Recommendation: God no, why would you do that to yourself
Where to read: Hungover af on Boxing Day
Read with: Something to dull the pain
In brief: I loathed this. If you’re going to do it, however, it is a rare case of the television show being undeniably better than the book (in most respects).
Reeling in the wake of an extremely indulgent Christmas Day and the worst hangover I’ve had in years, I found myself prone on the couch for most of Boxing Day and the day following. In such circumstances, watching Netflix’s new costume drama monstrosity Bridgeton seemed like the thing to do. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, awful. It’s marketed as Jane Austen with sex but did we really need a twenty minute sex montage set to a string quartet version of Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams’? Or a theatrical orgy set to a similarly arranged version of Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad Guy’?
Because I am a sucker for punishment, and because I had access to about 5 working brain cells, I subsequently decided the source material might be worth a read. The only things to be said for it are that it is short, that Daphne, our romantic heroine, is at least vaguely more likeable in the book than the show (for the first half at least), and the various irritating side plots are absent. Other than that, it is a truly painful Pride and Prejudice fantasy, complete with a romantic lead who is pretty much a complete dick the whole way through and a heroine with none of Lizzy Bennet’s feistiness or irreverence.
The central plot device of the novel is pretty much the trope – fake dating Regency style. This continues on for some time until the protagonists, surprise surprise, fall in lust with each other, with predictable consequences. You would think things would improve (or at least end) when they finally get hitched but, alas, no. We are instead treated to several chapters of abysmal marital communication which culminates in her sexually assaulting him. This sets up the tension for the last third of the novel which is resolved by, astoundingly, him deciding that he was in the wrong and apologising, with nary a moment of reflection on her part.
If you’ve got to do it, watch the TV series, but surely there’s a pretty man to ogle in something that’s at least slightly decent.