Bridget Jones and Lara Croft are not two women one would expect to have any points of connexion.
However, as I have continued to read Mad About The Boy, and Easier to Run, a work of fan fiction by Noelle Adams based on Lara Croft’s adventures after the events depicted in the 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider series, one such point has occurred to me.
It is this: that by presenting Bridget as a fifty-something widow, and Lara as a sexually confused heroine Fielding and Adams, who writes under the name Pfangirl are not only writing fine stories but proving the realness of their characters.
I have always felt that the most real characters from any book, play, film or poem are those whom we could imagine in stories beyond the one in which we meet them.
- Could you imagine a story about Charles Ryder that took place after Brideshead Revisited?
- Or a tale of happier times in Medea’s household?
- What about a film in which we see Han Solo and Chewbacca on an off day?
- Or a poem in which the Wife of Bath goes home after her pilgrimage has ended?
If any of these seem credible it is because the characters are good ones; they are more ‘alive’ than those whose presence in any narrative beyond the original work would not work.
It might be argued that neither Fielding or Pfangirl make Jones or Croft any more real than they already were – both stories exist within the worlds that both characters previously inhabited, after all. Thus, Jones remains endearingly (for the most part) emotionally incontinent and Croft is still tomb raiding.
However, Bridget Jones is no longer a thirty-something singleton. She is a fifty year old widow. Mark Darcy is dead. That profoundly changes Jones and the story. The laughs are still there, but the backdrop is completely different: grief, poignancy, bitterness colour everything. These are not emotions that are natural to a Bridget Jones story.
That Fielding is able to introduce them successfully shows that Bridget Jones is a very ‘real’ character, one who can be taken out of her natural habitat without looking absurd.
The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider gave us a Lara Croft at the beginning of her adventuring career. Gone was the accomplished protagonist of the earlier games. Instead, we had a vulnerable, injured and uncertain woman.
Something that the 2013 game didn’t show, at least explicitly, is anything pertaining to Lara Croft’s sexuality. There is space in terms of her relationship to Sam Nishimura for one to say ‘well, she could be bisexual/a lesbian’ but it isn’t obligatory to believe that.
What Pfangirl does is use that space as the metaphoric location for her story.
For the first 20 or so chapters, the idea that Lara is gay, and the consequences of this, form the backbone of the story. Easier to Run becomes, in a way, a meditation on the subject. Indeed, even when the more traditional adventure starts, Lara meets a villain who appears to be sexually attracted towards her.
Like the Bridget Jones of Mad About The Boy, Pfangirl’s Lara Croft is recognisable as the woman we met in the 2013 reboot. She is an intensely vulnerable person, both physically and emotionally. The focus on Lara’s sexuality, however, allows us to see her outside of her normal in-game boundaries. In that way, Pfangirl gives us, as well as what is surely a very personal portrait of Lara Croft, but also the opportunity to see that the young adventurer is a very ‘real’ character.