Bridget Jones has been shy from the 'New Releases' pile at bookstores for 14 years now, but in that time (thanks to the popular movie adaptations) her fan base has ballooned to the size of the biggest grandma pants you could imagine. Bridget's creator, Helen Fielding, has managed to alienate a number of these fans in only a few short extracts from her follow-up book to 1999's Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, by killing off Bridget's lover, and eventual husband, Mark Darcy.

In Fielding's newest Bridget tale; Mad About The Boy, it turns out that the chivalric Darcy had died five years prior to the setting of the book, leaving Bridget a widow and a single mother to their two children. The introduction of Mabel and Billy was also new to fans of the book, but it wasn't the thought of kids that had Jones fans screaming into their pillow. The peek into the fictional heroine's life was revealed in an extract published in the Sunday Times magazine this weekend (29 September) and since then, social network sites have been run amok with outcries from disgruntled fans.

A number of people reacted to the news through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Twitter user Anne Robinson wrote, "Mark Darcy is dead. Bridget Jones is a widow!! This is all too much for a lazy Sunday morning," and many mirrored her sentiment, however it was probably the Oxford Street branch of book retailers WaterStones who had one of the best reactions, putting their copies of the Bridget Jones novels into mourning.

Mad About The Boy is out on 10 October and Fielding is due to speak at the Cheltenham Literature Festival next month, where she is almost guaranteed an earful or two from some peeved fans.

Renee Zellweger
Renee Zellweger portrayed Bridget in the films.