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The Biggest Differences Between the Bridgerton Book Series and the Second Season on Netflix

Spoilers ahead!

Dearest readers,

We can hardly bee-lieve it. Everyone’s favorite period drama returned earlier this year with more drama, more twisty side plots, and more focus on another Bridgerton’s scintillating love life. In the year that followed since Daphne Bridgerton became a duchess, many have been tempted to tap into the original book series by Julia Quinn to satiate their Bridgerton thirst, but just how much of the books can you expect to see in the Netflix show this season? Tighten your corsets as we take you through five of the most noticeable differences that we believe Lady Whistledown would surely comment on. Be fair warned, dearest readers, spoilers lay ahead.

That Famous Bee Scene

In the book, that famous bee scene was far more scandalous. Anthony, terrified of Kate’s bee sting due to his past trauma, is caught sucking the venom out of Kate’s chest to prevent her from dying. So concentrated is Anthony that he fails to notice his lips on Kate’s chest. But someone does notice this exchange, and that is their mothers (awkward), who can see exactly where Sir Bridgerton’s lips are. This results in a forced marriage between the two because, in the day and age of Bridgerton, the worst thing one can do is sully the reputation of a woman.

In the show, the bee scene is a bit less scandalous, although still quite dramatic. In response to the bee sting and Anthony’s subsequent panic attack, Kate grabs Anthony’s hand and holds it to her bosom to steady his breathing. Once Anthony calms down, the two lock eyes in a secret exchange that makes clear they have ardent feelings for one another. Unlike the books, their passionate exchange is not witnessed by their mothers.

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The Sheffields and the Sharmas

In the book, there’s no interfamily politics between the Sheffields. Or less of it. In the book, Mary, Kate, and Edwina Sharma are Mary, Kate, and Edwina Sheffield— newcomers from the countryside. Though they are far less esteemed than the Bridgertons, resulting in less attention to their chaperoned status, they are still somewhat affluent, and Kate is still regarded as a young lady in need of a reputation and virtue. There is no need for Edwina to marry to achieve a fortune in the books, but rather just because she, as a young lady, should marry. We can see Eloise’s eye roll from here.

In the show, In the doddering old age of her late twenties, Kate seems to be regarded as a sort of lost cause that is beyond marrying. As a result, Kate can flit where she likes with far less regard for her reputation. This makes sense in the show as she shares no blood connection to the Sheffields, being Edwina’s half-sister from a clerk, and allows us to see far more alone moments between Anthony and Kate than we ever received with Simon and Daphne until post-marriage. Instead of being Sheffields, the show creates an entirely new plot for Mary Sheffield and then sees the Sharma family sail to London from Bombay. The Sharmas’ South Asian culture is interweaved seamlessly into the storyline, and this was definitely one of the changes to the book that worked for the better.

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The Truth About Kate Sharma

In the book, Kate isn’t as abrasive in her defense of Edwina. No, really, we promise. This is partly because, in the book, Edwina is more of a minor character. Although she and Anthony have a courtship, there are no real feelings between the two, and Edwina would rather marry a scholar. Kate is protective of her sister, and Anthony still has to impress her to win Edwina’s hand— falling for her in the process— but everything is understood as being done out of a kind-hearted sisterly duty. Kate is still Edwina’s half-sister, but her father was a Sheffield, and therefore this means she still has some importance in society. This means that while Kate is highly astute, willing to put up a fight, and protective—it never goes beyond that to hurt Edwina as much as she does in the show.

In the show, Kate takes on an almost motherly role to Edwina. This creates conflict with Edwina and makes their actual mother a mute peripheral character. It creates an odd rift between the characters that has been commented on since the show aired but allows Edwina to shine as a character of her own, compared to the books. In the show, it’s explored that Kate protects Edwina to the detriment of them both, allowing Edwina to become a major character in her own right. Although the core love between the siblings remains the same, how it’s explored in the show is entirely different, resulting in different outcomes.

