Bridgerton Season 1 made significant changes from the original novel, the show stayed true when it came to Daphne and Simon’s story and all its messy glory. But the differences between Bridgerton Season 2 and The Viscount Who Loved Me are far starker. Warning: All of the spoilers for Bridgerton Season 2 follow, and quite a few from the book as well. The Viscount Who Loved Me introduces arguably one of the best heroines in all of author Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton universe, Kate Sheffield. At age 28, she’s a veteran of the wallflower scene, having not secured a husband during her debutante years due to her father’s passing. The family lives in genteel poverty, which puts a lot of pressure on Kate’s younger sister, Edwina, who has just reached marriageable age, to find a wealthy husband. Edwina is all the things Kate is not: demure, obedient, and innocent. She’s determined to marry well to support her widowed mother and spinster sister.
But there’s one wealthy suitor Kate will not allow to court Edwina: Anthony Bridgerton, a notorious rake she knows has been breaking women’s hearts across London for a decade. But Anthony is determined to get himself engaged to Edwina, despite how attracted he is to Kate... until a compromising position forces him to marry the older sister anyway.
It’s a pretty simple story, yet the show makes major changes to it. Let’s dig into all the big differences.
01 The Sharma Family’s Story
Making Kate and Edwina South Asian and
changing their last name from Sheffield to Sharma is only the tip of the iceberg. On the show, the Sheffield surname belongs to Kate and Edwina’s mother, Lady Mary. Mary’s parents holding money over the family is new, as is the stipulation that Edwina must marry a titled Englishman in order to receive an inheritance from her grandparents. In the novel, Edwina’s drive to marry well is all about her desire to do her duty to her family.
That the Sharmas recently came over to England from Bombay is also new; in the books, they’ve been in England all this time, though it’s their first London season.
02 The Featherington Subplot
Kate’s family isn’t the only thing the show overhauled. In the books, the Featheringtons are not significant figures, except Penelope. Her sisters unsuccessfully flirt, and Lady Featherington is a walking plot device, a blabbermouth who sees things she shouldn’t, forcing characters to deal with things they might otherwise not.
But the Featheringtons have much bigger roles on the show. Having offed Lord Featherington in Season 1,
Bridgerton Season 2 introduces Jack Featherington as another conniving family member and engages him to Prudence in what feels like a twisted take on Downton Abbey’s Matthew and Mary romance. Thankfully, the season also disposes of him neatly while allowing Lady Featherington to regain financial stability. 03 Benedict And Colin’s Stories
Speaking of Lady Featherington, Marina is also a holdover change from Season 1. Although Marina does exist in the
Bridgerton books, she never actually appears in person, and Colin never fancies himself in love with her. The whole addition of his awkward visit and meeting Sir Philip never happens, either.
Colin’s failed romance and his dalliance with investment schemes are all added fodder for the show, as is Benedict’s enrollment in art school. These stories are fleshed out to fill out the ensemble, as is Will’s new gentleman’s club, with subplots leading their characters to the place they are when their turns for romance finally arrive (likely in Seasons 3 and 4).
04 Lady Danbury’s Prevalence
Longtime readers of Quinn’s books know Lady Danbury is the thread tying the novels together as a single regency universe, but she’s only ever a passing face. In
The Viscount Who Loved Me, Danbury appears twice: once to arch her eyebrow at Kate’s engagement to Anthony and then later to tell Anthony she approves of his wife.
But one does not cast Adjoa Andoh to do a three-line walk-on. Making Danbury the Sharma women’s sponsor puts her center of the action, and also gives a window into who Lady Mary used to be before she left society in favor of true love.
Did I just say Kate’s engagement to Anthony ? Dear Reader, I did.
In the book, Anthony never asks Edwina to marry him. Instead, he finds himself accidentally betrothed to Kate in a bizarre set of circumstances: The series stays true to
Anthony’s fear of bee stings, having watched one cause his father’s demise. Instead of Kate sensually calming Anthony down like she did on the show, when Kate is stung in the book, he lunges at her and tries to suck the poison out of her, ahem, décolletage. At that moment, Ladies Featherington, Bridgerton, and Mary walk by and witness the compromising position. In order to save Kate from being “ruined” (because women simply could not hook up before marriage, or even appear to), Anthony decides to marry her.
