Bookshot #162: The Duke and I
Before y'all raise an eyebrow at me: this was homework. Kind of. I'm in the process of trying to write a
very different kind of novel than I've done previously (yes, it's going to be a romance... or at the very least a love story) but having seen two seasons of Bridgerton on Netflix, I was also curious as to what the books were like when compared to the show.
And to be honest: the show is actually a pretty good adaptation of the book.
If you haven't seen Bridgerton: The Duke and I is set in Regency London, where the Bridgerton Family (which consists of Violet Bridgerton and her eight children) begins the process of navigating the social season and the gossip and intrigues of 'The Tonne.' This book is centered on the fourth Bridgerton child and the eldest daughter, Daphne- who is making her debut on the social scene and wants to wriggle her way out of the machinations of her eldest brother Anthony- who wants to secure the best possible marriage for her, so she can somehow find a love match of her own.
When she meets Simon Basset, the new Duke of Hastings and best friend of her brother, Anthony, the two find hatch a plot together: he agrees to 'court' her in hopes of increasing the number and quality of her potential suitors, while she agrees to help him appear 'unavailable' to the rest of 'The Tonne' and thus maintaining his bachelorhood.
Inevitably, as with all such plans, things go awry and Anthony catches the two of them in a compromising situation. He challenges Simon to a duel and Simon is unwilling to potentially shoot his own best friend-- but Daphne intervenes and announces that the two of them will get married. The marriage is secured, it turns out to be Simon's secret past that proves the next challenge, but eventually, they get through that challenge together as well and find the happiness and, more importantly, love that Daphne wanted and Simon didn't realize that he needed.
The Audible version of this book is narrated by Rosalyn Landor and she does an excellent job-- lots of range and timbre that allows her to show off a range with these characters. Lady Danbury and Violet Bridgerton (older ladies) sound their age. The gentlemen (Colin, Anthony, Simon, Benedict) all have distinct notes as well-- I'm probably not the best judge of narration overall, but Landor is super impressive with such a wide ensemble to manage.
The book itself does differ from the series in one important way: the Lady Whistledown of it all is dialled back, considerably. That's not to say it's not there-- there is a reference to a mysterious 'someone' who is writing the latest Lady Whistledown papers, but it's not the overarching mystery of the book. The book also doesn't delve into the Regency of the Regency period as directly as the show does, which is another change I appreciated somewhat- it makes the book feel more complete in a way and certain it was a quick read/listen and the narrative didn't drag.
What annoyed me about the show also annoyed me about the book: Simon's inability to communicate. I know that it's a common narrative trope in both television and literature-- but when the inability of two characters just to sit down and have a frank conversation can be incredibly frustrating when not handled correctly. In real life, as in literature/television, having these conversations isn't always as easy as I want it to be either and for sure, the time period and the relationships between men and women and the power hierarchies involved might explain some of it, but the inability of Simon just to say: "My father treated me like shit and I don't want to continue his line because of it" and to have a conversation stemming from that is frustrating indeed. Daphne, once she figures out why Simon keeps pulling out, takes matters into her own hands in a way that seems way more sketchy in the book than it did in the show-- but again, had he just been honest with Daphne from the start, then they might have been able to work through this.
But then again, it also would have been a very short book.
(In the audiobook version, the chapter numbering was one-off throughout and I just chalked it up to a random error, but as it turned out, Quinn wrote second prologues for all these books and assembled them in a volume for publication, but went back and matched each one to it's appropriate book. So that was a nice surprise.)
Overall: a nice quick listen, it turns out the first seasons of Bridgerton is an excellent adaptation of this book. If you liked the show (and I did), then you'll like the book. My Grade: *** out of ****
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