Sunday, January 26, 2014

Not so mad about “Mad about the Boy”

On Friday I got my hands on the new Bridget Jones – Mad about the Boy. I didn’t fork out £18.99 for it – and wouldn’t -  but a kind friend lent it me.

What a disappointment.

I loved the first Bridget Jones (the book) in 1996, and I was so looking forward to reading this one. So why didn’t I enjoy it?


Unlike some BJ fans, I have no argument with Helen Fielding killing off Mark Darcy – after all, Jane and I knew we had to get rid of Gus, if we wanted Sally to have a chance at a real romance.

The problem lay elsewhere. When BJ first appeared in 1996, she was a thirty-something, and I was a forty-something living in a different world, and yet I identified with her. She was a sympathetic realistic heroine and I raced through the book over a weekend after I’d wrestled the book out of Zoe’s hands (who was a twenty something living in a media world in London, just like BJ.)  The age difference and the world difference did not matter because the book was fresh and funny, and I could identify with the heroine (which is not always important, but I think it is with this kind of fiction.)

Now BJ is 51, almost the same age as Sally Howe, when she first burst upon the world in Plotting for Beginners, but gosh, how different they seem. But now BJ is a rich widow and single parent – a very yummy mummy -  with a toyboy. Her different world would not have been a problem if the story and/or the humour had gripped me, but it didn’t. Not at all.

After page 27, fed up with reading about nits and jokes about nits, I skimmed huge chunks of the book, only reading it properly for the last quarter, when the new true love of BJ’s life finally became part of the action.

For the last 24 hours, since I finished the book, I have been mulling it over and wondering and worrying about Plotting for Beginners fans. Do they feel let down by Plotting for Grown-ups? The two books are rather different, and I have a feeling that Plotting for Grown-ups may be what Billy Mernit calls a room-splitter. Some people have told me they love it better than any of my other books, and Lynn, of I Prefer Reading, listed it as one of her top ten books of 2013  (which was lovely!), but some people I know have not mentioned it at all.

Ooh, ooh, ooh….nearly forgot! BJ has written a screenplay and while at an important meeting with a film producer, she has her mobile phone on her knee and is texting frivolously throughout. What a noonah! You can bet your children’s life that if Sally Howe was lucky enough to have a screenplay under consideration she’d behave like a professional.

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