The Discovery of Lady Whistledown

In the book, Eloise doesn’t find out who Lady Whistledown is. In fact, in the books, we don’t even know yet. This harkens back to season one, but in the books, we don’t find out how Penelope uses her pen until book four, which tracks Colin Bridgerton’s romance. Eloise is actually not a huge star of the second novel, as each Bridgerton gets their own book. In the show, however, Eloise gets her own side plot, as does Penelope, who is revealed to be Lady Whistledown at the end of season one. This results in a dramatic season finale in which Eloise confronts her best friend, Penelope, as being the Lady Whistledown. I told you there’d be spoilers!


The Exploration of Trauma

Trauma is explored way more in the books. In the books, Anthony not only has his fear of bees due to his father’s death (which in the books he did not witness but suffers from all the same) but is also convinced he, too, will die young. Teenage Anthony believes that as Edmund Bridgerton was the greatest man who had ever lived and had died at 38, there is no way he could surpass him in age. This sets us up with more of a time constraint on Anthony needing to wed and makes more sense why he thrusts himself into the next social season when he has had no interest before. His logic is introduced on page one: “Anthony Bridgerton had always known he would die young.”

Similarly, Kate fears storms due to her own mother’s passing. In a library scene at Aubrey Hall, unable to sleep, Kate looks for a book to distract herself from the sheeting rain. But as a thunderstorm begins to descend, she panics and hides under a table, where Anthony later finds her and comforts her. She can’t communicate, and when the thunder is over, can’t remember how she got there. It is later revealed that Kate has a phobia stemming from childhood trauma like Anthony. Kate’s mother died when she was three, succumbing to lung disease. Toddler Kate thinks the sound of thunder outside is coming from her mother’s mouth and can’t stop the association as an adult.

In the show, we do get to see how the previous Viscount’s death has impacted all the family, including Anthony’s stilted relationship with them, which is less explored in the books, there is no mention of Anthony’s own fears of dying young, and neither does he really explore or tell Kate about his fear of bees. Although Anthony also stipulates that he won’t fall in love when he weds, much like in the books, it’s implied that this is after his affair with opera singer Siena Rosso, or due to the grief, his own mother had after his father’s death, as opposed to anything to do with how long he will live. Kate, in turn, doesn’t explore her fear of storms. Whilst we see Kate and Anthony finding refuge in the library of Aubrey Hall in episode four, it results in less verbal bonding than the fan-favorite book scene.

The Romance Between Kate and Anthony

In the book, the slow-burn is less slow, but more burn. Kate and Anthony kiss pretty soon into the book, as Kate sneaks away at a Bridgerton house party. She ducks into the nearest room when she hears Anthony approaching and witnesses his flirtation skills on opera singer Maria Rosso (slightly changed from the show). The two then spar much like the show, but it results in an early, passionate kiss, that they both seem to regret…at least, at first. In the show, the slow burn is the hook of the series. We’re kept waiting until episode six, after the proposal and subsequent almost-wedding to Edwina, before we see the pair kiss in the church.

Simon and Daphne

In the book, we see Simon and Daphne as a happy couple, much in love. It’s part of the joy of the Bridgerton series that as we go through the different series, we see snippets of the previous couples and their happy endings. In the show, we sadly miss our handsome Duke, who was played by Regé-Jean Page. Following the first season, Page became a global sensation thanks to his effortless charm and sex appeal. Much to our chagrin, the actor hopped off the Bridgerton wagon to pursue other acting jobs. Throughout this new season, we see Daphne allude to her husband and their happy marriage—even carrying around their adorable newborn—but we do not see any sign of the Duke himself, which is odd. If you want to see the Duke (i.e., Regé-Jean Page), you’ll have to look to the silver screen, where he will be starring in The Gray Man later this year.

Ultimately, we have to say there were far more noticeable changes from the books to the shows this season. This gives us two alternate ways to watch Kate and Anthony fall in love, and it is with you, dearest readers, to decide which tale you like best.