Bridget’s back!

By Kirstin Buick
24 October 2013

Author Helen Fielding spills the beans about her neurotic literary character, Bridget Jones, who is back in a new novel.

Can you believe it’s been 14 years since the previous Bridget Jones novel? Now the neurotic heroine makes her triumphant return in a new book, Mad About the Boy, for another round of madcap adventures. Read what British author Helen Fielding has to say about her much-loved literary creation who is now a 50-something cougar obsessed with Twitter . . .

Why have you made us wait so long for the next installment? We’ve missed Bridget!

It was a choice between either keeping on doing the same thing or waiting until I had something different to say. And that’s what I did. It came to me quite organically this book; I wasn’t expecting to write it. I have the note in my diary from March 2012, “I wonder if I could write a book about…” It wasn’t initially about Bridget.  And then the voice became Bridget’s voice.

What’s changed in Bridget’s life over the past decade?

Bridget is quite a lot older now so things are very different, both in her life and in our lives. The world has completely changed since I wrote the first book. Some of the things I found particularly funny and intriguing while I was writing the new book were to do with technology.  Bridget now lives her life through texting. She has her own set of rules about it – the number one rule being “do not text when drunk”.

How has Bridget embraced social media?

Well one of Bridget’s resolutions is that she’s going to get on Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp so she doesn’t feel out of it and old. She treats Twitter how she previously treated calories, “number of followers: 0”.  She joins because she thinks it’s going to connect her with others in the evening, but she ends up feeling unpopular and that others are tweeting about how unpopular she is. I’m really interested in Twitter. I joined myself and got so obsessed with it that I couldn’t live my life without tweeting and over tweeting, and Bridget also has trouble with all of that. 

On the front cover of the new book, Mad About The Boy, there are kids’ toys next to Bridget’s high heels. Can we assume there are now children in the picture?

Well Bridget is now a mother and parenthood becomes another of those things that she thinks she’s meant to be really good at, but that she thinks she’s really crap at. So she reads a lot of parenting books. She does sometimes forget her children and leave them on the pavement and she does sometimes worry that they’ll be taken into care by the social services – but essentially she loves them.

The first book was published in 40 countries, has sold more than 15 million copies worldwide and both films proved to be huge blockbusters. What do you think it is about Bridget that has such worldwide appeal?

I never expected anything of Bridget – I started writing it anonymously as a column in theIndependent and thought they would stop it after six weeks for being too silly. So it was a wonderful thing to happen to a freelance journalist and I didn’t understand why it had happened. I think the appeal is that it deals with the gap between how people are expected to be and how they actually are. Women particularly are inundated with all of these airbrushed images of perfection and so you think that’s what you’re mean to be. What I am most proud of about Bridget is that she makes you feel that it’s alright to be human.

Author Helen Fielding
Picture: Alisa Connan

Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding is available on Kalahari.com

- Jane Vorster

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