BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY

Fielding brings back beloved single lady Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary, 1998; Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason, 2000).

The last time readers met Bridget she was on her way to a happily ever after with mild-mannered English barrister Mark Darcy. In this third installment, Bridget is once again looking for romance. She is now 51 and the mother of two young children, Billy and Mabel, from her relationship with Mark. (The fate of Bridget’s union with Mark is covered early on.) The opening pages find Bridget fretting about her new man, Roxby McDuff (yes, folks, that is his real name; sorry, Mr. Darcy). Roxster, as he’s called, is 20 years Bridget’s junior. She met him on Twitter. This “toyboy” is fun and flirty, but is he someone who can commit long term? The book considers the role of social media and mobile devices in modern dating, a time in which murky texts stand in place of phone calls and, well, actual dating. It’s here that Fielding is at her sharpest, with Bridget at one point boasting that she “lost 2lbs through texting thumb-action.” Any action, it seems, is better than none. The book also examines the pitfalls of dating later in life. Should you admit to your younger boyfriend that you can’t read the fine print on a menu card without pulling out reading glasses? And how many fart jokes need to be exchanged before you begin to suspect that your younger man is immature? Along the way, Bridget’s friends from the previous books resurface, not to mention a certain lecherous ex-boss, Daniel Cleaver, these days more vulnerable and lost. There are laugh-out-loud moments throughout: Bridget would not be Bridget if she didn’t have a makeup mishap (she accidentally applies mascara to her upper lip before a date) and yo-yoing weight issues (she admits herself into an obesity clinic; it doesn’t go well). But the writing is also characterized by a certain sadness as Fielding touches on loss and mortality and the passage of time. The ending feels rushed and many will wish Fielding had devoted more space to developing various romantic matters leading up to it. But one thing is certain: Bridget hasn’t given up on love. Nor should she. At any age. Not as rich as Fielding’s first two Bridget Jones books. Bridget’s fans will want it anyway. When Fielding is funny, she’s very funny.              

 

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-385-35086-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2013

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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