'Bridgerton' season 2 vs book: what are the biggest differences?

When it comes to 'Bridgerton' season 2 vs book series, how faithful are the new episodes?

Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte in episode 207 of Bridgerton
(Image credit: Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Bridgerton is back for a second season and this time we are focusing on no other than the eldest son, Mr. Anthony Bridgerton played by Jonathan Bailey.

The whole Netflix show is based on the popular Bridgerton books by Julia Quinn. Season one was based on the first novel in the series, The Duke and I, and Bridgerton season 2 takes after the second tome, The Viscount Who Loved Me.

The novel, like the series, follows Anthony Bridgerton (played onscreen by Jonathan Bailey) who decides it's time to settle down and fulfill his family duties as the Bridgerton heir by finding himself a wife. However, even though dear Anthony is a viscount and a Bridgerton, his road to finding a suitable bride isn’t that simple, as he initially sets his eye on the beautiful Edwina (Charithra Chandran) only to be thwarted in his attempts by her sister Kate (Simone Ashley).

But even though the Netflix series is based on the book series, the TV program doesn't always stay true to what's on the page. In fact, there are a lot of changes both big, such as the Sharma family's background, and small, such as the infamous bee scene. 

The author herself, Julia Quinn, admitted to The Metro at the Bridgerton season 2 premiere that “there’s almost nothing that’s word for word” from the books in the Netflix TV adaptation. Here are the major differences from page to screen.  

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

'Bridgerton' season 2 vs book differences:

1. The Sharmas' Name And Background 

The most apparent difference from the books is that the Netflix series changed Kate and Edwina’s family name. In the books, they are the Sheffields, hailing from the English countryside, but in the show, they are the Sharmas, arriving from India, which is the first way the show represents Kate and Edwina’s South Asian heritage authentically. However, a reference to the Sheffields is made through Lady Mary’s maiden name, which we find out in episode one. 

We find out in the first episode of season two that Lady Mary, Edwina and Kate’s mother (played by Shelley Conn) fled the country to India to marry a man of a lower rank who already had a child. The child—yes, you guessed it—was Kate and the only reason the family returned to the Ton was that Lady Mary’s husband was now dead and they were effectively destitute. Mary’s family promised that if Edwina married of English nobility they would provide her with a dowry and Mary with some money. 

In the book series, this storyline doesn't exist. Lady Mary's parents aren’t mentioned, as even though they are not the richest in society, they are not dirt poor either and so there’s no need to put stipulations on who Edwina must marry so she can ensure she has a dowry. Nor is there a necessity for the Sharmas to become the wards of Lady Danbury (played by Adjoa Andoh) for the season. However, it is understandable why Netflix made this change, as it allows the Sharma family to link more to the existing Bridgerton world. 

2.  Kate Sharma’s Age 

In the books, Kate in Bridgerton is classed as a spinster at the tender age of 21. However, the series ups the age to 26 (which in our opinion makes slightly more sense). In both the TV series, Kate’s age and also her commitment to finding Edwina a husband has her strongly opposed to marriage. (In the book she isn’t so outright opposed to marriage, but she doubts she’ll find a husband in London, instead preferring the country.) 

For more intel on the ages of everyone in the Ton, check out our "How old are the Bridgerton siblings?" guide. 

3.  Eloise Starts Her Season 

The Bridgerton book series by Julia Quinn is ordered by Bridgerton sibling—the first installment followed Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and the second Anthony—and Eloise’s story is not until book five, To Sir Phillip, With Love. This means that in the books, readers don’t get to read about Eloise’s season in the marriage mart until then. 

However, in the opening scenes of Bridgerton season 2, we see Eloise preparing for her season and her presentation for Her Majesty in which her family hopes for her to become the Queen’s diamond. This is not that big a shock, as the show is now known to fans of the books for having multiple storylines going on at once and picking bits out of other books to present earlier as they did with the revelation of Lady Whistledown

However, it will be interesting to see how Eloise debuting in society in season two will impact her story and whether it means the show is setting fans up for the fact they are going to be veering away from the books.

4. The bee scene

For fans of the book, the bee scene was one of the most anticipated moments of the Netflix series and while it delivered emotionally, it also didn’t stay faithful literarily and here’s how.

Episode three features the highly anticipated scene where Kate gets stung by a bee in front of Anthony and he freaks out because the Bridgerton son is traumatized from his father dying young from a bee sting. The series downplays the moment as it only leads to Kate placating him by taking his hand and placing it on her chest to show that nothing is going to happen to her and Anthony then realizes the same and runs off. This is completely different from how the scene goes down in the books.

