Here's How Bridgerton Season 3 Differs From the Book

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first four episodes of Bridgerton Season 3

Bridgerton, the popular Netflix period drama series, is based on a book series by Julia Quinn, in which the eight Bridgerton siblings find their love matches in Regency-era England.

There are major differences between the show and books. The Netflix series ups the ante for the drama considerably, and picks and chooses which of the books' characters to include, which to leave out, and how to tweak their personalities to maximize audience investment in their outcomes.

Here are the major differences between Season 3 of the show, the first half of which is now on Netflix, and the book it’s based on, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, the fourth novel of Quinn’s series.

Read more: Everything to Remember Before Watching Bridgerton Season 3

The order and timing

The third season follows the romance of Colin Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington, and as many readers have pointed out, Benedict’s love story actually comes next in the book sequence, not Colin’s. As showrunner Jess Brownell told Entertainment Weekly, “We've been watching (Penelope)’s crush and seeing how oblivious Colin is to it. That's a dynamic that you can only play out for so long before something has to change. This really felt like the right time to lean into what's been set up with them.” Besides which, the show’s version of Benedict still has a few things to figure out before finding his match.

Colin and Penelope’s love story also happens about 10 years after the events of the first few books. Penelope is 28, considered a spinster in the England of 1824, and has long since given up on finding love, let alone a husband. There is no plot to find her one in the novels, but she does ask Colin for a kiss as she believes she’s destined to die alone. That sets him on a journey of realizing that she’s been his dream girl the entire time.

The Queen

Golda Rosheuvel, left, in <i>Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story</i><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Golda Rosheuvel, left, in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton StoryCourtesy of Netflix

Golda Rosheuvel's fabulous portrayal of the temperamental Queen Charlotte is a boon to the show, but the queen doesn’t appear at all in the books. Adding her to the series was a great decision on the creators’ part, however, introducing a foil to Lady Whistledown as a powerful, influential woman who is known rather than one whose identity remains a mystery. Her presence also increases the drama because Queen Charlotte does not like the competition over who has more societal sway.

Lady Whistledown’s scandal sheet and big reveal

In the books, the pseudonymous Lady Whistledown’s gossip newsletter isn’t half as scandalous as it is in the show. The bits of Whistledown’s paper revealed in Quinn’s novels are relatively tame and don’t reveal any major scandals about the Bridgerton or Featherington families. They are quickly dealt with without much, if any, societal oversight. The scandal from the second book, An Offer From a Gentleman, is the one that could actually be a serious problem, but that too is arranged to fly under Whistledown’s radar. The reader also doesn’t know that Penelope is Lady Whistledown until the fourth book, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, which covers her and Colin Bridgerton’s love story, whereas the show makes this reveal at the very end of the first season.

Read more: Breaking Down the Bridgerton Family Trees

The Featherington finances

The Featheringtons aren’t having any major money issues in the books. Lord Featherington is still alive and there is no Cousin Jack. Lady Featherington is not scheming about anything but marriage matches for her daughter. Nobody’s in debt, and there’s no drama about the title.

The Featherington daughters

Bridgerton. (L to R) Bessie Carter as Prudence Featherington, Harriet Cains as Philipa Featherington <span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Bridgerton. (L to R) Bessie Carter as Prudence Featherington, Harriet Cains as Philipa Featherington Courtesy of Netflix

Speaking of the Featherington daughters, the book version of Penelope has a younger sister. Her name is Felicity, she’s about the same age as the youngest Bridgerton sister Hyacinth, and Lady Featherington wants to try and match up Felicity and Colin. She has given up on Penelope at this point. Penelope tells her mother that Colin looks at Felicity like a little sister, and later when Colin realizes what Lady Featherington is up to, he says the same thing. Felicity is cool with this and understands why the plot is abandoned, with no hard feelings.

The older two Featherington daughters, Prudence and Philippa, aren’t so much cruel as they are just…not very smart. Also, Nigel Berbrooke is married to one of them, and unlike in the show, he’s not a slimeball in the books—he’s just annoying.

The mean thing Colin says

Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Season 3<span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton in Season 3Courtesy of Netflix

At the end of Season 2, Colin tells some gentlemen at Penelope’s mother’s ball that he’d never court her. Penelope overhears him and runs off. In the books, he tells this to his older brothers Anthony and Benedict—which feels so much worse, given her relationship to them.

In the show, Colin doesn’t see that Penelope has overheard him. But in the books, the three brothers realize that she’s heard them and they all apologize. Book Penelope finally conjures up some backbone and tells him off right then and there.

Francesca’s courtship with John

The books don’t really cover Francesca’s courtship and marriage with John Stirling, Earl of Kilmartin, who appears in Season 3, at all. That’s mostly spoken about in hindsight. Her book, the sixth in the series, titled When He Was Wicked, is about finding a second love in life. The show is beginning to explore that concept with the arc of Francesca’s mother, Violet, and perhaps this will be something that the two bond over in the future. Book Violet, meanwhile, doesn’t try to find a new companion.

Eloise, entirely

Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton in <i>Bridgerton</i><span class="copyright">Liam Daniel—Netflix</span>
Claudia Jessie as Eloise Bridgerton in BridgertonLiam Daniel—Netflix

Eloise’s debut season isn’t explored in the books, and while she is and remains Penelope’s best friend, there are no fights in their relationship on the page (and there is absolutely no circumstance in which the book version of Eloise starts hanging out with Cressida Cowper, as she eventually will onscreen). While as curious as any of London’s elite about Lady Whistledown’s identity, she goes on no illicit capers to track her down—in part because Whistledown hasn’t said anything that bad about their families in the books. When she does find out that Whistledown is Penelope, she is only mildly surprised and offers congratulations. But that could also be because she’s preoccupied with other things when she learns about the secret.

Colin’s journal

Penelope reads Colin’s journal in both the book and show, but under different circumstances. The first difference is that in the books, there is no deal between the two of them to help her find a husband—she’s just over at Bridgerton house early before meeting Eloise, and her boredom and curiosity get the better of her. The second difference is what is written in the journal. In the show, it’s a rather steamy account of Colin’s sexual escapades and something a Regency-era debutante should never lay her eyes upon. In the book, it’s an account of his travels. Honestly, show Colin should be more ashamed of himself for keeping his smut open for anyone to read. What if his mother—or nosy kid sister Hyacinth—saw it?


The shadow of Penelope’s revelation that her cousin Marina is pregnant out of wedlock (ostensibly to save Colin, who has proposed to her, from the humiliation of finding out later) in the first season hangs over the show. But in the books Marina is entirely different. First, she’s a Bridgerton cousin, not a Featherington one. Second, there’s no plotline about her getting pregnant and trying to find a husband. In the book, she appears only in passing through letters and memories from her husband, Lord Philip Crane. Book Marina is described as having been incredibly depressed, and as having attempted suicide, dying shortly afterwards due to complications. Lord Crane is left alone with their twins who he doesn’t know how to raise. It remains to be seen how the show will handle its own Marina.

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