Dear reader, do not go forward unless you want to be spoiled as I’ll be referencing the series and the books.
I stayed up until 3 a.m. the other evening to mainline Bridgerton S2. I started on the opening weekend only to know enough about myself that I would need to piece it out in small bits as a treat so I wouldn’t overdose before work was done.
Oh, how I have failed myself.
But it does not matter, I have finished the series (and read six out of the eight books and two of the prequels.) So, I have some thoughts.
How close is the series to the book?
The general plot is kept. The Viscount needs a wife, sets his eyes on the diamond of the season, Edwina, only to find himself at odds with her sister who must grant her approval for the marriage to take place. (Nod to Taming of the Shrew and Pride and Prejudice.) The story of Edmund Bridgerton’s, the patriarch, death is also here and used to explain, just like in the book, why Anthony is the way he is.
It’s the standard enemies to lovers trope which I adore.
It’s super clear the producers have read the entire series as plot elements from future books are layered in. Benedict, in his story, has a passion for art which he keeps secret from the family. In S2, it’s his main plot. Sir Philip Crane and Mariana are here who are from Eloise’s story. Colin, the writer, who is also secretive about his art is his main plot. Penelope being unmasked as Lady Whistledown does not happen until Colin’s story and then it is not by Eloise but by Colin.
Where is the Duke of Hastings?
The series keeps pretty true to the book in this regard. Simon only shows up once or twice in The Viscount Who Loves Me when they are playing Pall Mall. People complaining of the lack of Regé-Jean Page have clearly not read the book.
In fact, the spouses take a backseat in the future stories. While they are referenced, as well as their children (they breed like rabbits), it’s all very much just that; a reference.
What is not part of the books?
Lady Featherington, the loss of the famiy funds and the grifter Lord Featherington is not present. Colin doesn’t invest in the scheme presented by Lord Featherington. The character Will Mondrich (boxer, gentlemen’s club owner) does not exist. Colin is not in love with Marina Thompson, who doesn’t show up until Eloise’s story and as an afterthought. There is no snubbing of the Bridgertons or the Danburys and the wedding does not occur. Eloise does not come out to the ton (that I recall) but it is in her story we learn she has had six marriage proposals. There is no Theo (Eloise’s Bloomsbury boy toy). Eloise also does not unmask Lady Whistledown and her fight with Penelope does not occur. When Penelope hears Colin remark he would never marry her to his friends, it was actually to his brothers and Anthony walks her home after that stinging remark; she does not weeps and leave. The relationship between Penelope and the modiste, Genevieve Delacroix, does not exist. Lord and Lady Sheffield and the marriage contract also does not exist.
Are all the Bridgerton’s here?
Yes! Except for Francesca who is in the opening scenes when all the Bridgerton’s are hovering around Eloise’s door. After that she disappears. She’s always been the quieter of the clan but I did not think they would purposely leave her out but here we are! In her story, the clan take a deep backdrop to her love story as it is set mainly in Scotland.
I heard there was less sex in S2 than in S1. Is that true?
Yes and no. In the first episode, we’re greeted with Anthony’s delectable arse, Benedict draws a nude model and gets naked himself and has sex with the model, and there is the love scene of Anthony and Kate under the moonlight sky in the garden. And lastly, there is the epilogue of Kate and Anthony having hot and heavy sex before they go and enjoy Pall Mall.
There’s a couple of things going on here. One, Julia Quinn is good for at least two very detailed sex scenes per book. AND WOMEN GET THEIR PLEASURE I MUST ADD! This does not includes kisses. Could there have been more sex in this season? Sure. But it’s more or less on par with the book.
The second is that during the Regency era, women of status did not randomly go have sex with men or were even caught alone with them in the library for their reputation would be in tatters. I know, I know. This is Netflix, their bottomless pot of money, and 21st C. However, there is a lot of longing, deep sexy stares, and hand flexing as well as the “omg are they are aren’t they going to kiss?!” moments which Quinn describes quite well in the books and were played out really well here.
Anything from the books that were missing?
The one thing that disappointed me is the brief mention of Kate’s fear of storms. In the books, there is a scene where she is so spooked out, she’s in the library under the table trying to keep her shit together. Anthony finds her and holds her through the storm as he realises Kate is just as human as the rest of us. We find out in the book that Kate’s mom died in a terrible storm when Kate was a wee babe and has been afraid ever since. This is also a good plot point that helps describe who Kate is and why she is so brave. The brief mention was disappointing.
In the books, Eloise is a writer of many things to her family, cousins, and friends near and wide. While she is highly intelligent and very outspoken, she’s not the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft demanding women have the right to vote and there should be equity for all. I did, however, like this about her in the series even if it is not true to the books.
Edwina is presented as knowledgable about her looks but she treats it as an after thought, “Oh, I’m beautiful. So what?” She’s actually quite studious and wants a man who will discuss philosophy, literature, and the natural sciences with her. Of course, this type of man tends to be poor and just as it is common in the era, she must marry rich to keep the family afloat. In the series, Edwina is translated as a well accomplished woman of her own mind and soul with Daphne commenting to Anthony she is perfect. But perfection does not necessitate passion and love. I liked how they presented Edwina here coming into her own and making a stand for what she wants herself to be even if it is not true to the book.
And the music?
Oh yes, string versions of “You Outta Know” and “Material Girl” are perfect.
You’ll see nods to BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Sense and Sensibility, Taming of the Shrew, and of course Bridget’s Jones’ Diary. The most talked about scene will be Anthony coming out of the lake ala Darcy in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, and Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones’ Diary. There is also nod to the hand flex from Pride & Prejudice.
Overall, I would give this an 8/10 because nothing is ever perfect. Netflix has renewed the series for three and four and as there are eight books in the series, I hope each of the clan get to tell their stories. Bridgerton is a nice palette cleanser during a world of chaos and horror. Plus the books are divine. It’s a lovely world to wrap yourself up in. Enjoy.