Warning: May contain mild spoilers!
I bought this book via Kindle on the first day it was out, and I was really excited to see how Bridget and Mark were getting on a decade and a half after they waltzed off into the sunset after The Edge of Reason.
I’m a huge Bridget fan, and I couldn’t wait to see what Helen Fielding had in store for our heroine in this new installment. So imagine my surprise when I realised very quickly that our quirky gal was back on the market, once again out in the dating world – this time as a single mother of two in her 50s!
Wait – what? Where was Mark Darcy? Why is Bridget single again? And how did this 51 year old end up with a 29 year old boy toy??
The answer will depress you. Mark Darcy has been tragically killed five years previously, leaving Bridget a widow when their second child is only three months old. *SOBS*
I’ll be honest, this was not what I had in mind. Us Bridget devotees want to see our girl happy and silly and making mistakes that ultimately end up leading her to her happy ever after. Even in the old books, when her love life was continually spiraling out of control, we still rooted for her and knew that she would come out on top, giving hope to singletons everywhere.
Instead, we have the entire gang (minus Shaz who has emigrated to America to do some sort of tech company) still unlucky in love and acting like idiotic teenagers. Jude is playing at internet dating because Vile Richard (whom we had accepted as actually quite lovely in the last book) had left her after they were married a very short time. Tom is still looking for long term love on the gay scene. And Daniel Cleaver has become one of those extremely pervy old men and also a depressive alcoholic!
Bridget, as usual, bases her entire self worth on how much she weighs and (this is new!) how many Twitter followers she has. She has also become much smarter and wittier in her older age and has magically been able to not only WRITE a screenplay but get it optioned into a movie with little to no effort.
Her children, though obsessed with Spongebob and video games, are remarkably well-adjusted for having lost their father so young, and with a nanny on board and fancy schools to educate them, mummy hardly has to spend any time with them. Instead, she can go out clubbing and bring back young men to shag without worry.
As usual, things get messy, and the ups and downs of her love life become complicated by age differences, confused feelings toward her son’s teacher, and her loyalty to her dead husband. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, yadda yadda yadda.
I do wonder why Helen Fielding felt the need to write this book. I really would have preferred to keep wondering what happened to Bridget and Mark, making up my own endings, than to have been fed this ultimately unsatisfying post script. Truly, I get that in reality, many 50-something women may be dealing with divorce or bereavement. I understand that suddenly single moms can’t be expected to pack it in and become nuns with no life (sexual or otherwise). And I get that in this day and age, there are more singletons in all age groups than happily ever afters. But really, it’s as if the author was grumpy that her fictional heroine waltzed off into the sunset and wanted to bring her down a peg.
Granted, the book does come full circle and there is a surprisingly happy ending (as one would expect), but there is something unforgivable about how Fielding ruined this perfect love story by giving us a dose of reality. Something about it just doesn’t ring true.
At the end of the day, I did enjoy the book. But to do so, I had to distance myself from the earlier books and treat it as its own story: That of a widowed single mother trying to get back out in the world rather than as my favorite fictional character completely and utterly ruined.
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