Daphne Bridgerton, fourth of the eight Bridgerton siblings, is thrust into the coming social season, where the whole ton is bustling with the news of the arrival of Simon, the new Duke of Hastings.
Distressed by her eventual lack of prospects and convinced by Simon’s need to escape the vulture-esque eyes of the society mothers, Daphne agrees to Simon’s plan of enacting a facade of being deeply in love.
Surely this arrangement will serve their agenda. But enveloped in their easy friendship, they both silently begin yearning for more.
Julia Quinn takes this fake relationship trope and magnificently embellishes it in a Victorian setting. Simon and Daphne fall into a comfortable alliance from the first scene, and it is so endearing (for the most part) to watch them blossom in each other’s company.
I must admit that I enjoyed the TV series far better than this first book. And there are multiple reasons for this.
Firstly, the “trouble in paradise” is made convincing by the actors. I found that the level of conflict and restraint in Simon and Daphne’s relationship is depicted well in the screen adaptation, whereas it’s almost negligible in this novel. And so the book seems a little deprived of the angst and flavour.
Secondly, Daphne’s mother, Violet Bridgerton, is shown (in the book) to have a one-track mind in terms of getting her children married. A substantial portion of her role in the book has to do with that.
On the other hand, while we do get glimpses of this in the TV show, there’s also the idea that she is a friend to Daphne; she offers solace and comfort.
It’s just these nuances of character and plot that I found to be heightened on screen vs. in the book.
There are quite a few aspects that I enjoyed about this book, and which have convinced me to read the next instalments in the series.
I love what the author has done with the mysterious character of Lady Whistledown. She is a writer who creates something called the Society Papers, in which she passes commentary on the people of the ton. This is widely talked about because gossip and scandal are a crucial component of society.
Moreover, the themes of marriage, wealth, popularity are explored throughout this series.
The one thing that I absolutely detested about the book is the non-consensual act perpetrated by Daphne. There’s no excuse for it, and I was appalled to realise that she doesn’t really feel any remorse for her actions.
I’m glad to know that the remaining books feature other characters and narrate the story of the other Bridgerton siblings.
If you intend to pick up this book, do so before watching the TV series. That might help enhance your reading experience.