Helen Fielding - Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (3 stars)

The third Bridget instalment retains the warmth and wit of its predecessors

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Helen Fielding - Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy

(Jonathan Cape)

Hours taken to read book: seven. Amount of promotional chocolate bars consumed before even starting to read book: one. Number of times I LOLed: 17. Number of times I got emotionally over-involved and sobbed: three. Number of friends who furtively asked to borrow the book: five.

The third instalment in the Bridget Jones series begins by introducing us to a 51-year-old widow with two children and a nanny – a character virtually unrecognisable from the chain-smoking, heavy drinking, short-skirt-wearing anti-heroine of the previous two books.

Yes, Darcy is dead. In Bridget’s own words, this is intolerable and does not get things off to a very good start. You will spend at least the first few pages shaking your fist at an invisible Helen Fielding. But slowly, like the unfurling wings of a lumbering flightless bird, the Bridget magic comes to life. Soon you are ensconced in a reassuringly familiar, albeit slightly darker, fug of over-drinking, over-eating, obsessing-to-the-point-of-madness about men and general social and professional ineptitude.

Little niggles include the rehashing of many jokes from the previous books, presumably intended to delight old fans but more likely to annoy them, and the vaguely cynical shoe-horning of every single technological invention since 1999 into Bridget’s new life.

Killing off one of the main characters was a risky move, dragging Bridget and her readers into some uncomfortably dark places, but Fielding has lost little of the original warmth and wit which made the first books so commercially appealing.

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