Oct. 9, 2013 at 9:02 AM ET
The second TODAY Book Club pick is the long-awaited third installment of the Bridget Jones series, “Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy!” Share your thoughts about the book’s big revelations by joining the TODAY Book Club community, a fresh and interactive digital discussion series. RSVP to the Google Hangout with author Helen Fielding, happening Nov. 4 at 10 a.m.ET., follow @TODAYsBooks and stay up to date with the TODAY Book Club newsletter. Catch Helen Fielding live on her author tour.
Author Helen Fielding wasn’t always so sure there would be a second sequel to the story, but “Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy” hits U.S. bookstores at long last on October 15—a whole 14 years since the last book. Why did she keep fans waiting so long?
“With something like ‘Bridget,’ which is an unexpected success, you have a choice,” Fielding told TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager. “Either you keep carrying on, doing the same thing—over and over again—or it means something really important to you, and you wait until you’re ready and you have something important to say again.”
Fielding took a bit of a gamble with the new book’s storyline, picking up with Bridget as a single mom in her 50s.
That is in large part because Fielding herself was the inspiration for the character, she says, and that is where she finds herself in life right now.
“When I wrote the first ‘Bridget,’ the idea of the 30-something single woman was still a tragic, barren spinster,” Fielding told TODAY. “And as I was looking around me, I thought, the same thing’s going on with the 50-something woman. She’s got a tight perm in a shopping bag. She’s not sexually viable. She’s past her sell-by date. All these stereotypes are still there, but they’re not reflecting what’s really happening, which is women of what used to be called middle-aged have still got it all going on. ”
The other huge risk Fielding took with the book was—spoiler alert!—killing off Mr. Darcy, Bridget’s reindeer sweater–clad beau, played in the film so memorably by Colin Firth.
In “Mad About the Boy,” Bridget finds herself a widow with two small children. “I know it’s very, very, very hard,” Fielding told TODAY. “The hardest thing was calling up Colin Firth to tell him. It was one of the strangest conversations of my life, because I had to ask him if he had someone with him and if he was sitting down. And it was literally as if someone really had died. But then, we kept sort of laughing because there hadn’t.”
Make no mistake though, the book is still a comedy—with modern updates. Yes, there is twunking—drunk tweeting—and a Botox incident.
After all, Fielding said, comedy comes out of real things. “There are very few people who’ve got to Bridget’s age to whom something sad has not happened. And in the way that the first book was about the gap between how you feel you’re expected to be and how you actually are, I think this one is about the gap between how you think life ought to turn out and how it actually does turn out.”
“Bridget” fans, did Fielding’s gamble pay off? Join the TODAY Book Club and tell us what you think as you read the book.