Only a few could predict that the romance of two young aristocrats of the 19th century would become one of the greatest hits of last TV season. The celebrated adaptation of Julia Quinn’s series of Bridgerton novels gave viewers exactly what they needed in 2020: a slightly scandalous and sexy drama with a happily-ever-after ending. Whereas Albert Camus’ The Plague gave us advice during the pandemic, Bridgerton brought the guilty pleasure we were crying out for.
Romance readers had already made Julia Quinn’s novels international bestsellers. This book series is usually listed as a classic of the genre, but they needed Shonda Rhimes’ magical touch (although she stepped back in favor of showrunner Chris Van Dusen) to be able to reach out to the great public.
It happens from time to time: television adaptations can help historical romance to expand its niche of loyal readers, like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. “People look down on romance novels,” says Julia Quinn, “we’re the ugly stepchild of the publishing industry” – although it’s one of the bestselling genres, we must add. The diverse cast of Bridgerton also helped the popularity of the show, with Phoebe Dynevor (Daphne Brigerton) and Regé-Jean Page (Simon Bassett, aka the Duke of Hastings) falling in love and grabbing most of the viewers’ attention.
As a result of the series popularity, it was hard to find copies of the Bridgerton books in Spain as UK publishers rushed out reprints of the novels to satisfy the increasing demand. This success made Julia Quinn enter the top of the bestselling books lists with a novel published twenty years ago, The Duke and I, the first of The Bridgerton’s books.
Bridgerton Books: Everything You Need To Know Before Reading
Bridgerton novels follow the lives of eight siblings between 1813 and 1827 during the British Regency era. Each novel is focused on the love adventures of one of the siblings: Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Daphne, Eloise, Francesca, Gregory, and Hyacinth. Quinn’s intention was to write a trilogy, but increasing reader interest made her expand the story.
The Duke and I was published in 2000 and the series was finished in 2006 after tons of romance, mysteries, gossiping, dancing, and cups of tea. But don’t despair – the Bridgerton universe hasn’t ended. Recently the author published the first novel of a prequel project, Because of Miss Bridgerton. In 2020, Julia Quinn returned to Londoner Regency with The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After. There are already four newer books published and more to come!
How to read the Bridgerton books in order
Although each novel can be read independently, following the order of appearance is highly recommended. By doing so, you can figure out what has happened with all the members of the family throughout the years. Here is the real order of The Bridgerton books:
What to Expect From Bridgerton Season Two, Based on the Novels
Netflix’s first season of Bridgerton follows the first novel entirely, with the addition of some new details and a few early reveals – for example, Lady Whitledown’s identity isn’t discovered until Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Thus it’s natural to think The Viscount and I will be adapted in season two.
It has been quite painful for many having to say goodbye to Daphne and Simon, their love, and their afflictions. But Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest son of late Lord Edmund, is the star now. In season two we will probably find out what happened to Edmund since we have finished the eight episodes without any clue about his death. We sensed it was something especially shocking for Anthony, who suddenly became head of the household. We also sensed he prefers partying over responsibilities, which is somehow problematic in a place where marriage seems to be the ultimate goal for everybody.
After his complicated flirting with opera singer Sienna Rosso, Anthony is determined to find love. Or, at least, a fiancée. A natural match for someone like him could be the most desired young lady of the dancing season, Edwina Sheffield. Nevertheless, Anthony has to convince her older sister Kate that he is a good suitor. For her part, Kate, who has turned 21, considers herself too old for love and doesn’t care anymore about speaking her mind. Firstly, she despises Lord Bridgerton, but as time goes by the feelings between them will change.
What to Read After Watching Bridgerton
Jane Austen’s novels
When talking about Bridgertons, the name of Jane Austen usually arises. Regency period romance and the tensions between modernity and rigid moral rules are skillfully depicted in her novels. If you have already read classics of literature like Pride and Prejudice or Emma, you can pick Lady Susan, The Watsons, or Northanger Abbey to continue discovering her literary universe. On Biblio, you can also find Jane Austen’s first editions and other collectible copies.
Mad & Bad, Real Heroines of the Regency
Bea Koch has written an alternative revision of the British Regency era in Max & Bad, Real Heroines of the Regency, focusing on women who succeeded under their own rules, like Anne Lister, whose diaries inspired HBO’s Gentleman Jack series. Koch’s works remind us of all those women and communities often left in the margins of history: LGBTQ, Jewish, Black women, and those who broke barriers in fields such as Astronomy or Paleontology.
The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love, and Britain Becomes Modern
Author Robert Morrison writes with a focus on how many events of the Regency period have influenced our current era. He elucidates how the economy, the arts, the entertainment, and the social reforms made in this period shape modern society in The Regency Years: During Which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love, and Britain Becomes Modern.
Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
It may not be what we have in mind when thinking about the Bridgertons, but Mary Shelley’s greatest novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, was written during the time of the Regency. She masterly depicts the monstrosity of this period which led to the industrial revolution outbreak and the repercussions that some scientific developments might bring.
Another successful reunion of romance and history, but with a touch of sci-fi. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander has also an increasing community of readers thanks to a popular TV adaptation. She narrates the story of a time traveler, Claire Randall, who walks through a circle of standing stones and vanishes into 1743 Scotland.
Georgette Heyer’s novels
One of the most famous writers of Regency-era romance, Georgette Heyer was a British novelist (1902-1974) who has a prolific production of romance and noir novels. She’s considered the initiator of the genre as it is known nowadays and used to publish one book per year! You can start reading her by The Grand Sophy or Frederica.