Helen Fielding returns with another

Bridget Jones novel, ‘Mad About the Boy’

Sherryl Connelly | New York Daily News | October 2, 2013

In this third book in the BJ saga, Mark Darcy has died and Bridget is a dumpy middle-aged single mom who’s not having sex, until she meets her ‘toy boy’ .

Mark Darcy died a hero’s death. And Bridget Jones sleeps alone again in “Mad About the Boy,” the first BJ book from author Helen Fielding in 14 years.

More shockers: She’s 51 and the mother of two small children. And fat.

In short, Bridget Jones is a middle-aged, dumpy single mother with no sex life.

It makes you want to ask, where is Fielding going with this?

Not to worry. She’s seen us through two novels “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” which together have sold more than 15 million copies and been made into two movies starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.

First, let’s put Mark to rest.

The story told in “Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy” begins several years after Darcy’s death in 2008, when the jeep he was traveling in hit a land mine in the Darfur region of Sudan. Identified in the obit as a “leading international figure in victim representation,” the lawyer was in Sudan to secure the release of two British workers held hostage by the rebel regime.

Their children, William and daughter Mabel, were 2 and 3-months-old at the time.

Four years later, Bridget is trying to start life again but just can’t.

“Dear Mark,” she writes him, “I miss you so much. I love you so much .... But the thing is, Mark, I just can’t manage on my own. I really, really can’t.”

True that.

Her weight has ballooned to 175, and wine has once again become her chief nutritional supplement. And while she relentlessly chews Nicorette gum in lieu of smoking, Bridget still begins each diary entry with a running tally of defeat, as in:

“Thursday 19 April 2012: 175 lbs., alcohol units 4 (nice), calories 2822, possibility of having or desire to have sex ever again 0.”

Her friends, Talitha, Jude and Tom — Shazza is off making a fortune in Silicon Valley — are determined that things must change.

“Grieving apart, Bridget has lost, or shall we say, mislaid her sense of sexual self. And it’s our duty to help her relocate it,” pronounces Talitha, still hi-def glamorous at 60.

Jude judges Facebook too advanced, or rather too rife with the potential for humiliating herself, for Bridget. But she does sign on Twitter @JonesyBJ, then waits weeks for followers to come. In the meantime, Bridget seeks help at an obesity clinic. After a rocky start, where on a typical day she consumes 28 chocolate protein bars and 37 chocolate protein puddings on top of regular meals, she loses weight.

She even finds meaningful work, submitting a screenplay, “The Leaves in His Hair,” to a production company that gives it a green light. It’s just unfortunate that on the title page Bridget identifies the story as a modernization of “Hedda Gabbler” by Anton Chekhov.

It is Mr. Wallaker, the new head of sports at her son’s school, where the children go by precious names like Atticus and Eros, who eventually informs her that Gabler is one “b,” and the play was written by Henrik Ibsen.

By then she has repeatedly embarrassed herself in his presence. Once, he even finds her up a tree, her thong on full display, in Hampstead Heath. Never mind he has the looks and bearing of Daniel Craig, seems wryly amused at her most outrageous moments, and in so many ways brings to mind a certain Mark Darcy. Hint: She isn’t having him. For one thing, she believes him to be married. For another, she has her “toy boy” to attend to.

She meets the “gorgeous-beyond-belief” 29-year-old Roxster on Twitter — she finally gains followers after tweeting her newly devised dating rules. Roxby McDuff works for an eco-charity and, oh my, the sex they have.

He is the boy she is mad about, the title taken from the Dinah Washington song she dances to alone in the kitchen after their first highly erotic night together.

The affair caroms forward, reaching its glorious zenith when at a party jammed with condescending, middle-aged, married couples who openly pity Bridget’s singletonness, Roxster leaps into a pool to rescue Talitha’s toy poodle.

He emerges abs gleaming, and in that glorious moment, Bridget is rebranded as the luckiest girl in town.

The two cannot last as a couple, and don’t, which paves the way for Bridget to have a disastrous experience with Botox, bond more closely with the women in her life who reveal themselves not to be perfect, too, and discover Mr. Wallaker’s first name.

There’s a big reveal about Mr. Wallaker, not to be disclosed except to say that it qualifies him as an eminently suitable successor to Mark Darcy.

And oh, right, Daniel Cleaver. With Colin Firth gone, Hugh Grant must have a role to play in the third movie. Well, Daniel has it about right when he tells Bridget, “I feel tragic, a past-it old fool.”

Other than Daniel’s trip to rehab, which he refers to as the sin bin, “Mad About the Boy” ends quite happily ever after.

Just as you knew it would.