About the Book:Move over, Bridget Jones’s diary: She’s back, and this time she’s texting and tweeting. . .
Fourteen years after landing Mark Darcy, Bridget’s life has taken her places she never expected. But despite the new challenges of single parenting, online dating, wildly morphing dress sizes, and bafflingly complex remote controls, she is the same irrepressible and endearing soul we all remember—though her talent for embarrassing herself in hilarious ways has become dangerously amplified now that she has 752 Twitter followers. As Bridget navigates head lice epidemics, school-picnic humiliations, and cross-generational sex, she learns that life isn’t over when you start needing reading glasses—and why one should never, ever text while drunk.
Studded with witty observations about the perils and absurdities of our times, Mad About the Boy is both outrageously comic and genuinely moving. As we watch her dealing with heartbreaking loss and rediscovering love and joy, Bridget invites us to fall for her all over again.
Read an Excerpt
Saturday 8 September 2012
Just woke up from delicious, sensual dream all mixed up with Daniel and Leatherjacketman. Suddenly feel different: sensual, womanly and yet that makes me feel so guilty, as if I’m being unfaithful to Mark and yet . . . is so sensual feeling like a sensual woman, with a sensual side which is sensually . . . oh. Children are awake.
11:30 a.m. Entire morning has been totally sensual and lovely. Started day with all three of us in my bed, cuddling and watching telly. Then had breakfast. Then played hide and seek. Then drew and colored in Moshi Monsters, then did obstacle course all in pajamas, all the while with roast chicken emitting delicious fragrance from the Aga.
11:31 a.m. Am perfect mother and sensual woman with
sensual possibilities. I mean maybe someone like Leather-
jacketman could join in with this scenario
and. . . .
11:32 a.m. Billy: “Can we do computer, now it’s Saturday?”
11:33 a.m. Mabel: “Want to watch SpongeBob.”
11:35 a.m. Suddenly overwhelmed with exhaustion and desire to read papers in echoing silence. Just for ten minutes.
“Mummeee! De TV is broken.”
Realized, horrified, Mabel had got hold of the remotes. I started jabbing at buttons, at which white flecks appeared, accompanied by loud crackling.
“Snow!” said Mabel, excitedly, just as the dishwasher started beeping.
“Mummy!” said Billy. “The computer’s run out of charge.”
“Well, plug it in again!” I said shoving my head into the cupboard full of wires under the telly.
“Night!” said Mabel as the TV screen went black, and the tumble-dryer joined in the beeping.
“This charger doesn’t work.”
“Well, go on the Xbox!”
“It’s not working.”
“Maybe it’s the Internet connection.”
“Mummy! I’ve unplugged the AirPort, I can’t get it in again.”
Realizing my thermostat was veering dangerously towards red, I scampered off up the stairs saying, “Time to get dressed, special treat! I’ll get your clothes.” Then ran into their bedroom and burst out, “I hate fucking technology. Why can’t everyone just FUCKING SHUT UP AND LET ME READ THE PAPERS.”
Suddenly lurched in horror. The baby listener was on! Oh God, oh God. Should have got rid of it ages ago but paranoid as single parent, fear of death, etc., etc. Ran downstairs to find Billy racked by sobs.
“Oh Billy, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it. Was it the baby listener?”
“Nooooooooo!” he yelled. “The Xbox is frozen.”
“Mabel, did you hear Mummy in the baby listener?”
“No,” she said staring delightedly at the television. “De TV is mended.”
It was showing a page asking for the Virgin TV password.
“Billy, what’s the Virgin password?” I said.
“Isn’t it the same as your banker’s card, 1066?”
“OK, I’ll do the Xbox, you put in the password,” I said just as the doorbell rang.
“That password won’t work.”“Mummeee!” said Mabel.
“Shh, both of you!” I yelled. “There’s SOMEONE AT THE DOOR!”
Ran up the stairs, head a mass of guilty thoughts: “I’m a terrible mother, there is a hole inside them left by the loss of their father which they are trying to fill with technology,” and opened the door.
It was Jude, looking glamorous but hungover and tearful.
“Oh Bridge,” she said, falling into my arms. “I just can’t stand another Saturday morning on my own.”
“What happened . . . tell Mummy . . .” I said then remembered Jude was a grown-up financial giant.
“The guy I met on Match.com and went out with the day before the Stronghold? The one I had a snog with?”
“Yes?” I said trying vaguely to remember which one.
“He didn’t call. And then last night, he copied me in on a global text saying his wife has just had a baby girl 6 lbs 12 oz.”
“OhMyGod. That’s disgusting. That’s inhuman.”
“All these years I didn’t want children and people kept saying I’d change my mind. They were right. I’m going to get my eggs unfrozen.”
“Jude,” I said. “You made a choice. Just because some guy is a fuckwit it doesn’t mean it was the wrong choice. It’s a good choice for you. Children are . . . are . . . ” I glanced murderously back down the stairs.
She held out her phone showing an Instagram picture of the Fuckwit holding his baby.
