Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones Mad About The Boy by Helen FieldingBook Review
Title: Bridget Jones Mad About The Boy
Author:  Helen Fielding
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Released: October 15, 2013
Pages: 386
ISBN-10: 0345807952
ISBN-13: 978-0345807953
Stars:  4.0

I’ll never forget reading Bridget Jones’s Diary. It was July 1998 and I was traveling through Ireland on my own for the first time. Helen Fielding’s iconic masterpiece was referred to me by my best friend who’d had it referred to her by a close girlfriend. I was sick with a terrible head cold and spent one day in the most miserable B&B in all of Ireland, I’m sure (Goin’ My Way in Dublin), trying to take care of myself. The room wasn’t clean, the mattresses were about three inches thick, the sheets musty, the pillow as flat as a pancake. There were cracks in the window and cobwebs everywhere. But I was too sick to care. It was cheap and I needed to just stay in bed and so I did and I read Bridget Jones’s Diary and I couldn’t put it down because I absolutely loved it!

Helen Fielding has been dubbed “the grandmother of chicklit” by Barbara Walters and I hadn’t read anything like chicklit before reading Bridget Jones’s Diary. She had created a single, thirty-something character who was bright, funny, insecure and far from perfect who had a circle of eccentric but loving friends and that’s almost exactly who I saw myself as at that time (I was 34). Bridget Jones is a woman that almost all women can relate to and in the third and long-time-coming novel about her, Bridget Jones Mad About The Boy, I can still relate to her 51-year-old self even though I’ve never married, had children, or had a partner die on me.

It’s no longer a surprise that Fielding decided to kill off the suave and debonair Mark Darcy (who loved Bridget “just the way she is”) and in fact, fans everywhere were horrified when they first heard the news. But it’s okay…really! The book only suffers a little from the fact that Darcy is not in it because his spirit certainly is and there are new characters that are almost as charming. Bridget still logs her calories and time spent tackling to-do lists in her diary. She still calls her pervert ex-boss Daniel Cleaver a friend, and while she’s more clean-living than she was in her 30s, she’s still as neurotic as she tries to figure out her way through raising two young children by herself while maneuvering through online dating in 2013. Of course it helps a lot that Darcy left her a fortune and she doesn’t really have to work to support her family. If he hadn’t this would have been a completely different book.

As the story begins, our heroine has been saved from her status as a born-again virgin by her soon to be 30-year-old toy boy Roxster whom she met on Twitter, but she doesn’t know how or whether she should invite him to her friend Talitha’s 60th birthday party, and she’s just discovered her children Mabel and Billy have head lice. Bridget is now attempting a career as a screenwriter and is adapting Ibsen’s Hedda Gabbler into a story relevant to modern women even though she thinks it was written by Chekhov and doesn’t know how to spell Gabler. She’s dealing with email inbox bombs, histrionic soccer moms, and trying to grow her followers on Twitter (while studying the Dalai Lama’s tweets). She has not got over the death of Mark, five years earlier, and she doesn’t know if she ever will. After the opening Prologue, Fielding takes us back to one year earlier and we find out how this situation came about.

There are appearances here by Daniel, Tom, Jude, Magda & Jeremy, Bridget’s mum and her friends Woney & Cosmo, but we also get to know Chloe the nanny, Perfect Nicolette, the Class Mother, gym teacher Mr. Wallaker (rather like Daniel Craig in appearance), first date Leatherjacketman, neighbour Rebecca, her eternally busy & bumbling agent Brian Katzenberg, and of course there’s a lot of flirtatious texting with Roxster in between Mummy moments. Bridget’s kids are endearing and into Minecraft and Plants versus Zombies too. However, none of the supporting characters in Mad About The Boy will ever be quite as appealing as Mark Darcy, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a fun, enjoyable read.

By Part Three of the book, Descent Into Chaos, Bridget’s life makes another U-turn and everything we supposed was going to happen, doesn’t. This is a good thing because the ending is a surprise. The tone changes and so does Bridget but there is an opening here for another volume, somewhere down the road.

The constant in Mad About The Boy is the comedy sprinkled with truly touching moments as expressed in a way that only Bridget Jones can. What really struck home for me this time was her decision to attend an obesity clinic to help her get her weight under control so she wouldn’t have to be a born-again virgin forever which is precisely what I’ve been going through for the past three months, during which time I haven’t eaten food but have been surviving on Optifast shakes, water, diet drinks and coffee with Stevia (I’ve lost 38 lbs).

