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Helen Fielding On Bridget Jones: Still Looking Good At 51

Helen Fielding says she wanted to explore a common predicament: getting older, finding yourself single again, and having to deal with a changed dating landscape.
Alisa Connan
Helen Fielding says she wanted to explore a common predicament: getting older, finding yourself single again, and having to deal with a changed dating landscape.

Who could forget that slightly manic — but ever so endearing — single gal looking for love in London: Bridget Jones. From her first diary entries in 1996, to her portrayal on the big screen in 2001, to her most recent ramblings in this year's Mad About the Boy, we've gotten to go inside the mind of Bridget Jones and see the truth, the whole truth about what it's like to be a woman most definitely now not in her 30s.

The woman behind the diaries, Helen Fielding, tells NPR's Rachel Martin that Bridget now appears — at least on the outside — to have grown up a bit. And yes, as you've probably heard by now, her dashing Mr. Darcy is no longer. "I was quite surprised by the scale of the reaction, certainly in Britain, to Mark Darcy's death," Fielding says. "I was watching the news one night, BBC, and there's the Syrian crisis, and then, next story was headline news: Mark Darcy's dead!"

Interview Highlights

On writing about a situation many people find themselves in

They are single again, and they are a bit older, and the dating landscape has completely changed, and they have to get out there again. And when Bridget was single before, there was no email, even — all those messages she sent to Daniel in the office about 'you appear to have forgotten your skirt,' and things, were just an archaic office messaging system. So Bridget's now back out there dating, dealing with texting, with Twitter, with online dating, and with children — and with the fact that, you know, life is busy and complicated, and you're juggling work and all these other things, and that seemed to me to be a very rich area to write about.

On Bridget's age

The first novel, I didn't say how old she was, I left it vague. And I was going to do that this time, and then I thought, I'm just going to dare to do it. I'm going to say that she's in her 50s. Because I think that just as when I wrote the first Bridget, the 30-something spinster, as she was then called, got such a bad press, that hadn't caught up with what was really going on. You know, Bridget felt in some part of her brain that she was Miss Havisham, and she was going to end up dying alone and being eaten by a dog, just because she hadn't got a boyfriend when she was in her 30s.

And I think there's the same sort of thing going on with idea of the woman in her 50s, that she should somehow be staring morbidly at a lake, or knitting, and have a tight grey perm and a shopping trolley. Whereas in fact, what I see around me is it's the same — women are still looking good, still dating if they're single, still feel the same inside ... there shouldn't be this outdated notion of 'a woman of a certain age,' which in itself is a patronizing thing to say, and never applied to men.

On whether there will be more Bridget

All I do know is, I won't write another book unless I've got something I really want to say. I mean, I do think one thing that could be quite funny — but it wouldn't really work — to write about someone becoming a celebrity would be funny, because there's so many things, even when you're on a book tour — I remember when the first Bridget Jones book became successful, coming back to my flat in London, and there was a photographer on a motorbike outside. And I was wildly indignant, and why can't they leave me alone! It's intolerable! But then it was a pizza. Domino's delivery man. And I was really disappointed ... that's quite a rich seam, too. But I don't think it's right for Bridget. Maybe.

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NPR Staff