“. . . cuddly and lovely and pink and 6 lbs 12 oz and all I do is work and hook up and I’m all on my own on a Saturday morning. And. . . . ”
“Come downstairs,” I said, darkly. “I’ll show you cuddly and lovely.”
We clomped back down. Billy and Mabel were now standing cherub-like, holding out a drawing saying, “We Love You Mummy.”
“We’re going to empty the dishwasher, Mummy,” said Billy. “To help you.”
Shit! What was wrong with them?
“Thank you, children. That would be lovely,” I purred, bustling Jude back upstairs, and outside the front door, before they did something worse like emptying the recycling bin.
“I’m going to defrost the eggs,” sobbed Jude as we sat down on the steps. “The technology was primitive then. Crude even, but it might work if . . . I mean I could get a sperm donor and. . . . ”
Suddenly the upstairs window in the house opposite shot open and a pair of Xbox remotes hurtled out, landing with a smash next to the dustbins.
Seconds later, the front door flung open and the bohemian neighbor appeared, dressed in fluffy pink mules, a Victorian nightdress, and a small bowler hat, carrying an armful of laptops, iPads, and iPods. She teetered down the front steps and shoved the electronics in the dustbin, followed by her son and two more boys wailing, “Noooooo! I haven’t finished my leveeeeeeel!”
“Good!” she yelled. “When I signed up for having children, I did NOT sign up to be ruled by a collection of inanimate thin black objects and a gaggle of TECHNO-CRACKHEADS refusing to do anything but stare with jabbing thumbs, while demanding that I SERVICE them like a computer tech crossed with a five-star-hotel concierge. When I didn’t have you, everyone spent their entire time saying I’d change my mind. And guess what? I’ve had you. I’ve brought you up. And I’ve CHANGED MY MIND!”
I stared at her, thinking, “I have to be friends with that woman.”
“Children of your age in India live entirely successfully as street urchins,” she continued. “So you can just sit on that doorstep and instead of putting your ENTIRE BRAINS into getting to the next level on MINECRAFT, you can apply them to CHANGING MY MIND about letting you back in. And don’t you dare touch that dustbin or I shall sell you to the HUNGER GAMES.”
Then, with a toss of her bowler-hatted head, she flounced back into the house and slammed the door.
“Mummeee!” Shouting and crying erupted from my own basement. “Mummeee!”
“Want to come back in?” I said to Jude.
“No, no, it’s fine,” Jude said, happy now, getting to her feet. “You’re completely right. I have made the right choice. Just a bit hungover. I just need to have breakfast and a Bloody Mary at Soho House and read the papers and I’ll be fine. Thanks, Bridge. Love you. Byee!”
Then she teetered off in her Versace knee-length gladiator sandals, looking hungoverly fabulous.
I looked back across the street. The three boys were sitting in a line on the doorstep.
“Everything all right?” I said.
The dark-haired son grinned. “Yeah, it’s fine. She just gets like this. She’ll be all right in a minute.”
He glanced behind him to check the door was still closed, and pulled an iPod out of his pocket. Then the boys started giggling, moved closer together, and bent over the iPod.
“Sharp and humorous. . . . Snappily written, observationally astute. . . . Genuinely moving.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Bridget’s back! And as irrepressible as ever. . . . Sweet, clever, and funny.” —People
“A clever mashup of texts, emails, tweets, and diary entries from Bridget, a bighearted person who brings hearty humor to the ordinary vicissitudes of life. . . . Fielding’s wit is generous and forgiving.” —Chicago Tribune
“Fielding’s comic gifts . . . are once again on shimmering exhibit.” —Elle
“Tender and comic.” —The New Yorker
“Feels like visiting with your funniest friend.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Delightful. . . . Bridget Jones was a character made for the Internet, from her confessional tone to her casual creation of memes.” —Los Angeles Times
“Sweet and satisfying. . . . Bridget still has her posse of funny friends and her shelf of self-help books.” —USA Today
“Helen has always had a sharp eye for the obsessions and neuroses of our times, a talent much in evidence here—her [Bridget’s] liability rests very much on her believability.” —Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue
“Very funny.” —The Boston Globe
“Sweet, clever and funny. Yay Bridget!” —People (five stars)
“Fielding has somehow pulled off the neat trick of holding to her initial premise—single woman looks for romance—while allowing her heroine to grow up into someone funnier and more interesting than she was before. . . . Mad About the Boy, is not only sharp and humorous . . . but also snappily written, observationally astute and at times genuinely moving. . . . Bridget-the-parent is like a character in a Russian novel, lurching constantly from ecstasy to despair, sometimes in the course of a single paragraph. . . . Its big heart, incisive observations, nice sentences, vivid characters and zippy pace make it a book you could happily spend the night with. It is possible I cried a little at the end, but then, as Bridget might say: am sucker for happy endings.” —Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review
“As Bridget might say, it’s ‘v. v. good.’ . . . [She’s] still hilarious and hopeful, even while making crazy mistakes and pointed asides and romancing a sexy younger man.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“I read the book. I loved it. I loved her. She’s smart, she’s funny and she makes us all feel like we’re good just the way we are.” —Jenna Bush Hager, Today
“Just as Helen Fielding did with the dating world of London in the 1990s, she now casts her laser-sharp eyes on midlife and parenthood. . . . Fielding’s wit is generous and forgiving. . . . A clever mashup of texts, emails, tweets, and diary entries from Bridget, a bighearted person who brings hearty humor to the ordinary vicissitudes of life.” —Chicago Tribune
