[Published 2013 by Knopf]
“I often find that the anti-hero makes a more lasting impression on me.” This was my answer to a question during a book moderation many years ago and crossed my mind a few times during my reading of ‘Mad About the Boy’.
I am a true Bridget Jones fans. I love the books and the movies for different reasons and I hail Helen Fielding as a comic master for writing books that actually make me laugh out loud (something very few novelists have ever achieved). In the wake of the latest instalment’s release, I was shocked to read a number of damning articles about Bridget Jones culture and what it means for women.
‘Mad About the Boy’ is Bridget’s diaries now that she is a mother and a widow. Helen Fielding’s latest work retains the same unique humour as her previous books. This is put into the context of the present day – what it means to be thrust into the dating world again, grappling with social media, and the trials of modern motherhood.
What the critics don’t seem to understand is that very few women will aspire to be Bridget Jones. I can’t imagine people picking up the book looking for a hero. She is an exaggerated symbol of feminine characteristics gone awry. I don’t think many women read the books as an act of feminism or hoping to find inspiration to solve the world’s problems. Don’t get me wrong – I hope that the very same women who read this book will afford an equal amount of time to reading something that will inspire them to better their lives and their standing in the world; for themselves and those around them, but I do not believe that the enjoyment of Bridget Jones and the drive to be a good 21st century women are mutually exclusive.
‘Mad About the Boy’ is a reminder that Helen Fielding is a master of her craft. Bridget’s attempts at Twitter, dating a younger man, dealing with being a single parent are all relevant to the present day. The internet and modern media both have a role to play in daily living and this book aptly portrays this. Bridget Jones has evolved. The recognition of this is shocking, funny, and incredibly clever at the same time.
If you are one of those people looking to take something away from your reading of ‘Mad About the Boy,’ consider Bridget Jones the anti-hero. For many, she may be the antithesis of the women’s rights movement, banal, and just a bit silly but she has always been a symbol of what not to be. For its unmatched entertainment value, it is one of the best forms of escape.