I have nothing to say that’s not a major spoiler, so everything is after the jump. Proceed with caution. Or reckless abandon. Whatever. Follow your heart.
So, let’s just rip the Band-Aid right off. Mark Darcy is dead. Let that sink in for a minute. Not only is he dead, but he was blown up in the Sudan while he was working to free imprisoned aid workers. Bridget is now a widow with two small children. To channel Shazzer, I’ll just say what the ACTUAL FUCK? Surely Helen Fielding knows deep in her soul that killing off Mark Darcy was the wrong thing to do. The overcompensation for the absence of Mark is extreme. HERE. LET ME COUNT THE WAYS SHE COMPENSATES FOR THE LACK OF MARK DARCY. First, Bridget dates a 29-year-old toy boy named Roxster who she meets on Twitter. (Actually, that’s not technically true. First, Bridget goes on a couple of dates some rando she met in a bar who she calls Leatherjacketman. It’s brief, it ends in tears, and it’s irrelevant to my point here, so I’m ignoring it.) Toy Boy Roxster is smoking hot like fire. In case there was any doubt of his hotness, everyone literally gapes openmouthed at his ripped abs at a party when he tears off his shirt to jump into a swimming pool to save a dog who inexplicably can’t swim. Roxster is also funny and attentive and all around an absolute delight of a man. He laughs at Bridget’s jokes and makes her laugh, too. He tells her she’s beautiful. He calmly puts out a fire when Bridget sets the stove alight. Bridget is basically living out the stereotypical fantasy of stereotypical women everywhere that some hot young dude is going to appear out of the ether and love her just the way she is.
They eventually break up for reasons that don’t matter here. It’s amicable, Bridget is fine.
Once her fling with Roxster is over, Bridget develops a crush on a teacher at her son Billy’s school, one Mr. Wallaker. Mr. Wallaker has been a background character for most of the book. Naturally, at the beginning Bridget doesn’t like him because he’s entirely too stern with the children. For instance, he makes his decisions about who gets into the chess club based on merit, and Billy doesn’t get in, so obviously Mr. Wallaker is the devil incarnate and has no business working with children. But he also helps Bridget and her kids out of a pinch when all three Darcys get stuck in a tree in the park and he happens along during on his daily jog. And he often says sweet things to Bridget like that she shouldn’t have gotten Botox because her face was nice beforehand. And then he tries to kiss her one day because he thinks they have something, and she gets all huffy and storms off because she thinks he’s married to an over-Botoxed crazy lady. He also says something about being able to tell when a woman is teetering or floundering or something, which is very Mr. Darcy of him but doesn’t actually make up for the lack of the real Mark Darcy in this book and which (quite rightly) pisses Bridget off. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Wallaker is jogging in the park again and sees Bridget with Roxster. They’re actually in the middle of the aforementioned amicable breakup, but it looks like they’re getting engaged because of the totally believable contrivance that Roxster is down on one knee for the split, which is followed by a hug. Why shouldn’t Roxster kneel before Bridget for their breakup and give her a happy hug afterwards? This is obviously real life. But just wait. Bridget’s life is about to get even realer.
When Bridget tells her kooky neighbor the whole story of how married Mr. Wallaker tried to kiss her, Kooky Neighbor asks to see a picture of the scoundrel. Instead of calling him a cheating bastard as you’d expect, she’s all, “Oh, I’ve known him for ages. That’s Scott. He’s not married. Also he’s a special forces superspy and an all-around excellent chap.” Suddenly, Bridget finds herself afflicted with BURNING LOINS for Super Trooper Scott.
Having shouted and stormed off in a huff of indignation at their last meeting, she’s not sure how to get back to the place where he wants to kiss her. First Mr. Wallaker wanted to kiss, and Bridget didn’t. Now Bridget wants to kiss and Mr. Wallaker might be banging a tall, slender twenty-something instead of wanting to kiss Bridget. STAR-CROSSED LOVERS INDEED. And Kooky Neighbor REFUSES to set Bridget and Scott up on a date so Bridget can explain the misunderstanding. So Bridget pines and pines for Mr. Wallaker who is friendly but doesn’t go out of his way to compliment her anymore. It’s obvious Bridget has missed her chance and will die Mr. Wallaker-less, and she spirals into the depths of despair.
