Are you done mourning for Mark Darcy yet? Many fans of the ''I like you very much just as you are'' Austen-inspired hero are no doubt still dabbing their ducts after hearing Helen Fielding announce on the talk-show circuit that she'd killed off Bridget Jones' bloke. In Mad About the Boy, the third installment in the diary writer's series, Bridget now a 51-year-old mother of two and struggling screenwriter stumbles her way back into the dating world four years after her husband's death. She's replaced her journal entries about cigarettes and alcohol with unglamorous accounts of lice and the like.
Without spoiling much, Bridget falls for a boy of barely 30 whom she refers to as Roxster (his Twitter handle). So she ditches her brood with Daniel her former bad-boy lover and now the children's godfather and embarks on some mind-blowing sex with @Roxster, which she describes with Fifty Shades of Too Much Detail. They also talk a lot about flatulence. One page has no fewer than nine references to passing gas.
Halfway through this 386-page fairy tale, it becomes clear that Fielding thinks we love Bridget unconditionally. And we very nearly do. Hearing Bridget dissect wardrobe choices (''a brand chillingly called Not Your Daughter's Jeans''), parenthood (''Why can't everyone just F---ING SHUT UP AND LET ME READ THE PAPERS''), and exercise (''Usually love Zumba...stomping angrily like horses, transporting one into a world of Barcelona or possibly Basque-coast nightclubs, and fire-lit gypsy encampments of undetermined national extraction'') feels like visiting with your funniest friend. But there are too many pointless subplots, as well as a movie-ready ending that will seem predictable to anyone who can spell ''Ephron.'' I too like Bridget very much, but her adventures need to be 100 pages shorter. And a little less gassy. B-