A tepid follow-up to the intermittently engaging 1998 bestseller Bridget Jones's Diary, the hottest import from Britain since the Beatles.
Yes, folks, Bridget is back, reprising her role as the most self-involved single woman of the old (and new) millennium. As usual, she's full of beans - not to mention cloying self-deprecation, irritating weight- and cigarette-obsession and vulgar pronouncements. (Once we've heard Austin Powers, why would anyone need Bridget's commentary on "shagging" and "snogging"?) Even fans of the original will find the sequel disappointing. Bridget has landed herself a boyfriend (one Mark Darcy, but in case you don't get the reference, Bridget goes to great pains to spell it out for you), but she's - surprise! - having problems with commitment. (Or, more accurately, she's having problems getting him to make a commitment.) Mark appears to be stepping out on Bridget with an acquaintance she hates, a situation that allows her to spend hour upon hour dissecting the relationship with her equally tiresome friends Sharon and Jude. Meanwhile, Bridget is trying to reinvent herself as a serious journalist, which, in this case, means as a celebrity interviewer. She also endures a weird and implausible stay in a Thai prison, the most important result being the loss of at least ten pounds. While Fielding isn't clearly taking all this seriously - she does have some fine moments sending up the self-discovery movement - there's enough coyness here to turn even the strongest of stomachs. Bridget, however, is stalwart, forever retaining her questionable sense of humor, her aggravating passion for puns and made-up words ("pashmaster"? "pashmincer"?) and her unabashed ties to the kind of writing most contemporary American women's magazines won't publish anymore.
Had enough? We can only hope that British book-buyers have, too, and that we'll be receiving fewer literary care-packages like this one.