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.