What to Expect Based on the Novels

Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

Like any good romance, season one of Bridgerton, Netflix’s adaptation of Julia Quinn’s steamy Regency-era novel series, gave us the happily ever after we were all rooting for. Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, fall for each other, get married, have sex in an inn, have sex in the middle of a picnic, have sex on an easel maybe, have sex so many other places, and happily begin a family together. What more could you want, really? Well, you probably want more Bridgerton and it seems safe to assume that you’ll be getting much more. But since Daphne and Simon’s story wrapped up with an, ahem, satisfying ending, you might be wondering what a season two of Bridgerton would look like.

We can probably look to the books for some clues. There are eight novels in the original Bridgerton book series, each one dedicated to the love story of a different Bridgerton sibling. Season one of Bridgerton mostly followed the first novel in the series, The Duke and I. But instead of sticking to just Daphne’s story, the series pulled elements from other novels to expand the Bridgerton universe. The TV adaptation invented a few of its own characters and storylines so really anything could happen, but if you’ve read the Bridgerton series it’s easy to pick up on some nods to what goes down in later novels. If the show follows the structure of Season 1 and uses the second novel to anchor season two, we’ll definitely be spending lots of time with Anthony Bridgerton, the focus of The Viscount Who Loved Me, as well as continuing to unravel threads connected to the rest of the books. What are those threads and how might they play out on the TV series? Below, find our best guess as to what scandal and drama awaits us in season two of Bridgerton, based on what we know from the novels.

Oh, and like Lady Whistledown, dear reader, this author names all the names — so major book spoilers abound.

Photo: Liam Daniel/Netflix

It’s hard to imagine a world in which Bridgerton doesn’t focus on Daphne and Simon since their love story — and chemistry — was the anchor of season one, but if we’re following the books, their story is pretty much wrapped up. They pop up from time to time, especially when there’s a game of pall-mall to be had, and thanks to a second epilogue added to The Duke and I, we know they go on to have several children. Other than that, there isn’t much meat left to explore. However, don’t fret too much: The series made a bunch of changes and additions to the novels to make them more suitable for TV storytelling, so I doubt they’d ditch Daphne, Simon, and that spoon completely. (Anyone else now start sweating when they open their cutlery drawer? Just me? Okay.) There’s surely lots of drama to mine as the newlyweds mature and their family grows, but it’s still a good idea to prepare yourselves for a few other Bridgertons to step into the spotlight in season two.

Yup, we’re doing bee wordplay now. It seems only right since the final image of the first season of Bridgerton was, in fact, a bee creeping on the windowsill like the deadly assassin it is. I don’t mean to knock bees — we need bees! — but fans of the Bridgerton novels probably gasped with alarm upon seeing that insect pop up in the finale. The late Edmund Bridgerton is mentioned several times throughout the first season — he and Violet’s great love story and healthy marriage set the standard for all of their children — but the show never dives into the details surrounding his death. That’s probably because Edmund’s ghost looms much larger in the second novel, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which focuses on Anthony.

In 1803, Edmund Bridgerton, by all accounts a very present and loving father, drops dead after an allergic reaction to a bee sting at the age of 38. The family is in shock because (1) they haven’t seen My Girl yet and don’t know that bees will ruin your life and your mascara, and (2) Edmund had been stung once before and was fine, but apparently allergic reactions don’t always show up the first time. That tidbit of info is particularly important because the first time Edmund was stung, so was Anthony, and allergies can be hereditary. The fear of bees and the fear of death at a young age follow Anthony around just as fiercely as his grief over his father.

The show has definitely dropped hints to how much Edmund’s death affects Anthony, who had to take over the viscounty his father left behind when Anthony was only 18 years old. (Violet was still pregnant with Hyacinth when Edmund died!) The biggest reveal of both the grief and pressure Anthony feels to live up to his father’s standards is his brawl with Simon after the Duke tells his friend and brother-in-law that Edmund would be “mortified” to see what he’s done as the head of the Bridgerton family. The two of them heading out into a field to maybe shoot one another? Anthony moves on from that pretty quickly. Simon coming at him by invoking his father? That sends him into a boiling rage. If the series does indeed turn a focus to Anthony and the events of The Viscount Who Loved Me for season two, I’d expect us to get deeper into Anthony’s feelings about his father’s death and how that loss has influenced every aspect of his life. Apparently all of the men in Regency London have daddy issues.

Photo: Netflix

I mean, duh. This series is based on romance novels and if people aren’t ripping bodices and burning with passion and declaring their heart’s deepest desires in pursuit of that happily ever after, what are we even doing here? At the end of season one, the eldest Bridgerton comes to the conclusion that he wants to get marriage over with, “remove love from the equation,” and just pick any woman to be his wife. (What a charmer!) In the TV series, he makes that declaration after his heart has been completely destroyed by Siena Rosso, the opera singer he’s in love with but can’t really be with because of dumb class rules. In The Viscount Who Loved Me, Anthony has also decided to completely swear off love and simply make a sensible marriage match, but here it’s less because he’s been gut-punched by love and more because he is haunted by his father’s death. Anthony is certain he’ll die by 38 just like his father and he doesn’t want to complicate that with something like love. Seems healthy, right?

In the novel, Anthony decides he’ll just figure out who the “Incomparable” of the 1814 social season is and marry her, which is just what every woman wants to hear. His plan is immediately thwarted, however, when he meets the Incomparable’s sister, who hates Anthony’s guts. The feeling is mutual and naturally, they fall madly in love. It’s all very Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth Bennet but Mr. Darcy is more of a misunderstood slut than a misunderstood jerk, and there’s 150 percent more descriptions of orgasms.

