Written by: Helen Fielding, 2016
Published in the UK by: Jonathan Cape
BACK WITH A BUMP
Squished betwixt first sequel The Edge of Reason (1999) and 2013’s hugely successful – and for some, highly contentious – comeback Mad About the Boy in Bridget’s flitting and flighty chronology, this companion novel to Universal Pictures/Working Title’s new hit film (which I reviewed HERE) is a warm, gigglesome and agreeable, if threadbare, read, inspired by Helen Fielding’s newspaper columns published in The Independent.
If you were to take out the frequent gaps between entries/chapters I doubt this light hardback would manage to fill 200 pages. This is not a problem, per se, but when you are enjoying the quirky characterisation so much, it is a shame there isn’t more of it to devour. Furthermore, all too often Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries feels scant, insubstantial and in too much of a hurry to reach the happy ending.
Presented as a portmanteau of diary entries which the new mother is presenting to her firstborn as a clarification of the chaos surrounding how he came into this world, the snappy journal structure – well known to fans of Miss Jones – means the pages/days fly by at a staccato pace of conversations, text messages, first world dilemmas and even the occasional calorie count. Two thirds of the way through her log three months of Bridget’s pregnancy are glossed over with the one-line justification that she was bedding down and ‘hermitising’ herself away from the madness beyond her front door.
Truly skewing the continuity between the written and filmic incarnations (as if 2004’s Edge adaptation didn’t do a good enough job of that), Diary presents roughly the same story as on screen but with Daniel Cleaver neither missing or presumed dead but front and centre as the second potential father to Bridget’s ever-expanding bump. Therefore, Patrick Dempsey’s Jack Qwant is eradicated, so too his festival shenanigans with the world’s most endearing Singleton.
Clearly Hugh Grant’s decision not to feature in film number three greatly diverged the plots (allegedly he disliked an early incarnation of the script), and I’m not suggested Helen Fielding should have been so influenced as to change her novel, but it does make it somewhat surreal to read lines spoken by Dempsey coming from Daniel Cleaver on the page. If Mad About the Boy (or any future stories where Darcy is still in the picture) does make it to cinemas, I hope Grant can be persuaded back to the roguish role.
CR@B’s Claw Score: