Review of ‘Mad About the Boy’ by Helen Fielding

Available from Amazon.

A few weeks ago, one of my posts could have been summed up in the phrase ‘I HATE CHICKLIT’, so why, oh why, did I download and then read the latest by Helen Fielding, the author who, arguably, invented the genre?  Well, Dear Reader, I have to confess that I did enjoy Helen’s previous two Bridget Jones novels, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary‘ and ‘Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason‘ and I have a particular affection for Cause Celeb, Helen’s before-she-was-famous novel about famine relief in Africa.  However, I did read all these books when they came out, about a decade ago.  My then teenage daughter enjoyed them together.  I watched the first Bridget Jones film on a cross Channel ferry with my son, the revolutionary, and he even laughed at it.  I suppose I committed myself to ‘Mad About the Boy’ out of a sense of loyalty and because I’d read the others.  However, it seems that my tastes have moved on, but Helen’s literary style hasn’t.

As this book has been widely reviewed in the newspapers, I’m not revealing anything I shouldn’t when I write that ‘Mad About the Boy’ opens with Mark Darcy – the man of Bridget’s dreams, who she eventually married – dead, and Bridget herself a fifty-five year old widow.  However, even though she has two primary school children, she hasn’t changed a jot; still she writes about her calorie intake and how she’s exceeded it, worrying about the rules of dating and behaving like a love-sick schoolgirl over various unsuitable men.  Even the least mature fifty-five year old grows up a bit, methinks.  And, how is it that Bridget and Mark, having married when she was about thirty-five, waited so long to have children?  By my reckoning, their offspring should be starting university, not be at primary school.

Jude is still there and apparently ‘running the City’, also Daniel Cleaver, now a (partially) reformed character.  Bridget’s mother remains a caricature.  Shazza Picture of moon on dark skyhas been pensioned out of the story.   Of Bridget’s two children, the youngest, Mabel, little more than a tot, is by far the most interesting, with a lisp, saying things like ‘The moon followeth me’, and her massive conscience mortified when she discovers that she has given her class nits.   (Perhaps this ‘Mabel’ will inspire a resurgence in the name, one of the few Victorian monickers which hasn’t made a come back.)  In the background were a bevy of private school mothers, who might have been funny, but there were too many for us to get to know, and the fact that Helen didn’t didn’t get on their side indicated that she didn’t properly know them either.

Roxter, the toyboy, was a well-drawn character and very believable, a man with a great sense of humour and, as a contrast to Bridget’s constant dieting, a trencherman, but he figures in less than half the story.  Moreover, the timeline is confused, Bridget with Roxter at the beginning, then not with Roxter, and further on we read about how Bridget and Roxter meet.   Towards the end of the book, Bridget appears to act her age at last… but then she loses her maturity again in the last hundred pages by running after another male, who has only had a vague, walk-on part up until now.

It was an easy read, making no demands on the reader at all.  The book contained some vivid descriptive passages.  Helen stuck to scenarios she knew and understood well (the media), hamming up the sex and the humour.

So, Dear Reader, would I recommend it?  I wrote, in an earlier post, that I wouldn’t review books I didn’t like and that my silence must speak for itself.  I’m afraid I’ve broken my rule.  I am, however, not the best person to review it.

(Image copyright free from Wikpedia.)

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2 thoughts on “Review of ‘Mad About the Boy’ by Helen Fielding

  1. I agree with everything you’ve said and although I don’t think the story starts well, it does pick up towards the middle. Unfortunately, it doesn’t maintain the momentum. Glad I read it though so I can judge for myself, but wouldn’t recommend it as a gripping read.

  2. Interesting. I was on the fence on whether to get this book, like you, out of loyalty to the original one, which was kind of fun, even if outside the realm of what I usually read. Despite being a supposed reflection of a woman my age, I am now thinking I can comfortably skip it.

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