Why Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is 'v. disappointing'
Helen Fielding's heroine is 51 and trying to find love online. It should be hilarious, but isn't
BRIDGET JONES used to be immensely good fun in her rather tipsy, somewhat ditzy way. But the re-emergence of the ultimate London 'singleton' as a middle-aged widow with two kids hasn't pleased the critics.
"The tone is all wrong," writes the Daily Telegraph's Sarah Crompton in her review of Helen Fielding's /Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy/. "Reading the first two thirds... is like listening to someone who once had perfect pitch, but now can't sing a note."
Describing the book as a "clunking disappointment", Crompton says every line feels "full of effort".
In the book – the first Bridget Jones instalment since 1999's Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Fielding's heroine is 51. The death of her husband, Mark Darcy, has left her widowed but well-off. She describes herself as a screenwriter, but her children, Billy and Mabel, take up most of her time.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Christina Patterson says that the idea of the inept diarist looking for middle-aged love ought to be funny. After all, "the rituals of sex have changed" in the 14 years since the last Bridget Jones book, thanks to the advent of texting, social media and dating websites.
"This is a rich seam for satire, or it ought to be," writes Patterson. "The trouble is, in this book, it isn't."
Bridget seems to be the only woman in the world who thinks "the best way to bag a man you hardly know is to text him when you're drunk", writes Patterson. She asks people in person if they'll follow her on Twitter and seems amazed that not everyone gets the spelling right when they're searching on Google.
For The Guardian's Justine Jordan Mad About the Boy faces several problems. Firstly, the "anxiety of the urban singleton" has become an overly familiar topic since Fielding first introduced Bridget in a column in The Independent in 1995. Secondly, there's "a new sentimentality, even slushiness" in the way the author describes subjects such as love, sex and loneliness. Combined with the rather posh nature of Bridget's post-Darcy life, the result is "less like a satire on modern life and more like a good old Jilly Cooper [novel]".
Back in the Telegraph, Crompton says things pick up a bit in the latter stages of the 387-page book, but the impression of a missed opportunity is hard to dispell. "V. disappointing," as Bridget herself might say.
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is published on Thursday. ·