The ton has been abuzz since the launch of Netflix’s Bridgerton just 8 weeks ago. It is a rare thing for a series to find global popularity so quickly, and This Author deems the success of the show very well deserved indeed. Of course, heads have been turning to Bridgerton’s original source material since its launch: a series of scandalous books following each of the Bridgerton siblings. Whilst the Netflix series was certainly the incomparable of the Christmas season with its unparalleled success, the books leave much to be desired. In fact, some might advise they be avoided altogether, for the magic of the show cannot be matched. It may be unfashionable to say so, but This Author believes nothing but disappointment can be found in the pages of this sordid book.
Lady Katherine’s Society Papers, February 18 2020
In all seriousness I absolutely adored the show and couldn’t wait to be wrapped up in the Bridgerton world all over again, however I found the book fell incredibly flat. Shonda Rhimes has drawn a certain magic out of Quinn’s book, and the addition of inclusive colour-conscious casting has made the 19th Century world of Bridgerton much more relevant and relatable to a 21st Century audience.
Though the book is set 200 years ago, it was written in 2000, which it pains me to say was over twenty years ago. Very much a product of its time, it is painfully clear how much conversations surrounding certain issues have shifted during the last two decades, highlighting how problematic some of the content of this book really is. Of course I am speaking of the issues regarding consent in the marital bed, which have been trivialised and twisted for the sake of drama in the book. Simon and Daphne’s conflict regarding children could (and should) have been handled very differently, and this was a real source of discomfort for me.
The characterisation of almost all the characters felt incredibly one dimensional, and at times I found both Simon and Daphne to be thoroughly unlikeable which was not something I had felt whilst watching the show. I was also incredibly disappointed with the lack of supporting characters, which are a real source of joy in the Netflix adaptation. The book centres almost entirely on the Duke and Duchess of Hastings, and I found myself craving some relief from the turmoil of their dramatic storyline once in a while.
How Shonda Rhimes has managed to create such a brilliantly successful show from such dull and frustratingly written source material is a mystery to me, but I suppose that is the source of her genius. I don’t intend to read the rest of the Bridgerton books, though I will wait patiently for each series to be released year upon year. I can’t wait to find out where this story goes next!