“Inimitable. . . . If you don’t shed a few tears in the course of this book, you must have a heart of ice.” —The Guardian (London)
“Fielding’s comic gifts—and, just as important, her almost anthropological ability to nose out all that is trendy and potentially crazy-making about contemporary culture, from Twitter (‘OMG, Lady Gaga has 33 million followers! Complete meltdown. Why am I even bothering? Twitter is giant popularity contest which I am doomed to be the worst at’) to online dating—are once again on shimmering exhibit. And Bridget is still recognizably her ditzy but ultimately unfazable self. . . . [Has] the sort of narrative propulsion that is rare in autobiographically conceived fiction, not to mention an unsolipsistic world view (for all of Bridget’s fussing over herself) that invites broad reader identification.” —Daphne Merkin, Elle
“She’s back! Our favorite hapless heroine returns after a decade-plus hiatus, juggling two kids, potential boyfriends, smug marrieds, rogue gadgets, and her nascent Twitter feed.” —Vogue
“With Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding created a new female archetype. Now she’s brought Bridget back to conquer the twenty-first century. . . . The diary form itself pays homage to Austen, lifting Fielding’s work above many pale imitations. Austen’s heroines aren’t writers, but Fielding’s is. . . . Austen’s plots are marriage plots, and ultimately so are Bridget’s. But Fielding’s novels (like Austen’s, and like Sex and the City and Girls) also revolve around friendship—something at which Bridget excels. Nor is the character’s staying power an accident. Fielding . . . is still very much a writer.” —Radhika Jones, Time
“A character like Bridget Jones is so beloved that she becomes something of a virtual best friend. . . . [The] third Bridget romp is every bit as engaging, hilarious and sometimes downright naughty as the first two: perfect light reading after a long day of holiday shopping, online dating or herding co-workers.” —Dallas Morning News
“Fielding manages to both move and delight the reader time after time. . . . Hilarious.” —New York Journal of Books
About This Guide
The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, the long-awaited continuation of Bridget Jones’s boisterous, smart, and moving diary.
About This Book
What do you do when your girlfriend’s sixtieth birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend’s thirtieth?
Is it better to die of Botox or die of loneliness because you’re so wrinkly?
Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating?
Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice?
Is it normal to be too vain to put on your reading glasses when checking your toy boy for head lice?
Does the Dalai Lama actually tweet, or is it his assistant?
Is it normal to get fewer followers the more you tweet?
Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood?
If you put lip plumper on your hands do you get plump hands?
Is sleeping with someone after two dates and six weeks of texting the same as getting married after two meetings and six months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day?
Pondering these and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of loss, single motherhood, tweeting, texting, technology, and rediscovering her sexuality in—Warning! Bad, outdated phrase approaching!—Middle Age.
In a triumphant return after fourteen years of silence, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is timely, tender, touching, page-turning, witty, wise, outrageous, and bloody hilarious.
Question & Answer
1. Who is “the boy”? Is it who you first thought it would be?
2. How did you react when you read about Mark Darcy’s fate?
3. Age is a major theme in this novel. Why does Bridget feel the struggles more acutely than some of her contemporaries?
4. Bridget’s friends deal with aging in different ways. Talitha believes in Botox while Bridget notes that Woney has not done any of this “rebranding” (page 66). Why do these different characters make these different decisions?
5. Dating rules have changed dramatically since Bridget’s last appearance. How well does she adapt?
6. Bridget is adapting Hedda Gabbler, which she explains is a story about “the perils of trying to live through men” (page 17). What is Fielding’s intent with this parallel?
7. In what ways did Daniel change from the previous books? And how did he stay the same?
8. Why does Roxster tell Bridget he “hearts” her? (page 250). Does he really mean “love,” or is this something else?
9. Mr. Wallaker tells Bridget, “. . . other people’s lives are not always as perfect as they appear, once you crack the shell” (page 323). How does Bridget finally learn this lesson? What earlier opportunities did she have to learn it?
10. On page 361, Tom tells Bridget about a new survey: “It proves that the quality of someone’s relationships is the biggest indicator of their long-term emotional health—not so much the ‘significant other’ relationship, as the measure of happiness is not your husband or boyfriend but the quality of the other relationships you have around you.” How does this bode for Bridget? Which characters might have cause for concern?
11. At the carol concert, Mr. Wallaker looks at Bridget in a certain way and she realizes she loves him. What finally brings her around?
12. What is the significance of the owl?
13. Bridget’s last entry ties up the story in a cozy, comforting way. What do you imagine will happen next?
About This Author
Helen Fielding, a journalist and novelist, is the author of four previous novels—Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Cause Celeb, and Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination.
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