, and there’s a sub-plot about head lice isn’t as funny as Fielding seems to think it is.
Fielding has never been Le Carré or Dickens, but the combination of diary entry, text and exposition disguised as diary entry is a muddle that wasn’t helped by the audiobook format. Samantha Bond is of course a consummate pro, but I couldn’t help but cringe at some of the words she had to read. The plot was excruciatingly smug, twee and predictable, without any of the charm of its predecessors. And herein lay the book’s biggest problem. While Bridget, with her affluent middle-class problems, was never an every-woman, she was always funny, sympathetic and REAL. While we might not shag our bosses and get jobs as TV reporters, we’ve all drunk too much wine, begrudged our married friends their ‘happiness’ and had to rely on control pants more than we’d like to admit. This skinny, toy-boy shagging, well-enough-off-that-she-doesn’t-have-to-work Bridget, doesn’t seem to have any grounding in reality, and so had even less to say to me than usual.