Since its debut in December of 2020, Netflix’s Bridgerton has become one of the world’s most consumed TV shows. Filled with stunning costumes and sets, palpable tension between love interests, a well-rounded cast of characters, interwoven storylines, regency era court machinations and politics—with a modern twist—and most importantly, the inclusivity and representation, it is no wonder that the show has solidified itself as a mainstay of television.

But where did the inspiration come from?

The source material for the adaptation comes from Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton book series, with each novel following one of the eight Bridgerton siblings. Following the popularity of the screen adaptation, fans of the show flocked to the series, unable to get enough of Quinn’s characters in either format.

As an avid reader who often scours the internet in search of recommended reads, I found that the books were soon everywhere. Now, I will admit that if there is a large hype around something, I tend to try and stay away from it. Sometimes however, I eventually give in just to see what everyone else is talking about. This was definitely the case with the tv show last year as I quickly became hooked. It was only after the release of Bridgerton’s season two last month that I began to wonder, as I often do: what about the books? It was because of this question, that I decided to see how season one of the adaptation held up to Quinn’s novel, The Duke and I.

I will start by saying that my favourite thing about Netflix’s adaptation is, as mentioned above, the inclusivity and representation that is featured in the series. I acknowledge that, as a white woman, I cannot begin to fathom what it means to people of colour to see themselves represented on screen in a manner they might not have witnessed before (I am referring to the articles written by South Asian women in reference to Kate, Edwina, and Mary Sharma). However, upon starting The Duke and I, the very first thing that became apparent was that Quinn’s novel was more historically accurate. Meaning, the nobility are white, which is apparent upon the descriptions of the characters, and is maintained throughout the course of the book. Whilst I understand Quinn was being accurate to the regency era and the society at the time, I much prefer what the creators of the TV show executed.

There were a few things that did surprise me the further I got in the novel. Firstly, The Duke and I focuses more on the development of Daphne and Simon than anything else. Whilst this does make sense, as it is about their love story, I was expecting for there to be more of the societal machinations that are present in the TV show. I mean, what’s not to love about a regency era Gossip Girl? (a comparison only strengthened by Lady Whistledown’s character). The only glimpse of societal input is what directly affects the relationship between Daphne and Simon.

 In saying that, one element of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed was how the two main characters are presented and interact in The Duke and I. I found that the book version of the characters are more humorous and engage in more banter than their TV counterparts. Whilst the adaptation does incorporate this to an extent, the longing and tension between Daphne and Simon is played upon more in the show. However, by mainly focusing on the couple and their interactions with each other, the reader is only offered a glimpse of other characters around them unless they are in a scene with the Duke and Miss Bridgerton.

Other than these main points, I found that the adaptation follows the source material quite accurately. It will certainly be interesting to see if the other books in the series helped shape the characters as they are presented on screen.

But which version did I enjoy more?

The show, hands down. I will admit this is a first for me, as I’m usually quite critical of book to screen adaptations (Harry Potter, I’m talking about you), and as a result, prefer the original. But the saying “there’s a first time for everything,” as cliché as it is, is around for a reason, and is certainly the case with Bridgerton.

 

 Have any Bridgerton thoughts, opinions, feelings, or debates? I would love to hear them! Reach out via the Opus socials (@opus.unsa) to let me know.

 

Phoebe Barsi

Phoebe Barsi

Hi, I’m Phoebe and I’m a contributor and columnist for Opus! I like writing about the creative arts with a focus on anything book related. When I’m not studying, writing, or procrastinating, you’ll find me either reading, plotting, talking, or thinking about books!

Phoebe Barsi

Hi, I’m Phoebe and I’m a contributor and columnist for Opus! I like writing about the creative arts with a focus on anything book related. When I’m not studying, writing, or procrastinating, you’ll find me either reading, plotting, talking, or thinking about books!