LONDON - The world's most famous calorie-counting diarist and heroine memorably played on the big screen by a fattened-up Renee Zellweger is back.
This time, though, and much to the puzzlement and consternation of Mark Darcy's adoring fan base, Bridget Jones is without the object of her lustful and awkward affections.
Darcy has been killed off in Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (Knopf), the third installment in Helen Fielding's best-selling series about a character who obsesses over her age, weight, job and man (or lack thereof). It hits bookshelves Tuesday, after a nearly 14-year break.
Social media reaction to the killing off of Darcy, which was revealed when an excerpt from the book was published in Britain's Sunday Times magazine late last month, has ranged from the furious to the disbelieving. One Twitter user summed it up: "One word for Helen Fielding: why?! #Heartbroken #BridgetJones."
Fielding's response? "Really it's a tribute to Colin (Firth, the actor who plays Darcy in both Bridget films) that he's created this character that people feel so strongly about," she tells USA TODAY.
"I find it touching that people are so involved with Bridget and the characters."
Fielding, who spoke to USA TODAY in a wide-ranging interview about motherhood, technology, why she "loves America," and about Bridget's enduring (but evolving) appeal, has mostly taken this on the chin.
"I have to keep my feet on the ground and not get involved with the reaction. I write something from the heart and then I let it go," Fielding says, adding, with the rising mirth visible in her eyes, "When I told Colin, I did say to him to make sure he was sitting down and that he had someone with him."
Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY