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Bridgerton series vs books: What did Netflix change about Julia Quinn's Bridgerton novels?

Every adaptation needs to shake things up a bit.

Bridgerton season two kiss
Image credit: Netflix

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While all adaptations need to keep the heart of the source material in mind, the best adaptations try to do something unique with that same material. The Bridgerton series has become such a hit for Netflix because it manages to take the same plot and premise of Julia Quinn’s novel series but deliver it in a unique, modern way. The result is that the Bridgerton TV series has some key differences from its source materials.

We’ll be covering plenty of spoilers for both the Bridgerton books and the Netflix series that they spawned. Also, due to the sexual nature of many of the plotlines, there are some potentially upsetting scenes discussed ahead, including instances of sexual assault and rape.

The cast look very different in the Bridgerton Netflix series

Bridgerton season two screenshot
Image credit: Netflix

The first thing to mention is that there are very few references to the race of characters in Quinn’s novel series. Those who are described are, predictably for the genre, white, which means that the diversity of the cast in Bridgerton is one of the biggest differences from the book. In fact, the Sharma family, who have arrived from India in season two, are called the Sheffields in the books and are from England.

Several characters in the series aren’t in the book

As with any adaptation, many characters are created for the Netflix show that either don’t exist in the books or have barely any presence. These are:

  • Siena Rosso
  • Queen Charlotte
  • Prince Friederich
  • Genevieve Delacroix
  • Henry Granville
  • Lorde Featherington
  • Marina Thompson
  • Theo Sharpe

Because these characters don't play as prominant a role in the books or simply don't exist, you can safely assume that any interaction we see with them is invented for the Netflix series.

Daphne’s first encounter with Simon was very different in the books

During episode one of Bridgerton, Daphne is described as “flawless” and is seen as highly desirable. However, in The Duke & I, which forms the basis of season one, she is largely disregarded by most of the eligible bachelors of the town. When she finally catches the eye of Simon in the book, it is because she has punched Lord Berbrooke due to his advances with Simon intervening on her behalf. In the series, the two meet while Daphne is trying to avoid Lord Berbrooke instead.

Anthony knows about Daphne and Simon’s pretend courtship in the books

As the oldest child of the family, Anthony Bridgerton is very protective of his sister Daphne. In the series, Daphne and Simon manage to keep the true nature of their relationship a secret from everyone while in the books they let Anthony in on the scheme.

Lord Featherington is already dead in the books

Lord Featherington gambling away his family’s fortune is a large part of season one of Bridgerton. However, he is rarely mentioned in the books and has already been dead three years before The Duke & I opens.

Simon still stutters in the Bridgerton books

By the time Bridgerton season one opens, Simon has totally overcome his stutter with the help of Lady Danbury. However, in the books, he still occasionally stutters.

The controversial sex scene between Daphne and Simon was way worse in the books

Simon’s choice not to have children becomes a huge plot point in season one of Bridgerton, especially when his wife Daphne discovers that he has been intentionally avoiding getting her pregnant. As a result, she positions herself so that he can’t pull out the next time they make love. This ventures into some shady issues of consent, but the books don’t allow for any shades of grey in the act.

When the pivotal scene happens in The Duke & I, Daphne waits until Simon returns home drunk and seduces him, knowing he wouldn’t normally consent to the act. This means that she rapes her husband in the book, a change to their relationship that we’re glad they made for the series.

The love triangle between Kate, Edwina, and Anthony is far more explosive in the series

Season two of Bridgerton is largely based on The Viscount Who Loved Me and the central love triangle of the show is lifted directly from that book. However, in the books, Edwina and Anthony never approach their wedding day before he finally admits his love for her sister, Kate. Also, Edwina isn’t particularly in love with Anthony so she isn’t nearly as distraught as she is in the series.

The bee sting scene is far more weird in the books

In the Netflix series, Kate is stung by a bee while she and Anthony stroll through the gardens. This causes Anthony to remember his father’s death due to a bee sting and panic. Kate places his hand on her chest to calm him.

However, in The Viscount Who Loved Me, Kate is stung on the chest and Anthony attempts to suck the venom out of her, which is when Lady Featherington walks in on the pair in a compromising position.

Kate’s accident is changed for the Netflix series

In episode seven of the second season of Bridgerton, Kate falls off her horse while riding through the rain as Anthony chases after her. However, in the book, this accident is due to a carriage that crashes. The intensity of her injury is different as well. In the series, she remains unconscious for several days while in the book she merely breaks her leg.

Season three of Bridgerton is due to change even more

So far, the Bridgerton show has stayed fairly close to the plot of the original books. However, season three is set to change things around by adapting the fourth book in Julia Quinn's series rather than the third. This is to allow Colin and Penelop's story to reach its resolution earlier than in the books. As such, we'd expect several other differences to work their way into the sho going forward.

Whether its the bane of your existence or the object of all your desires (or both), Bridgerton is back. Read all our spoiler-y thoughts on Bridgerton season 3 here, and then delight at a guide to how to watch all of Bridgerton (and the spinoff), an our exclusive interview with the show's costume designer John Glaser, as well as some recommended reads for all Bridgerton fans.

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