The Duke & I (Bridgerton #1) Book Review

I love that Shonda Rhimes took on this series and pulled it right into the 21st century for Netflix. It’s Gossip Girl meets Jane Austen but Rhimes’ colourblind casting and her ability to use this series to discuss race and gender (which aren’t really mentioned in the book) is fantastic. I’ve only seen one episode of the series so far, but to me it seems like Rhimes has taken Quinn’s work and just MADE IT BETTER. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book, I did, but let’s just say there are a few moments that made me feel uncomfortable which probably owes to it being published over 20 years ago. To choose just one of these moments (I won’t say who as this is a spoiler-free review) a woman speaks of how she has sex with a man while he’s sleeping and it makes her feel powerful because she has control… I know…let’s not trivialise rape please. Quinn was clearly trying to show this character gaining confidence but did not choose the right way to do it at all.
By cherry picking the best parts of the plot, casting brilliantly, and elevating side characters by giving them larger roles, the show not only includes a racially diverse casting but also strong feminist figures and themes too. Simply put, Rhimes has elevated this book way beyond its impact in print. I do want to read the other books, but I know for sure that the show is going to be more enjoyable and I’m so glad it’s been given a new lease of life in this format.

“To say that men can be bullheaded would be insulting to the bull.”
Title: The Duke & I (Bridgerton #1)
Author: Julia Quinn
Type: Fiction
Published: 2000
Pages: 433
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’re aware of the Bridgerton series on Netflix. I was intrigued and thought I’d watch the first episode, but when I saw people saying the books were just as great, I thought why not read them first and then see what the show’s all about! The Duke & I is book 1 in a series with 8 in total. Set in nineteenth century London, the book is narrated by Lady Whistledown during ‘courting season’ in London. All the rich families are parading round their eligible children, hoping they’ll catch the eye of other bachelors and bachelorettes. The family at the centre are the Bridgerton’s, whose eldest daughter, Daphne, has just come of age and so must now find a husband.
To be perfectly honest, there’s not much plot in this book. Knowing what the Netflix show is about, it sounds like they’ve combined multiple books for it, and I think the books would be more interesting if they were telling more than one story too! That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book (I devoured it in about 2 days) but retrospectively, there wasn’t all that much substance. Daphne and Simon are fun to watch as a couple, but the peripheral characters don’t get much of a look in at all!

6.4Lustful, Fun, Antiquated

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Review overview




Like I said before, I do think the book suffered a little from being out of touch (it was published in 2000 which (this may be shocking) was over 20 years ago!?!?) Simon and Daphne for the most part have a loving relationship, but there were moments where he was brutish in a way that made it hard for him to be likeable, even with his reasonings! I loved the drama and gossip of the book, and its definitely a great escapism with witty humour and frivolous activities from just about all the characters, but the antiquated traditions (which are not presented in an ironic format) along with a lot of casual sexism means I really think the show is the book’s saving grace…

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