Bridget Reed Morawski ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Author: Helen Fielding
Published: October 15, 2013
Series: Bridget Jones
Genre: Fiction, Comedy
Beware Spoilers Ensue… Despite high hopes for the latest installment in Helen Fieldings’ Bridget Jones series, the book fell short of expectations. At times confusing, Fieldings’ novel was difficult to get through. While the writing was definitely on par with your typical romantic comedy sort of book, the actual subject matter and timeline rendered the novel wholly unenjoyable.
Fielding’s writing is fantastically funny and brilliantly on-point. Jones’ struggles are very relatable, even to those that are not 50-year-old widowed mothers reentering the dating world while balancing their children and career. A repeated plot point involved Jones nervously sitting by her cell phone, arguing with herself as to whether or not she should be the first one to text her love interest. It tends to get rather repetitive, because of Jones’ lack of determination to actually accomplish much. She spends most of her time idling about her home, occasionally shopping for outfits pulled from fashion magazines. While it perhaps was intended as commentary on the contemporary tendency of social media and leisurely pursuits getting in the way of what we must actually accomplish, it was just a bore to read. Why should a reader care to take the time to read about the borish subject matter of Jones’ Twitter feed and her unsuccessful attempts to make herself a popular Twitter sensation? The readers have their own borish Twitter feeds to update.
The novel is difficult at times because of constant bouncing around of narrative focus. Some days she is completely focused on her love life, others her career, others her children. It makes logical sense that, in the contemporary world that Jones’ focus would completely switch from goal to goal. However, as a reader, the way that various plotlines are carried out is disappointing. Toward the beginning of the novel, Jones finds herself involved with an obesity clinic in order to radically drop a few dozen pounds (or stones, or whatever it is the British refer to their weight as). Her commentary was hysterical, but then suddenly she just stopped going – and it’s not mentioned anywhere else in the rest of the book. She just stops following the clinic’s guidelines. And that’s that.
Some plotlines were completely skimmed over. For example, Jones has a (completely exaggeratedly) hellish time planning her Christmas with the children, and has to negotiate between something like five or six different possible Christmas plans without hurting feelings of anyone involved. She finally decides days before Christmas what her plan is. Then the actual going through with the plans are summarized a chapter later, unsatisfyingly to the reader that has been teased with the standard, crazed plans that we’re all too accustomed to and is looking forward to seeing how the holiday is carried out for the Darcy clan – especially so for the reader digging into the novel during their own holiday chaos.
This plotline skimming carries over to the end. Throughout the entire novel Jones has been having mini-crises that tend to culminate in a few snide remarks at the children’s school by Mr. Wallaker, Jones’ son’s teacher. After an entire novel primarily focusing on Jones’ growing adoration of the generations-and-a-half-younger-than-her Roxster, her new boy toy, suddenly Jones is in love with the Mr. Wallaker. This definitely could have been a sweet wrap up with a nice lesson; you don’t necessarily need someone twenty-some years your junior to make you feel young and happy, just someone stable and pleasant. Something like that, but explored in greater depth and with more detail. The Mr. Wallaker love plot crops up within forty, fifty pages of the ending of the book. Barely anything happens between the two until the last few chapters (which are incredibly short).
The nail in the coffin of this novel was Fielding’s wrapping up of Jones’ life in the very last chapter, entitled “Outcome.” As if this was the end of Jones’ entire life. The whole purpose of her narrated yearlong man lust was to secure someone to make her happy, to get over her dead husband and move on. Yes, Jones moved on, but in a way reminiscent of a cheesy movie montage where every character’s future is quickly summarized in a sentence of two just prior to the credits rolling. Fielding summarizes Jones’ future life with Mr. Wallaker in a highly unsatisfying manner. We endured Jones bemoaning her agony of loving a younger man, as well as her wholly unsuccessful screenplay and her rather lackluster friend group, for several hundred pages. Jones finally finds a man that seems to be interesting and with some personality, and the book ends.
Fans of the Bridget Jones series will probably enjoy this book despite its’ flaws. If you weren’t a Jones girl before, don’t become one now for this installment. ★★★ (C+)