In the book, the moment is much more intense, as it delves into Anthony’s deepest fears and traumas, so much so that he attempts to suck the bee venom from Kate’s chest. Did we mention that, in the book, the bee stung her quite close to her breast and that at the very moment Anthony is doing all of this, Lady Featherington (a.k.a. the Ton’s biggest gossip) walks out and witnesses all of this? Kate and Anthony’s mothers are also there and due to societal rules at the time, it means Kate has been compromised. Anthony, the dutiful man that he is, agrees to marry Kate so she is not ruined in society and to prevent a scandal.

The closest we got to this scandalous moment this season was Lady Featherington attempting to have a group of women discover her own daughter in a compromising position with the new Lord Featherington so that he would be forced to marry her (his cousin!) so they wouldn’t be thrown out of their home, but that’s a whole different story for a whole different time.

5.  Anthony’s fixation on time 

The Netflix series brushes over Anthony’s fixation on time due to his father’s death at a young age, which, in the books, is why Anthony refuses to marry for love. The series makes slight hints towards this fixation by having Anthony keep checking his pocket watch but chooses to chuck out that the reason Anthony does not want to marry for love. It's because he believes he will die early at 38 like his dad did and so he is focused on making sure his legacy continues after his death. 

6.  Anthony, Kate and Edwina Love Triangle 

Edwina and Anthony’s relationship plays out very differently in the TV series than in the book. In the series, the two end up engaged and it’s at the alter that Edwina realizes that Anthony loves Kate and vice versa, which causes Edwina to call off the wedding. 

In the books, none of this ever happens due to the way the bee scene plays out. This means there was no scandal with the Bridgertons due to a broken engagement, nor did Kate and Edwina have a row. In fact, Edwina was happy for her sister because she had wanted to marry a scholar but couldn’t due to the pressure on her to marry rich. In the series, Edwina plays a much bigger role as the adaptation creates a love triangle.  

7. Kate's riding accident

In both the books and the series, Kate has a serious accident. However, the circumstances surrounding this on-page and on-screen differ. In season two, Kate has a horse accident, which puts her in a coma. In the book, she has a carriage accident while out with Edwina and her suitor. She breaks her leg but is never in a coma. It's also the moment that Anthony realizes he loves Kate and, regardless of his fears of dying young, he is not going to live in fear. They are also married by this point in the books.  

8. Kate’s Fear Of Storms 

The series kind of brushes over a lot of Anthony and Kate’s individual trauma and in the case of Kate, it completely gets scrapped. While the series does allow Kate and Anthony to bond over the grief from losing their fathers. Kate’s mother is not mentioned at all, even though it is mentioned that Lady Mary is Kate’s stepmother.

This means that Kate’s entire backstory and her debilitating fear of storms and her reason for it is cut out. In the books, the storm moments are vital moments for Kate and Anthony’s relationship as well as Kate’s backstory, as Kate’s mother died when she is a young girl during a rainstorm and the incident leaves Kate with some unresolved trauma that she relives every time there is a storm. 

9. The Office Scene 

Another moment from the books that fans were looking for but didn’t get was the scene where Kate hides under a desk in the Bridgerton office when it is thundering outside due to her fear. This moment happens before the bee sting but brings Anthony and Kate closer together, as it creates a vulnerability within Kate in the books.  

10. Eloise discovering Lady Whistledown's identity

It was revealed in season one that the author of the Lady Whistledown gossip column was none other than Ms. Penelope Featherington, played by Nicola Coughlan. This revelation is very different from the books, as fans don’t find out who Lady Whistledown is until book four, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, which is Penelope and Colin’s book. 

However, the show sets it up from season one that Eloise Bridgerton, played by Claudia Jessie, is going to find out the writer of the infamous gossip column's identity as we see her fixated on putting together all the pieces of the identity puzzle, all the while having no idea that it’s her best friend Penelope who’s actually the town's biggest gossip. Eloise even liaises with the Queen at one point in order to find out the identity of the esteemed secret author but ultimately fails in finding out. 

By season two, the queen accuses Eloise herself of being Lady Whistledown to the point she tells Eloise to admit to being the author or risk her social standing. Penelope, knowing the author's true identity, tries to protect her friend and writes a column damaging Eloise’s reputation by associating her with radicals and feminists to prove it’s not her. 

As you can expect, this completely backfires and badly affects Eloise and the rest of the Bridgerton clan. But that’s not even the juiciest bit, as after talking to Penelope, Eloise finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together and discovers Penelope’s identity as Lady Whistledown. This leads to the two long-time BFFs having a row that seems to be the end of their friendship. Here’s to hoping they resolve it in Bridgerton season 3!

Liv Facey

Liv is a freelance journalist currently studying English at university. She loves covering everything from entertainment and politics to lifestyle and travel. As well as writing for My Imperfect Life, Liv has bylines in The Times, HuffPost, Den of Geek, Bustle The Metro and The Bookseller.