Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

October 20, 2013

Bridget Jones returns

LONDON (AP) — Readers, there is good news and bad news. Bridget Jones is back. But — brace yourselves — Mark Darcy is dead.

Fans have been shaken by the revelation, leaked ahead of publication of “Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy,” the third book in Helen Fielding’s series about the diary-writing singleton. He may be fictional, but the demise of Bridget’s handsome lawyer lover — played on the big screen by a smoldering Colin Firth — was headline news.

“I turned on the news and there was the Syrian crisis, and then ‘Mark Darcy is dead,’” Fielding said, amazed.

“It’s quite extraordinary for a fictional character to be treated as if they’re alive. I sort of think, hats off to Colin, because really he inhabited that character.”

The reaction is a testament to the hold of Fielding’s characters on the popular imagination. In ditsy, indomitable Bridget, she created an archetype. (In Darcy she borrowed one, from the brooding Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”).

Bridget, created for a series of 1990s newspaper columns, was a 30-something Londoner looking for love and career fulfillment while enduring the condescension of “smug marrieds” and confessing her many insecurities in her diaries: “Alcohol units 7, cigarettes 22, calories 2,145. Minutes spent inspecting face for wrinkles 230.”

In “Mad About the Boy” she is still counting calories and booze, though cigarettes have been replaced by nicotine gum. Bridget is now a 51-year-old widow with two young children, convinced she will never find romance again.

Fielding said she had no choice but to kill Darcy so Bridget’s story could move on.

“The book I wanted to write was not about domesticity, married life. It was about Bridget struggling with what life throws at you,” Fielding said.

over lunch at the London gastropub where she likes to write in the daytime.

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