SATURDAY 24 JUNE Noon. London: my flat.
[Bridget Jones is talking to her mother on the phone]
‘Having a baby is not the be all and end all of a woman’s life,’ I said, struggling into an absurd floaty peach dress, which I last wore at Magda’s wedding.
‘That’s the spirit, darling. And some people have marvellous lives without them! Look at Wynn and Ashley Green! They went down the Nile thirty-four times! Mind you, they were a couple, so …’
‘Actually, Mum, for once in my life, I’m very happy. I’m successful, I have a new car with satnav and I’m freeee …’ I gushed, glancing out of the window to see – bizarrely – a group of pregnant women walking along the road below the flat, fondling their bumps.
‘Hmmm. Anyway, darling…’
Grrr! Why does everyone try to make you feel stupid about not having babies? I mean, pretty much everybody feels an element of ambivalence about the whole thing, including my mother. She’s always saying, ‘Sometimes I wish I’d never HAD children, darling.’ And anyway, it’s not that easy to pull off in the modern world, as men are an increasingly unevolved primitive species, and the last thing you want is … Gaah! Doorbell.
12.30 p.m. Was Shazzer – finally! Buzzed her in, then darted, freaked-out, back to the window, whilst she clopped across the room to the fridge, dressed in a wildly christening-inappropriate little black dress and Jimmy Choos. ‘Bridge, come the fuck ON. We’re beyond late! Why are you hiding under the window dressed like a fairy?’
commentary: This is getting a bit like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure series. I am second to none in my admiration for Bridget Jones, and always have been, but I’m getting confused by the various outcomes in her life. At the end of the second book (The Edge of Reason) we left her [spoiler!] comfortably engaged to Mark Darcy. Then there was a gap, and many years later, 2014, in Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy we found her the widowed mother of two children, about to venture into the dating world again. (My goodness it’s a pity Tinder wasn’t really a thing then.)
Then came the recent film – set ‘now’ of course, and showing Bridget single, pregnant, and unsure who the father is (ie, the events of the last book had never happened). There’s a choice between Mark Darcy and an American millionaire who made his money from a dating app. The film is light-hearted, absolutely hilarious, and a complete delight to watch.
I saw this new book out, and assumed it was a novelization of the film, something I was more than happy to read. So imagine my surprise when I find it has a similar plot to the film but with one massive change – the putative other father is our old friend Daniel Cleaver, back in Bridget’s life.
You just have to give up and enjoy the ride at this point, no point trying to make sense of it all. Fielding didn’t really cash in on Bridget Jones – the total is now four books and 3 films over 20 years – so she’s entitled to do what she wants.
And the book is, like the recent film, delightful and hilarious. Of course it is also silly and unreal, but it is so entertaining you can just sink into it. New friend Miranda the newsreader is a wonderful addition to the entourage. I loved Bridget’s desperate attempts to wean herself off Daniel: she changes his name in her phone list to DANIEL FUCKWIT DO NOT ANSWER. The book is full of texts and calls, and every time this came up it made me laugh like the first time.
Amid the slapstick and simple humour, there are also some really clever jokes – Daniel’s novel is
‘…Time’s Arrow in reverse. The characters believe time is moving backwards, but it’s actually moving forwards.’And I loved Miranda quoting from a
‘But doesn’t that just mean time is moving in the direction it normally does move in?’ I said.
‘It’s a conceptual novel, Jones. It’s existential.’
‘Survey in next month’s Psychiatry Last Week Today.’Matching up with the arts programme (where Daniel’s novel is going to be ripped to shreds) Arts Next Week Tonight.
A joy from start to finish, and the perfect read to lift your spirits, at a moment when some of us might feel we really need it.
I think it’s fair to say that this one is not based on any work by Jane Austen.
I don’t suppose any of these dresses is quite like Bridget’s, but I did particularly like the Vivienne Westwood wedding dress, top.