Is it Too Late to Save Eloise Bridgerton From Her Book Fate?

According to the books, we’ve already met Eloise’s husband, but she deserves better.

Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) reading a book in season 3

Warning: contains reference to events in Bridgerton season 3A

Like a benevolent mama wishing only good things for her pretty babies, I watch Bridgerton wanting happy endings for all. Let Simon fill Daphne to the brim with heirs! May Anthony and Kate travel the world having hot pagoda sex on every continent with a suitable climate! Give Penelope and Colin a lucrative publishing contract each and a carriage of their own in which to manually stimulate one another on night-time rides around Mayfair! Joy and fulfilment for all.

The fate of their book counterpart doesn’t come into it. If there’s a better future out there away from the pages of Julia Quinn’s novels, then have at it, my loves. 

For instance, if TV Benedict Bridgerton decides that no, he won’t abduct, blackmail and coerce his future wife after saving her from a horrendous sexual assault, I say go on, son. Move to the south of France and shack up with a married couple of painters instead. You do you, Benedict, just as soon as the TV show figures out what “you” are.

Ad – content continues below

The TV show already knows what Eloise Bridgerton is. She’s the funniest one. She’s the bookiest one. She’s the one whose mind is an indoor-trapped bird bashing desperately against the window to get at the world it can see but isn’t allowed into – a world in which her brothers are perversely free to flap around on grand tours, at university and in brothels, having saucy threesomes. 

Don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t a case of ‘poor Eloise’ because Eloise is not poor. The Bridgerton family wealth protects her from all manner of indignities suffered on less lucky members of her sex. She doesn’t have to marry for money, status or protection, or to keep a roof over her siblings’ heads. She doesn’t necessarily have to marry at all, unless she so chooses. The question then, is why would this funny, clever, independent-minded Eloise choose the compromised fate laid out for her in the books? 

WARNING: book (and potential future TV season) spoilers ahead.

According to Quinn’s novels, we’ve already met Eloise’s future husband, though not at enough length to discern much about him – which is probably for the best. 

In season two, Colin Bridgerton went to visit Lady Crane, formerly Marina Thompson. Marina was the cause of scandal for her relatives the Featheringtons in season one, when she was revealed to be already pregnant at the time she made her social debut. Had Lady Whistledown not exposed the truth, Marina and Colin would have married without him knowing that his bride was carrying another man’s child. 

Or specifically, another man’s children. Unwed Marina was pregnant with twins by her lover Sir George Crane, who died fighting overseas. His brother Sir Phillip Crane stepped up and married her to save her reputation and legitimise his brother’s children and Lord and Lady Crane are now raising twins Oliver and Amanda as their own. The marriage, as seen during Colin’s visit, is not a particularly happy one. Marina told Colin that she was resolved to leave the past behind, but in her current situation, appears to feel isolated, bitter, and resentful of her husband’s obsessive interest in botany.

Ad – content continues below

Book-Lady Crane becomes depressed following the birth of the twins, and doesn’t improve. Eventually, she attempts to drown herself in a lake, is rescued by Phillip, but dies from complications shortly afterwards. Eloise sends Sir Phillip her condolences in a letter and the two become long-term pen-pals who gradually fall for one another on the page. After exchanging many letters, Eloise (who is in her late 20s by the book timeline) visits Sir Phillip and proves herself a natural with the twins, who are grieving their mother. She and Lord Phillip marry. 

What our season two introduction to Lord Phillip didn’t show is that the book character is deeply troubled, and not just due to his marriage of convenience and Marina’s depression. Cruel treatment by his and George’s father left Phillip traumatised and unable to emotionally connect with poor Oliver and Amanda. He’s a distant, isolated man, and a project for Eloise to patiently fix. 

None of which feels right for Bridgerton the TV show. Marina’s suicide attempt is far too dark for its frothy escapism, and in the Duke of Hastings, we’ve already had one husband traumatised by a cruel father. It’s sad, repetitive, and moreover, not what Eloise deserves. A life spent trying to fix a broken man and his troubled kids? For this impatient, irreverent, mile-a-minute talker? Where’s the justice in that?

In the first half of season three, it’s sad to see what last year’s public scandal has done to Eloise. She lost the battle over Theo Sharpe, she tells brother Colin, and has no appetite for the war and so has joined the winning side. She’s given up on proto-feminist literature and started reading Jane Austen (nothing wrong with that, though one question: are we quite sure she’s cut ties with Sharpe, because she must have some connection in the publishing world to be reading Emma several months before it was published in December 1815?). Now, she wears frills because they’re all the rage, and stands at parties listening to airheads discussing their favourite embroidery stitches. 

It’s a capitulation that saddens you to see. Eloise should be rewarded for her original mind.

Yes, they could explain her marriage to Sir Phillip away as a mature desire for love, sex, companionship and family life, but the character that Claudia Jessie and Bridgerton have created deserves… more. That girl should be standing at the prow of a ship, stubbing out a cigarette and creasing up her hangers-on delivering a punch-line at a bar. She should be studying, debating, lecturing, discovering penicillin, moving things forward! Moving herself forward. Not playing nursemaid and patiently coaxing better behaviour out of a difficult man. 

Ad – content continues below

It’s too late for Jane Eyre, who by rights should have told Mr Rochester in that burned-out ruin to get a guide dog because she was off to start a school for orphans where they don’t die of TB. It’s too late for Emma Woodhouse, who should have told Mr Knightley to get off her back, she’s only 21, and he’s not her bloody dad so stop taking everything so seriously.

It’s not too late for Eloise Bridgerton. Whether it comes in season four or beyond, there’s still time to give Eloise a challenging, dramatic and fulfilling story that doesn’t feel like she’s diminished herself to fit in with society’s limitations. She’s not suited for a future telling the housekeeper which flowers to arrange; she deserves a life of the mind. Joy and fulfilment for all the pretty Bridgerton babies!

Bridgerton season 3B arrives on Netflix on June 13