Oh, this is going to be fun. So who is this Incomparable Anthony Bridgerton is trying to marry, and who is her sister who steals the most eligible rake in the ‘ton’s heart? Meet Edwina Sheffield and her older half-sister Kate. Edwina is apparently drop-dead gorgeous, and therefore every suitor is interested in her, and Kate is … well, at almost 21 she’s getting ancient and also she has brown hair which apparently WILL NOT STAND for some people. Plus, Kate’s prickly and since she assumes she’ll never marry, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She becomes the person any suitor must impress to have a chance at winning Edwina’s hand. Kate is the toughest of critics — which is of course how Anthony and Kate end up bickering and bantering and fighting their desire for one another until they just can’t anymore. The series made Daphne more strong-willed and feminist than she is in the novel, so it’ll be fun to see what the Bridgerton writers do with Kate, who is already those things on the page. It’s really about time Anthony Bridgerton met his match, and he does just that when Kate Sheffield shows up. There’s flirty croquet-like games and carriage crashes and, oh boy, some very steamy countryside hookups.

Photo: Netflix

Sure, we all know that perpetual wallflower Penelope Featherington is the anonymous gossip queen who has upended the ’ton in 1813, but not a single soul, save her publisher, knows her identity yet. It was a gutsy choice for the show to make that reveal at the end of season one. In the novels, readers don’t find out who is behind the scandal sheet until book four, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, which takes place in 1824 — 11 years after Lady Whistledown first shows up (and 11 years after season one of Bridgerton takes place). Let’s assume that since the audience already knows who Lady Whistledown really is, at least a few characters will figure it out sooner rather than later. If the show pulls from the novels, one way characters could be more incentivized to out Lady W is thanks to a monetary reward Lady Danbury offers up to the first person who can reveal the gossip’s identity. It’s a fun plotline to watch unfold, especially when certain characters who are definitely not Lady Whistledown claim to be Lady Whistledown for the money and glory. In the series it seems like Queen Charlotte — who is not in the novels — is much more interested in finding out the truth than any of our other players, so perhaps this reward will come straight from the crown.

There is also the other major character dying to solve this mystery: Eloise Bridgerton seems absolutely devastated when she realizes her theory that Genevieve Delacroix (another TV series invention) is Lady Whistledown is incorrect, so she might get even more tenacious in her pursuits as time goes on. This, of course, will assuredly lead to a gutting confrontation once Eloise discovers that her best friend Penelope has been actively lying to her this entire time. Whichever way the series proceeds with outing Lady Whistledown, it’s safe to assume they’ll be fast-forwarding the novel’s timeline for several reasons (see below!), but most especially because now that we know, it’ll be pretty juicy to watch as other people discover what the ’ton’s most overlooked lady has been up to. Like, can you even imagine what Lady Featherington is going to do? The drama!

What the series plans to do with Benedict remains mysterious to this reader. TV Benedict’s storyline in season one mostly dealt with him getting comfortable bucking the “traditional expectations of society” and pursuing both his art and a relationship with everyone’s favorite modiste Genevieve Delacroix, a tradesperson and not a member of high society. Book Benedict, whose story is the focus of the third Bridgerton novel, An Offer From a Gentleman, also harbors a secret love of drawing that blossoms into something more, and he falls in love with someone below his class. We’ll have to wait to see if the TV series will have Benedict continue his relationship with Genevieve or simply use it as the first instance of Benedict opening himself up to love outside the ’ton in preparation for the arrival of Sophie Beckett. Sophie is the bastard daughter of an Earl who winds up becoming a maid as her story unravels. It’s all very Cinderella. If Bridgerton decides to go all in with the Benedict/Sophie story, I’d expect to see Benedict lock eyes with a mysterious woman at the famous Bridgerton masquerade by the end of season two.

Photo: Netflix

In the novels, Marina shows up in the prologue of book five, To Sir Phillip, With Love. The prologue is told from the perspective of Phillip Crane, who had married Marina eight years earlier, after his brother George, Marina’s loving fiancé, died in battle. Marina suffers from depression and eight years into their marriage, she attempts to drown herself. Phillip saves her, but she eventually dies from the injuries. The conclusion to Marina’s story line in season one of Bridgerton lines right up with Marina’s appearance in the novels, setting her up for what is to be a tragic end. Since the show went to all the trouble to insert George and Phillip Crane into this expanded Marina storyline, it seems as though they would see it through — although perhaps Marina’s suffered enough and they’ll spare her that fate. Really, it depends on where the show is going with Eloise’s story line: Now that you know book five is her novel, you might be able to guess where (and with whom) she ends up in the books.

TV Colin and Book Colin are pretty similar: They’re both charming and flirty and secretly long to be taken more seriously by people. They both use travel as a way to fill a void in their lives. It’s been interesting, however, to see how TV Colin differs from his counterpart in the novels in one major way: Book Colin wants absolutely no part in getting married just yet. He actively avoids it — it’s why he travels so much. That entire story line about Marina breaking Colin’s heart? That’s not in the novels. Book Colin would never. The change makes sense though, since it gives Colin a deeper reason to swear off marriage for a while and a more urgent need to hit the road again. In the novel — Colin’s book is number four, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton — Colin is traveling around and avoiding the London social season until 1824. At the age of 33, Colin’s mother is really hounding him to settle down and even though he’d rather keep up his bachelor life and focus on secretly writing his travel diaries, he begins to see an old friend in a completely new way. Oh, you know the friend. YOU KNOW THE FRIEND. Even if the show does speed up the timeline (or does a time jump at some point), the slow burn of this particular romance is what makes it so rewarding. The show may decide to hold off on fully going there so soon, but come on, we deserve some breadcrumbs, right? We deserve a steamy will-they-or-won’t-they, don’t we?

Amelia J. Bell

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