Bridget Jones returns but fans aghast about fate of Mr Darcy
Bridget Jones lives on, counting calories, alcohol units and hair nits but discounting years - 51 though answering to 35. But this is no consolation to legions of fans who have learned some devastating news: Mr Darcy is dead.
Whether he was smothered by a Christmas sweater or died of pneumonia from a wet shirt remains to be revealed when Mad About the Boy is published this month, but the news has been broken in extracts in the Sunday Times magazine.
In the final pages of her last dispatch, more than 10 years ago, the definitive chick-lit romantic hero - dark, handsome, rich, funny, clever, devoted - proposed to Bridget. Alas, while the marriage did produce little Mabel and the nit-infested Billy, the couple did not live happily ever after.
In extracts from the new book, the third volume of Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - the first two volumes of which spawned hit movie versions starring Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth - it is tragically clear that Mr Darcy is no more. Jones is now tracking texts from and "minutes spent obsessing" over her 29-year-old toyboy, Roxter.
Fielding's publisher, Jonathan Cape, said the new book would "give a voice to the more mature, social media-obsessed concerns of the women who grew up with Bridget". But fans were aghast.
"What?? No!" said a grieving Holly Adderley, one of many - including the novelist and former British lawmaker Louise Mensch - who took to Twitter in shock. British TV presenter Anne Robinson added: "Mark Darcy is dead. Bridget Jones is a widow!! This is all too much for a lazy Sunday morning."
Another tweet said: "I really hope this isn't true".
But from the extracts it does seem to be all too true. Jones laments: "Has it really been five years? Oh Mark, Mark. What am I doing? Why did I start all this? Why didn't I just stay as I was? Sad, lonely, workless, sexless but at least a mother, a widow, and faithful to their father."