TV & Movies
The 'Bridgerton' books vs show have some key differences
14 Differences Between Bridgerton And The Books It's Based On

The Anthony-Kate-Edwina love triangle was created for the show.

by Ani Bundel and Meguire Hennes
Originally Published: 

Bridgerton, like The Queen's Gambit, is the adaptation of a historical novel. But unlike the other hit Netflix series, Bridgerton is not based on one book, but rather a series with nine titles, all told. Although Season 1 of the Netflix show is technically based on the first book in author Julia Quinn's series, The Duke & I, it is also an ensemble piece, pulling threads from several of the novels to round out the rest of the characters. Season 2 was based on the second book in the series, The Viscount Who Loved Me, but there were still changes to plot lines and character inclusion throughout the eight episodes. That means there are quite a few differences between Bridgerton the show and the Bridgerton books.

Warning: Spoilers for Bridgerton Season 1 and 2 follow. Some of the changes in Bridgerton from page to screen are updates so the 20-year-old novels are more aligned with modern times. The original Quinn books, for example, are "default white," which means readers generally assume all the characters are white (to the point of never even mentioning their race). That makes creating a show with a far more inclusive and diverse cast very easy; it also allows the series to be far more modern than most Regency Era-set romances.

That also goes for adding in LGBTQ+ characters. Like most mainstream romances written around the early aughts, the Quinn books are default heterosexual monogamy. The series adds an entire bohemian art scene to upper-class society (which is historically accurate, but not in the books) to remind viewers that LGBTQ+ people have always existed in society and found ways to express themselves.

The show’s producer, Shonda Rhimes, has revealed that she intends on having at least eight seasons to match up with the eight siblings. As of September 2022, Season 3 has begun filming and Season 4 has been officially renewed. Who’s to say the upcoming seasons will match the storylines already revealed in Julia Quinn’s iconic series?

Here are 14 of the biggest differences between the books and the show:

Queen Charlotte And King George

Two notable additions to the Bridgerton cast that do not appear in the books are King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte. But they are somewhat historically accurate additions.

Most fans of period pieces are used to a world where everyone cast is white, but for Queen Charlotte, that would have likely been inaccurate. Historians agree Charlotte was of African descent, from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House. She married George in 1761, not long after he became king. She was from a tiny German duchy, so Prince Friedrich as her nephew is also historically correct.

By the time the show takes place, in 1813, George was dealing with mental illness. Bridgerton suggests it was dementia, but historians believe it was more likely to have been bipolar disorder.

Simon's Stutter

In the show, Simon is presented as no longer having the speech impediment he had as a child. In the books, not so much.

In the books, most of Simons's early miscommunications with Daphne after they are married come from him storming out of the room, lest he stutter in front of her. (It's also part of why he doesn't want kids, because he's worried they will be like him.) Part of their happy ending comes from him finally trusting her enough to let her see all the sides of him and her letting him know she loves and respects him for who he is.

The Boxing Subplot With Will Mondrich

In the books, Simon doesn't talk around people because of his impediment. It works to his benefit in society because everyone thinks he's just mysterious and haughty. But it's also why he doesn't get close to people. Anthony likes him because, after living with eight siblings, it's great to have a friend who doesn't interrupt.

By leaving out Simon's impediment as an adult, the show has no explanation for him not having any friends. So, it adds an entire boxing subplot and his pal Will Mondrich to make him seem less like a loner. (Also, it gives everyone a reason to take off their shirts.)

Anthony's Relationship With Siena

Speaking of Anthony, his whole relationship with Siena is not a significant plot point in the books; it is a full-on expansion of an otherwise very slender mentioned-in-passing affair.

He does have a relationship with an Italian opera singer when he first meets his match in the second Bridgerton novel. But it's not serious, and she's named Maria Rosso, not Siena.

Benedict's Fling With Orgies And The Arts

If Anthony's story with Siena expands from a few lines in the second Bridgerton book to a whole subplot, Benedict's is really a stretch. In Benedict's story (Quinn's third Bridgerton book), readers learn that the second-eldest Bridgerton sibling likes to draw and is quietly talented.

But, as mentioned above, there's no bohemian artist collective in the books, so there are no orgies, and Benedict doesn't unwittingly sleep with someone's wife.

Mme. Delacroix Doesn't Exist

If Benedict doesn't go to the orgy in the books, how does he meet and date Genevieve Delacroix? He doesn't... because she doesn't exist.

There is a dressmaker in the Quinn Regency Franchise Universe, but she's not in the Bridgerton books much. She appears in another series, in which she's an older woman named Madame Lambert.

Penelope's Crush On Colin

Penelope does have a crush on Colin in the books, but it doesn't come out until later. All the stuff when he dances with her in Season 1 of the show? None of that happens on the page; it's pulled from backstory from Colin's plot in Book 4. Instead, the man who rescues and dances with poor Penelope after the other girls bully her is Simon. (Daphne has a lot of feelings about it. She likes Penelope; she knows Simon's being a good person by dancing with her. But also, she's jealous.)

Marina Thompson's Story

If Penelope isn't crushing on Colin on in the books, then how does the Marina Thompson affair go down? It doesn't. None of that happens in the books. Colin doesn't leave, either; instead, he's just come back from overseas and is settling back in London.

