Early reviews for Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (Jonathan Cape) have delivered a less than favourable verdict.
Sarah Crompton in the Telegraph has labelled the Mad About the Boy "a clunking disappointment", saying that Bridget herself, now a screenwriter and widowed single mother with a toyboy boyfriend, is "unreal".
"The tone is all wrong. Reading the first two thirds of Mad About the Boy is like listening to someone who once had perfect pitch, but now can’t sing a note," Crompton wrote.
However she detected signs of improvement as the novel continues: "Despite [Fielding's] odd decision to sideline the devilish Daniel, who makes tantalisingly brief and genuinely funny appearances, and introduce a promising new neighbour only to ignore her, she is still superb at the construction of the comic set piece."
Christina Patterson in the Sunday Times said: "It isn’t just the style that jars: the random capital letters, the subjectless sentences, the mannerisms that now seem awfully tired. It isn’t just the rather hysterical tone. It isn’t even the pile-up of clichés: the room that “looked like a bomb had hit it” or the stare “like a rabbit caught in the headlights”. Or the fact that Fielding will never just give two or three examples — of funny self-help books, of children’s names that sound like Latin declensions — when she can give 10. It’s the fact that I hardly believed a word of it. I didn’t believe that a 51-year-old woman would tot up the number of minutes she’d spent on Twitter, and spend meetings about her own film script sending saucy texts. I didn’t believe she would say, and keep saying, “Gaah!”
Patterson concluded that the only part of the novel she believed in was Bridget's children, "so clearly the emotional heart of this deeply uneven book."
According to Justine Jordan in the Guardian, Jones' new status as a widow is part of the problem. "Bridget has been given such a tragic backstory, and the very grown-up burden of young fatherless children, that there's less traction to be had from dating niggles: and with so much darkness there already, Fielding seems unwilling to write any more in. There's a new sentimentality, even slushiness, to her old subjects of love, sex and loneliness," she said.
As for Fielding's tackling of parenthood, Jordan noted: "We've been reading this sort of thing for years in countless slummy-mummy columns and books."
The reviewer saw Fielding's work becoming less a satire on modern life than "a good old Jilly Cooper."
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is published on Thursday (10th).