Last week on Woman's Hour Helen Fielding revealed to Jenni Murray that she is writing a new Bridget Jones book. The last time we heard from Ms Jones (in book form) was in 1999 in the second volume of diaries The Edge of Reason. Fielding explained the gap to Murray, saying: “I sort of lost my voice with Bridget for a long time after the unexpected success when it first came out...It was very easy to write and be honest, then I got all self-conscious.”
Recurring rumours since 2001 of a new Bridget Jones film, accompanied by nudging headlines about Renée Zellweger needing to bulk up fast if she is going to play the gargantuan Bridget, will now have slightly more conviction about them. So much easier to make a film based on a book when there is a book. I'm sorry, but I'm just a stickler for tradition like that.
Ignoring the brief 2005 resurrection in newsprint, the response to Fielding's news that she is currently hard at work writing about Bridget's forays into the world of social media, “number of Twitter followers – nought, still no followers, still no followers” (and I assume motherhood – though Fielding didn't mention it in the interview) after a hiatus of 13 years is impressive. Especially due to there being no question in any articles announcing the new book about whether or not it will work. Usually news of a band reforming, a prequel or sequel being written, or an era being revived is met with at best scepticism, at worst pure derision – no matter how fond we are of the original product, in fact due to our affection for the original. But in 1995 when Bridget Jones first came to our attention we seem to have taken her, very firmly, to our hearts.
But is it pure adoration for the flawed single every-woman Jones that has caused the excitement? In 1995 when Bridget Jones's diary was published it showed a new single woman, outside the only other 2 types we knew - Cosmo Girl and Bitter Spinster. It revealed to smug marrieds that singletons were on to their dissatisfaction, and it wasn't just Chardonnay soaked envy talking. But for young female readers such as myself the impression was that we apparently had nothing but obsessing over Mr Right and big pants in our future. More importantly it revealed society's curiosity and bafflement about what a woman actually does once she is over 30 and hasn't spawned or married.
Jones became both a role model and a go-to stereotype for single women and those writing about single women. Both convinced life would improve immeasurably once that stubborn half stone was lost. Then that job would become a career, that fuckwit would become that fiancé and, well I am all out of possible ambition for today's single women.
It revealed to smug marrieds that singletons were on to their dissatisfaction.
Only... this time Bridget Jones will no longer be in her 30s. She will be pushing 50 with her follies grown into vices. No doubt rubbing into her cellulite hormone cream her GP fobbed her off with when she complained of menopausal symptoms, possibly surviving on redundancy pay and bringing up her son as a single parent. Could it be that this Jones is going to be more useful as society's insight into the middle aged woman than the feckless 30-something of the 1990s?
All Cosmo Girls go to Heaven
Everybody, Stop Moaning