The chapters on How Not To Do Dating, The Number One Key Dating Rule (DO NOT TEXT WHEN DRUNK) and Escalating Dating Incompetence are particularly hilarious. While I, too, find it easy enough to shag younger men, they’re not in it for a relationship and I can’t find anyone my own age with either integrity or baggage that’s light enough for me to carry. The thing is, Bridget Jones, even though she’s a fictional character, gives me hope! And that is the essence of her long-lasting appeal. She gives us all hope that we can figure out a way to get through the crap that life slings at us without totally losing our sense of humour and without having to give up on the notion that we’re entirely loveable just the way we are.

Daisy Dooley Does Divorce by Anna Pasternak

Book Review
Title: Daisy Dooley Does Divorce
Author: Anna Pasternak
Publisher: 5 Spot
Released: 2007
Pages: 368
ISBN-10: 0446177946
ISBN-13: 978-0446177948
Stars: 4.5

Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:55am (Facebook)

This is the book I’m reading at the moment…snug in my bed under my brand new duvet where I can totally ignore the horrendous winter that’s waiting outside along with an hour’s worth of snow shoveling!

Daisy Dooley Does Divorce is a humorous and heartfelt romp through 39-year-old Brit, Daisy Dooley’s divorce and her consequent quest to understand men, relationships, and most importantly herself and the decisions she makes. It’s a Bridget Jones’s Diary for divorcees and an easy, charming and highly enjoyable read. It is laugh out loud funny, often thought-provokingly poignant and Daisy’s penchant for spiritual/self-help books makes her a kindred spirit. You will love this heartwarming, easy-to-read-in-a-few-sittings book about friendship and daring to realize one’s dreams, even if you’re not divorced or have never been married. Anyone who has been disappointed at some point in her life by love will find so much in common with delightful Daisy. She’s full of spirit, sass and sensitivity and if she were a real person I would want to be her friend.

This particular nugget of wisdom struck me this morning when I read it…

It was true – my heart was like Miles’s shelves, gnawed and splintered with emotional woodworm. I read on: “The difference between a little life and a big life is trust. Trust is the midwife of a big life. People only choose little lives because they don’t trust and they want to control.” That’s the most difficult thing in life, I thought, getting the balance right between not giving up on your dreams and yet having enough faith in their fruition to let them go.

This paragraph rings so true to me as I struggle every day of my life with climbing the mountain of adversity (the mountain that I know is largely self-made) and self-doubt, all the while wondering if I even believe in true love anymore, let alone have the faith that it will find me some day. I have to be willing to be open to it, to trust that it exists and that eventually there will be a man out there who won’t lie to me, use me, play me for the fool, trod all over my broken heart and leave me to reinforce my bitter, cynical, untrusting view of men. They can’t all be utter heartless, cruel, dishonest cads, can they? Now if I could just believe that and hold it as truth in my heart, I might have a fighting chance of actually attracting the right one. Must focus on The Law of Attraction and believe that I deserve the love of a truly good man! If I believe he’s out there, he will be and he will find me.

Discovering the novel Daisy Dooley Does Divorce by Anna Pasternak was the biggest joy I had in reading in 2008. The book was based on Anna’s weekly column of the same name in the London Daily Mail (it has since been retired). Anna’s honesty as a writer, the depth of her characters and her fantastic wit quickly made her a new favourite author and any woman who enjoys chick/wit lit or romance and relationships between women will undoubtedly love this book.

This is the review that changed my life.

It began with my becoming acquainted with a lovely, intelligent woman named Paige O’Neill who is the person who looks after The Waterboys’ online presence on numerous social networking websites. Paige and I connected in 2006 when I sent Mike Scott of The Waterboys a personal letter about a sick friend of mine who was a huge fan (as am I). We became good friends online and in the past three years she has become a soul sister of immense importance in my life, even though I have never met her in person.

Paige looks after the maintenance of Daisy Dooley’s MySpace profile for Anna Pasternak and in March 2008, after reading my review of the book, and with Paige’s recommendation, Anna asked me to help her maintain a Facebook fan page and group for Daisy Dooley. I was honoured to do it and I even got paid for it.

