Reader, I buried him:

Bridget author braves fans’ anger

Rhoda Buchanan | The Times – September 30, 2013

He is not the first romantic hero to be killed off by his author, but fans have reacted with horror to the death of Mark Darcy in the latest Bridget Jones book.

As if this was not damage enough to inflict on her heroine, the author Helen Fielding has the highly irresponsible Daniel Cleaver babysit Bridget’s children while the now 51-year-old diarist visits a pop-up “speakeasy” in Hoxton.

In an extract of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, published in The Times today, Bridget’s friends take her on a night out where she is chatted up on a hay bale in East London, leading to her first sexual encounter in five years.

The famous singleton is now a widow, having married and been widowed by Darcy, with two young children. Her new challenges consist of pushy parents, nits and the digital revolution. Fans found it hard to accept the loss of Darcy, the human rights lawyer-boyfriend who was played by Colin Firth on screen.

“Why would you kill Mark Darcy, Helen Fielding, why?!” one shocked reader wrote on Twitter.

One reader said that they needed black clothing and a drink, while another mused: “Pretty funny that people are so mad at Helen Fielding. Though if I were her I wouldn’t drive on icy roads in desolate areas.”

Instead of the brooding Darcy, Bridget, at one stage, has a 29-year-old boyfriend named Roxster.

One Twitter user said: “Surely the news that A. Conan Doyle killed off Holmes raised less rancor than Helen Fielding’s choice to kill off Mark Darcy.” A more supportive fan wrote: “Well done to Helen Fielding, I say. Who would’ve bought a book about 51-year-olds in married bliss?”

Bridget Jones’s Diary, published in 1996, was described as one of the top 10 books that defined the 20th century. A second book, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, followed in 1998. Growing out of a newspaper column, the books were eventually turned in to films starring Renée Zellweger, Firth and Hugh Grant. Thirtysomething Bridget battled with her weight, had on/off relationships, consumed cigarettes and alcohol and at one point was imprisoned for drug dealing in Thailand.

Darcy finally proposed, but the new book makes it clear that although they married, they did not live happily ever after. The cause of Darcy’s death is not being revealed in advance but is buried in a flashback within the new diaries. The rakish Daniel Cleaver is godfather to Billy and Mabel, Bridget’s children.

Fielding has always denied that Bridget Jones is autobiographical, but she herself is 55 and a single mother of two young children. After her relationship with Kevin Curran, a television executive on The Simpsons, ended in 2009, she returned from Hollywood and lives with their children in North London.