Featured image by Alexander Crawley \ Retrieved from Unsplash
Bridgerton on Netflix took the world by storm at the very end of 2020 with the first episode being released on Christmas Day. I first watched it at the beginning of January, right after my husband deployed overseas. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it that much, but I was hooked after the first episode. It is like Pride and Prejudice meets Gossip Girl meets 50 Shades of Grey. Scandalous.
Little did I know, this addictive series produced by the one and only Shonda Rhimes is also a book series by Julia Quinn. The moment I learned that I knew I wanted to read the books.
I watched the entire series twice, mainly because there were a few episodes I fell asleep in the middle of as when my husband is away I often fall asleep to the television going. I know, it’s a weird habit and not the best, but I’ve always done it that way!
Then upon hearing that Rege-Jean Page would not be returning next season because the Duke of Hastings doesn’t play a huge role in Anthony’s story intrigued me. I suddenly realized that each book was about a different Bridgerton sibling and I was so unsure of that. It was unlike anything I’d ever read.
Thus began my adventure of reading all eight Bridgerton books. I wish I could say I enjoyed every single one, but the truth is that by the time I reached the last book, Gregory’s story, I was ready to be done with the series.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though.
It was fascinating to read the first book, The Duke and I, and compare it to the Netflix show. This is one of the rare cases in which I believe that the show is better than the book, and I honestly blame the creators… but mainly Shonda Rhimes, because she is a genius and knows how to hook her audience.
I truly believe that if the show had stayed true to the book, it would’ve been a flop.
SPOILERS AHEAD: the main differences this dear reader noticed.
First of all, the Queen doesn’t play any role in the books. She does not give her blessing to Daphne, she does not care who Lady Whistledown is, nada.
Second, there are no Black characters in the book. The Duke of Hastings is described as a white man. I had a feeling before I started reading that this would be the case, as we are talking about England in the early 1800s. I love the diversity of characters in the show and honestly, while I was devouring The Duke and I, Rege-Jean Page was in my head the entire time. I simply cannot imagine another Duke of Hastings.
Third, there are no other side stories in the book. It is only focused on the Duke and Daphne. There is no Eloise Bridgerton trying to unmask Lady Whistledown; no Anthony Bridgerton and his on-again-off-again relationship with Siena; no Benedict Bridgerton focusing on his art and other sinful, scandalous acts; no Penelope trying to keep Marina Thompson and Collin Bridgerton from courting and marrying.
And perhaps, one of the biggest and strangest differences to me: there is no Lady Featherington taking Marina Thompson into her home and under her wing to find herself a husband. I mention this because Marina Thompson does show up in the series, however she is related to the Bridgertons, not the Featheringtons, and she ends up dying. It will be fascinating to see how the writers work that one out.
Still, some things are unchanged.
The storyline of the Duke and Daphne’s story is still the same: Daphne wishes to marry for love and the Duke swears he “cannot” have children.
They end up having children, all named in alphabetical order like the Bridgerton children are.
Penelope is still Lady Whistledown.
Anthony is a rake.
Benedict is an artist.
Collin is sweet and sincere, and travels a lot.
Eloise is witty and smart.
Past Eloise’s story, however, I was in uncharted territory since Francesca didn’t make much of an appearance in the Netflix series, and Gregory and Hyacinth are still children therefore too soon in the series to even think about their love stories.
My least favorite books of the series are…
When He was Wicked was my absolute least favorite. This is Francesca’s story and it was literally hundreds of pages of her going back and forth in the midst of a moral dilemma of having relations with her late husband’s cousin and then deciding whether or not to marry him. Nothing exciting happens. The book has a predictable ending, really.
Second least favorite is An Offer From a Gentleman, Benedict’s story. I was less than ten pages in when I realized essentially it was the Bridgerton version of Cinderella, and I just don’t appreciate unoriginal plots.
Favorites of the series…
My absolute favorite book of the Bridgerton series is It’s in His Kiss, which is Hyacinth’s story. I thought Hyacinth and Gareth St. Clair complemented each other so well! There are plenty of appearances by Lady Danbury in this one, and she is one of my favorite characters. I have a soft spot for sassy older women, I suppose! I was never bored with this book, as it had scandal, mystery, and even sneaking into houses!
My second favorite book is Romancing Mister Bridgerton, which is Collin’s story. It started off slow, but then it picks up, especially after Collin realizes his true feelings for Penelope Featherington and there is plenty of Lady Whistledown drama in it, as well.
My third favorite book is On the Way to the Wedding, Gregory’s story. I loved that one because there were so many plot twists that it kept me on my toes until literally the very last page.
Sadly, the books in the rest of the series were just okay.
The Viscount Who Loved Me (Anthony’s story), An Offer from a Gentleman (Benedict’s story), and To Sir Phillip, with Love (Eloise’s story) were honestly forgettable to me.
Eloise’s was especially disappointing because she’s my favorite character in the Netflix series and I grew so attached to her from the moment she screams, “DAPHNEEEEEE YOU MUST MAKE HASTE!!!!”
I felt like the book didn’t live up to her lively personality.
About next season
The conclusion of season one hinted that we would be focusing more on Anthony’s story next season, however I don’t think it really became real that our beloved Daphne and Simon would take a back seat until it was announced that Rege-Jean would not be returning.
Simone Ashley has been cast as Kate, who is Anthony’s love interest. Truthfully, I don’t know anything about Simone Ashley so I can’t make a comment there. Other new characters that will be introduced is Edwina, Kate’s sister, and Mary who is Kate and Edwina’s mother. We’ve also got Theo Sharpe and a character named Jack who isn’t even in the books so we shall see who this mysterious person is as well!
Next season will definitely go more into why there are so many bees present in season one, something that only someone who has read beyond the first book would know. It will detail Edmund Bridgerton’s story, to include his death.
And of course, I am sure we will all be seeing more of Queen Charlotte, who is such a crowd favorite that there will be a spin off show about her. I am looking forward to that!
All in all, I am excited to see what season two brings. I’m even excited for future seasons because I am curious to see how the creators of the show wrap up some of the differences I’ve pointed out as well as new characters and plots they will introduce as the show goes on.