Bridget Jones cannot exist without Mark Darcy. Period. Without him, there is no point. Wasn’t the entire plot of the first two novels focused around winning the undying love of one Mark Darcy? That worked! I remember getting anxiety over whether or not Bridget would end up with Mark, which reflects on Helen Fielding’s ability to convey genuine emotion. However, in removing the central plot element of all Bridget Jones novels, Fielding has effectively destroyed her franchise.
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy picks up five years after the tragic death of Mark Darcy. Bridget has spent the last four years trying her best to raise her two young children and to cope with the loss of her husband. Apparently, Mark was financially savvy, as it appears that Bridget will never have to work again. Her friends try to drag her out of her funk and encourage her to start dating again, so she does. She joins Twitter, dates younger men, eats too much, drinks too much, diets, and grieves for Mark. Oh, and Daniel Cleaver is back. He is the children’s godfather. This concept still makes no sense to me.
She essentially does the same sorts of things that were so entertaining in the prior novels, except that they are not nearly as entertaining now. Bridget yo-yo dieting and counting calories is stale; I could just reread the original if I wanted seemingly verbatim excerpts of its content. Moreover, Bridget’s obsession with toy-boy Roxster is not funny, but instead rather sad. She neglects her screenplay and her children, letting a single text from this guy make or break her day. This behavior was expected in a younger Bridget, but from 53-year-old Bridget? Fielding seems to be going for hilarious, but instead it is just pathetic.
Not surprisingly, the best parts of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy are those in which she reflects upon her life with Mark. Fielding’s writing is raw, heartbreaking, and real at the times in which Bridget is grieving, which is more than can be said about the rest of the novel.
I get what Fielding was going for – she was attempting to show Bridget Jones finding herself again after Mark. Perhaps Fielding was also asking herself how Bridget could exist without Mark Darcy. The problem is, she only proved that she can’t.