When Helen Fielding was first working on Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (out Oct. 15), she kept mum about reviving her heroine for the 21st century. She wasn't being coy; she was reliving a time of no expectations. Bridget Jones began life in 1995 as the fictitious byline of a weekly newspaper column about the madcap life of a single girl, only to become the archetypal late-20th-century single woman, the focus of two worldwide best sellers and two successful films. Fans related to Bridget's anxieties about her diet and love life, while feminist critics deplored her for obsessing about those things.
Fielding's new book picks up in 2012 with Bridget at 51, a single mother back on the dating scene, still seeking inner poise and her ideal weight. With the new book, she says, "I could be very honest in the way that I was when I first started writing Bridget, because no one was interested." It may sound like a paradoxical desire from a writer, but then, this is the year that J.K. Rowling was outed for publishing detective fiction under a pseudonym. And what Rowling is to young-adult fantasy, Fielding is to thinking-woman's comedy.