And then Mr. Wallaker SAVES BILLY’S LIFE when a Time-Is-Money Irresponsible Dad pays so little attention to his driving that we find a new BMW precariously teetering over the edge of a sunken sports field where Billy and his two best friends are trapped beneath the car. Mr. Wallaker draws on his Special Forces Super Spy Skillzzzz and uses his well-toned muscles to hold the car up to keep it from crashing down and killing everyone, all while keeping the kids calm and talking them through escaping danger and imminent death like he’s Captain bloody America. (Except he’s British, so Captain UK? It doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it?)
Mr. Wallaker and Bridget have a moment, but then he gets a phone call and goes haring off somewhere, presumably to jump in bed with the hot leggy twenty-something.
Finally, after the Christmas choir recital (Billy got into the choir on the merits of his singing voice! Now we really don’t hate Mr. Wallaker!) when Bridget’s kids both conveniently have been invited to sleepovers but neither Bridget nor Mr. Wallaker have been invited to a sleepover (YET), she and Mr. Wallaker go to the pub together and the whole misunderstanding about the toy-boy engagement and the Botoxed wife and twenty-something girlfriend is straightened out. No one is married and no one is cradle-robbing! And then Mr. Wallaker tells Bridget he’s in love with her. AND LO AND BEHOLD BRIDGET IS IN LOVE WITH MR. WALLAKER, TOO. Stop here for a minute so I can be sure you understand what’s happening here. These people have never even been on a date before. Hell, they’ve never even spent any time alone together except for the minute it took for Mr. Wallaker to try to kiss Bridget in a semi-crowded park that one time while there was still a Marriage Misunderstanding getting in the way of their happily ever after. But now they are IN LOVE. At this point, the book really spirals out of control. They go from being in love to living together in about a second. They decide not to get married but instead they realize they haven’t christened any of their children, so instead they invite all of their families to a mass christening and party afterwards that also serves as a Not-Wedding for Bridget and Mr. Wallaker. Now she has someone who can keep her from setting things on fire and zip up her dresses (don’t even get me started on the angst in this book about not having someone to help with the dress zippers). And then they live happily ever after. All of this happens in the span of about 5 pages. It’s like Helen Fielding just got tired of writing or hit the minimum word count required for this book and just wrapped everything up as quickly as possible.
So, to sum up. Mark Darcy is dead. And I am MAD ABOUT THE BOY, and not in the way the title intended. To replace him, we had not one but two men with killer bodies who both want to spend the rest of their lives with Bridget & Co. and love her for just who she is (this will sound familiar to those of you who remember the early days of Bridget and Mark). As if that wasn’t enough, the one she actually ends up with is a bloody superhero. That tells you the size of Mark Darcy’s shoes and how hard it is to fill them (cue middle school innuendo of your choice re: shoe size here). This plot is absolutely bonkers. And honestly, after I was done with this book, I realized I needed to cleanse my palate and go back to a place where Mark Darcy was alive, so I watched Bridget Jones’s Baby on Netflix because I hadn’t gotten around to seeing it yet. It wasn’t great, and if you also haven’t seen it yet and for some reason feel inclined to do so, I recommend only watching the scenes with Emma Thompson who is obviously a joy to behold and hands down the best thing about this movie. And so to cleanse my palate from that, I went back and watched the original Bridget Jones’s Diary to remember what I liked about any of these people in the first place. The moral of this story is that if you’re Jonesing (PUN INTENDED) to return to this world, just go back and read the original book or watch the first movie again. Mad About the Boy is not going to be that fix for you. However, if you want a book that will make you cry in your car on your commute (the grief over Mark is real and moving and cut me like a knife and I was not emotionally prepared for that) intercut with an absolutely ridiculous rom com plot, then this is your book. But really, y’all. There are better choices.