Like Pen's relationship with Colin, the Marina drama is backstory from later books. In this case, it's pulled from Book 5 of the Bridgerton series. That all of this plays out on-screen shows just how far out Bridgerton is laying the groundwork, setting up third, fourth, and perhaps even fifth seasons.

Eloise Chasing Down Lady Whistledown

As for Pen and Eloise's hunt for Lady Whistledown, that's made up. Eloise is 16; she's still in the schoolroom! She certainly isn't being assigned by the queen to find out who Lady Whistledown is.

Although they are friends in the books, the show does a lot of fudging with Eloise and Penelope's friendship to give Eloise more to do. In the early novels, Eloise, like Francesca, is mostly absent, other than in her letters, in which her decidedly feminist bent is on full display.

The Focus On Lady Whistledown

And then there's Whistledown herself.

The series making Whistledown a significant focus is the biggest change of all. That's not to say Whistledown didn't become a mystery for fans to puzzle over as the Bridgerton books went along, or that they didn't get excited when her identity was revealed in Book 4. But in the early stories, she not a mystery everyone was trying to solve. She's simply a plot device designed to push the romances along with her gossip sheet.

But no one puts Julie Andrews (who voices Whistledown in the series) in the plot device corner. And revealing that it's Penelope this early on only makes for a bigger reveal when everyone else puts it together down the line.

Lady Danbury’s Appearance In Season 2

Bridgerton Season 2 reached over 627.11 million hours viewed less than a month after the series’ release date on March 25, 2022. It was clear the new season increased their viewership by thousands — making audiences fall in love with brand new characters, and of course, fresh romances. As fans of Season 2 know, Lady Danbury is somewhat of a mentor to the budding new Diamond of the Season, Edwina Sharma. Along with Kate Sharma, Lady Danbury provides insight to the family on how to behave as a proper suitor for the finest gentlemen of the ton.

However, in the book which Season 2 is based on, The Viscount Who Loved Me, Lady Danbury is barely mentioned. She is only featured at the beginning of the book in passing at a ball she’s hosting. Audiences quickly became obsessed with Lady Danbury’s character in Season 1 — maybe that love is what made her character a more consistent presence in the show’s evolving plot.

Edwina Sharma’s Love Interest

This may come as a shocker, but in the books, Edwina was not entirely surprised nor upset with the marriage of Anthony and Kate. In the show, Anthony, Kate, and Edwina are depicted as this twisted love triangle, which inevitably provides much of the drama. However, in The Viscount Who Loved Me, Edwina senses Anthony and Kate’s affection for one another early on, prompting her to pull back from her courtship with Anthony and opening her up to new romantic connections.

At a house party hosted by the Bridgerton family, Edwina meets Mr. Bagwell and quickly falls for this scholar. As Kate and Anthony’s relationship grows, Edwina reveals to her sister that she knew all along and that she approves of the marriage. Needless to say, there was never a love triangle in the books. After Kate and Anthony are wed, Edwina no longer feels the pressure to financially provide for her family, so she feels free to marry Mr. Bagwell and live her dream scholarly life with her husband at her side.

As nerve-wracking and dramatic as the love triangle between the Sharma sisters and Anthony is on-screen, giving book Edwina a fairytale ending provides readers with more peace of mind. Queen Charlotte does plant a seed at the very end of Season 2, offering to introduce Edwina to her nephew, Prince Friedrich — so maybe fan-favorite Edwina will become Princess Edwina in the next season.

The Featheringtons’ Storyline

The death of Lord Featherington was the plot twist of Season 1. Many readers didn’t see it coming. Imagine a season without the death of the head of the Featherington house. Would it change the way you view the family?

Well, in the books, Lady Featherington is a widow from the start. That means no “Cousin Jack” storyline as included in the series, no selling fake crystals to the other members of the ton, no trying to collaborate with Colin Bridgerton and corrupt the Bridgerton family, and definitely no romance between Lady Featherington and her late husband’s relative.

The Bee Sting

I’m sure all Bridgerton viewers remember that painstakingly sensual scene in Season 2 where Kate is stung by a bee and Anthony is wrecked with worry. Being that a bee sting was the cause of Anthony’s beloved father’s death, it’s clear he holds some trauma around the appearance of the winged creature. In the show, the two are having a passionate conversation in the garden when Kate is stung by a bee on her chest. Anthony immediately comforts her, worried that she will have the same fate as his father. The books still have a bee sting scene, however, it’s much more... electrifying.

In The Viscount Who Loved Me, after Kate is stung, Anthony fervently pulls down the top of her bodice, revealing her sting and begins to suck out the venom from the sting. While sucking at the venom, the two are spotted in quite a compromising position by Lady Bridgerton and Lady Featherington. Because they’ve been spotted, much like the Duke and Daphne, Anthony and Kate are forced to be wed. Thankfully they’ve already developed feelings for one another, so marriage is not a burden.

Many long-time fans of Bridgerton hoped this more explicit scene would be included in the show, but unfortunately the show-runners opted for a tamer version of the bee sting scene — one that continued with the “will they, won’t they” plot adapted early in the season.

Bridgerton Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix now.

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