That means the wedding at the halfway point of the novel is not for Anthony and Edwina, but rather Anthony and Kate. And unlike Anthony and Edwina’s wedding on the show, the one in the book goes off without a hitch. As for Edwina, is her heart broken like it was on the show? On the contrary. When Kate comes back to the house, half-hysterical over being forcibly engaged to the guy her sister wanted to marry, Edwina is like, “Girl! Bullet? Dodged.”
06 Mr. Bagwell/Theo Sharpe
One of the biggest changes from page to screen? Edwina doesn’t love Anthony in the book. She is already in love with a second son who is a scholar and printer, a character named Mr. Bagwell.
But there was no Mr. Bagwell in Season 2. Instead, Netflix seems to be treating the QCU (Quinn Cinematic Universe) in keeping with how the MCU plucks characters from the comics and
wholesale changes their stories to fit a new scenario, or creates new characters based on other characters’ backstories — or both. Mr. Bagwell, for example, seems to be embodied in the show by one Theo Sharpe, also a scholar and printer who becomes the love interest of a side character.
In the books, Mr. Bagwell isn’t a significant figure, except for one plot point. He’s not a rebel who prints progressive newspapers; he’s just a geeky laborer Edwina falls in love with. (Lady Whistledown doesn’t notice him at all.) But by the books’ end, he is Edwina’s intended, whom she can marry in the security of knowing Kate’s marriage will support their family.
But the series changes it up so the scholar/printer character becomes Eloise’s first love and the reason she gets involved in scandal. A very different romance indeed.
All of Eloise’s story with Theo is a change from the book. Like her brothers, Eloise’s Season 2 story also sets up where she will be when her main character arc finally finds her. But where Benedict and Colin’s stories are gentle, Eloise’s doomed romance with Theo is a punch in the teeth. The Bridgertons throw a whole ball, and nobody comes because her dalliance with Theo was
exposed by Lady Whistledown. Turning her into a social pariah by the person she believed was her best friend is rough stuff.
In the book, Mr. Bagwell’s one crucial plot point is the carriage ride through the park that he takes with Edwina and Kate in an ill-considered bid to impress the new Lady Bridgerton so she will think him worthy of her younger sister. Except the horses escape his control. It’s the 1814 version of a car crash without airbags, seatbelts, or windshields.
One of the subplots of the book, which Season 2 ignored, is that Anthony believes he will pass away at the same age as his father. Part of why he doesn’t want to accept his true love for Kate is because “she doesn’t deserve to be a widow.” So, thinking she perished in the carriage accident, he digs out her body from the wreck, sobbing hysterically and proclaiming how much he loves her.
Unlike on the show, Kate’s not in a coma in the book. Her leg is just broken and she’s wide awake — but doesn’t open her eyes right away because, well, would you?
09 The Pacing Of The Romance
Most mainstream romances — think Disney princess flicks and rom-coms — follow a formula: Couple meets, falls in love, is separated, gets back together, marries, the end. That’s not how Regency romances work, though. Because the couple typically cannot sleep together until marriage (again, antiquated social norms!), the wedding often happens at the halfway point in Regency-set stories. The back half of the book is about the couple struggling in their marriage.
Bridgerton’s first season was remarkable because it stayed true to that rigid formula and made it work. For Season 2, the show went far more mainstream by forcing Kate and Anthony to stay apart until the very end of the series. We even got a premarital love scene! 10 Lady Whistledown’s Reveal
In the book, Eloise does not uncover Lady Whistledown’s identity. However, this change corrects a significant issue from the novels.
Quinn did not invent Lady Whistledown as a mysterious figure by her own admission. The character is simply a plot device in The Duke and I — a way to convey important background information without boring the reader. But Quinn discovered readers were wild to know who the mystery scribe was. More importantly, Quinn initially planned for the Bridgerton books to be a trilogy, stopping with Benedict. So when starting Book 4 with Colin, she unmasked Penelope as Whistledown and then got on with the romance. By the time readers get to Eloise in Book 5, Lady Whistledown is yesterday’s story, and Pen is left without a satisfactory reveal scene.
The series has fixed that. And fans will be on edge to learn how this affects even more changes from the next book in Season 3.
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