Jonathan Cape, part of Vintage, today (11th October) published Bridget Jones's Baby, a prequel to Mad About the Boy, in what is the 20th anniversary year of the original diaries.
The book, based on Helen Fielding’s original columns in the Independent newspaper, formed the premise for the film currently showing in cinemas, starring Renée Zellweger as Bridget but notably substituting Hugh Grant's Daniel Cleaver for straight man Jack, an American played by Patrick Dempsey.
The book's plot takes off when Bridget finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at the 11th hour with one important question to answer: is the father honourable human rights lawyer Mark Darcy or "charming, witty, notable fuckwit" Daniel Cleaver?
Fielding commented on the timing for the novel, a prequel to her 2013 novel, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, that "it wouldn’t be Bridget if it all happened in a straight line". It also follows Fielding’s 1996 bestselling novel Bridget Jones’s Diary, and its 1999 sequel Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason. All three novels have been published in 40 different countries.
Fielding said: “I’m thrilled to see Bridget Jones’s Baby born today between the sheets of a new novel, and very appreciative of the midwifing of Jonathan Cape and Vintage.
"I’d been working on the material for a long time: first in the newspaper columns and then in the screenplays for the movie. Last year I found myself writing a letter from Bridget to her son: explaining, from his own Mum, how it all began. That rather suddenly and unexpectedly – not unlike Bridget’s pregnancy – grew into a novel.
"The story takes place before the most recent novel Mad About the Boy. And of course books usually come out before films. But then it wouldn’t be Bridget if it all happened in a straight line.
"Just as the early books were about the gap between how people feel they are supposed to be, and how they actually are; this one is about the gap between how you think your life is supposed to turn out and how it actually does.
"But as Bridget says to her son 'if you just keep calm and keep your spirits up, things have a habit of turning out all right – just as they did for me'.”