Isabel Berwick | The Financial Times - December 12, 2013
The vulnerable, funny Everywoman for the times returned this year
with a third book to fill in the gaps in her life.
Bridget Jones, now 51 and living in north London with
her children, this year published Mad
About the Boy, the long-awaited third volume of her
personal diaries. Bridget has been a celebrity since 1995 when her
(then) angst-and-Chardonnay fuelled Diary first appeared as
a weekly column in the pages of The Independent newspaper. Bridget was a
thirtysomething single woman in London and her ruthlessly honest Diary chronicled
the search for love, skinniness and “inner poise”.
Bridget, who comes from Northamptonshire, was educated at Bangor
University and then pursued a career in publishing in a lowly but
unspecified job – where she first fell for her deceitful, charming and
cheating boss, Daniel Cleaver. They had an on-off (mostly off)
relationship and have remained friends.
As her newspaper columns became a word-of-mouth hit, Bridget got a book
deal, and we found out more about her life and her advancing career
through the first two volumes (published in 1996 and 1999). These still
make for laughout-loud reading, and enshrined Bridget as a vulnerable,
funny Everywoman for the times. There’s now a sort of nostalgia for
that last pre-internet and smartphone age, when it was normal to have a
strong love/hate relationship with a home landline and answerphone.
During her flirtation with Daniel, she once stayed at home for two days
“glaring psychopathically at the phone, and eating things. Why
hasn’t he rung? Why?” As the nation followed Bridget’s tricky
quest to hold down a job (first in publishing, then television) while
also seeking a man who was “not married, mad, alcoholic or f***wit”,
it turned out that the perfect partner was in fact living on her
doorstep. Mark Darcy, a famous human rights barrister, was the son of
family friends, and the couple first met at a New Year’s day Turkey
Curry Buffet in the local village.
It took several years, a rocky start (and Mark having to free Bridget
from a Thai jail) before Bridget signed off her Diaries, looking forward
to a solid future together. (Mark even said Bridget could smoke in the
Then, this year, Bridget returned, and has filled in the gaps in her
life since we last heard from her. In Mad About the Boy,
Bridget tells us about her life in north London with her children, Billy
and Mabel. She hit the headlines once more when the book was published
and it was revealed that she did marry Mark – and they were very happy
– but he was killed while on a human rights mission abroad.
As a widow barely holding it together at home, Bridget has struggled
during the year, but her new diary gives her loyal fans grounds to hope
for her future. There are new challenges and pitfalls for the naturally
clumsy Bridget – including the entire worlds of online dating,
texting, sexting and Twitter.
And, unfortunately, the diaries are still being ghostwritten for Bridget
by one Helen Fielding, who seems to grab all the headlines and
Bridget appears content with her life: she has lost Mark Darcy but
she’s got her old friends (Jude “now practically runs the City”),
her health (she’s been fat but gets thin again) and, most important,
her kids. As Bridget says, after decades of reading self-help books, she
knows how to give herself a pep talk: “Just enjoy them growing up. Don’t
miss it. They’ll be gone soon.”