Since then, and as a result of Paige and Anna’s unfailing support and encouragement, I formed my own business, Scully Love Promo, promoting authors & musicians using the major social networking websites on the internet. Over the past year and a half, I have worked for at least 10 different talented artists and although this is only a part-time endeavor for me at this time, I believe there is a good chance that it could one day become my full-time job. And I love it! I love spreading the love about artists that I respect and admire. I’ve done this naturally for many years through my review writing and in every day conversation with friends. However, now I get paid to do it, and I owe that privilege to Paige O’Neill and Anna Pasternak, who are the most amazingly resilient, spiritual, intelligent, and loving women and friends that anyone could hope to have.

Above all else, that is why I continue to recommend this delightful book, Daisy Dooley Does Divorce by Anna Pasternak (available through 5 Spot, a division of Hachette Books, Grand Central’s trade paperback imprint featuring fresh, original voices in women’s fiction and nonfiction).

Daisy Dooley Does Divorce by Anna Pasternak

Scully Love Promo (a.k.a. Christine Bode) would like to tell you about a fantastically funny, heartwarming delight of a book called:

DAISY DOOLEY DOES DIVORCE by Anna Pasternak

It’s a funny inspiring tale for anyone who has braved the courageous and sometimes disastrous journey towards true love.

Meet Daisy Dooley:

“The only thing sadder than being thirty-nine and still single is being thirty-nine and freshly divorced. And unemployed. And living with your mother. (And her dogs.)”

In the tradition of Sex and the City and Bridget Jones’s Diary, Anna Pasternak’s popular column in the London Daily Mail, Daisy Dooley Does Divorce, has evolved into this witty novel full of hope, humor, wine…and dachshunds.

Daisy Dooley Does Divorce has a profile on MySpace and a Fan Page and a Group (Fans of Daisy Dooley Does Divorce) on Facebook, each one with slightly different content, celebrating the novel. I invite you to read about it and its lovely author there and add yourself as a fan. All you have to do is type Daisy Dooley in the Search box on the top left hand corner of your Facebook profile.

Publisher: 5 Spot (Hachette Book Group USA) / Ebury Publishing under their Vermilion titles in the UK

Author Bio:

ANNA PASTERNAK is the author of the popular column, Daisy Dooley Does Divorce, which has been running in London’s Daily Mail since November of 2004. She is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Princess in Love about Diana’s love affair with Major James Hewitt. The grandniece of Russian novelist Boris Pasternak of Dr. Zhivago fame, she lives outside of London with her daughter Daisy and her dog Wilfred.

More about Anna, by Anna:

Believe it or not, a woman as daft, ditzy, desperate, daring and occasionally as delightful as Daisy Dooley is someone I relate closely to. I’m not saying I’m quite that self-absorbed. Actually that’s a fib because I am. But really my life had started out with such promise. The idyllic childhood. The famous ancestry. The revered Oxford academic father. The beautiful interior designer mother. The place at Oxford University with the glittering social life to match. With a siren-spinning surname, I owed it to myself and my family to do something of note. So of course my future was all mapped out. I’d waltz out of Oxford and into some top job that marked me out as special, wouldn’t I? But that wasn’t quite the way it happened, and it knocked me for quite a loop. Really, who wouldn’t agonize over such monumental life cock-ups- realizing on your honeymoon that you had married the wrong man. Come on, could it get any worse?

Naturally I worried myself half to death about how I was then going to get my life right, let alone learn to love again- myself and a worthy mate, that is. So Daisy Dooley was born out of my own ridiculous and miserable myopic marriage and divorce, followed by my dire dating experiences. I found that the only way to reach the other side of unhappiness and raging insanity was to poke fun and send myself up in the most unbecoming, but hopefully often endearing ways. And judging by the sales in self-help, I can’t be the only woman who has stood in a bookshop by a stack of best sellers, feeling utterly broken inside and turned with trembling hands to any uplifting tome that might just instill a further nugget of promise that actually, yes, if you believe this or chant that, you will feel less of a failure and more emotionally grounded and secure.

As I ricocheted from starter marriage to a relationship with a younger man that ended in- further shock and horror- my single mother status, at least I clung to my spiritual support. I began to believe in something bigger than myself- if the knight on the white charger wasn’t going to save me, at least my guardian angel might. I’ve lived through all Daisy’s disappointments but have an amazing daughter to show for it. And would you believe it, after all the life knocks, I still believe in the happy ending!