Book Review

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn

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Title: The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After
Author: Julia Quinn
Publication Info: HarperCollins Publishers 2013
ISBN: 9780061233005
Genre: Historical: European

Book The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After costs $9 at Barnes and Noble.  That's the sale price.  And you know what really burns me up?  The ending of Violet in Bloom, the very novella that I bought the damn book for, was a total let down.  I am so annoyed.

By now I've read so many books about the Bridgertons and their friends and their thirteenth cousins three times removed that they all blend together.  I remember liking all the books, but I'll be darned if I can remember what happened to which Bridgerton.  But I always have fond thoughts for Violet, the mother of all these crazy people.  I bought this book, which contains mostly previously published material, with one goal:  to find out what finally happened to Violet Bridgerton, best Regency Mom ever.  I can't explain how I feel about her story without spoilers, so watch out.

I'm going to back up a little to explain the book.  This is a collection of mostly previously published 2nd epilogues about the Bridgertons, with one new story about Violet.  The Bridgerton series is a series of loosely connected, stand-alone Regency romance novels.  There are eight Bridgerton siblings and they each get a novel (eventually there are novels about their friends but that's not relevant to this particular book).  Violet is their mom, and as she has brought up eight children, mostly single-handedly (she's a widow), she has a devoted fan base among readers.

If you buy this book thinking that it's all new, you have only yourself to blame, as it says “Contains Previously Published Material” right on the cover.  In the introduction Julia Quinn is quick to warn the reader that most of these little stories don't make sense unless you've read the book that the story takes off from.  There's an epilogue for each of the eight Bridgerton novels plus the story about Violet.  Only a tried-and-true, experienced Quinn fan will want this book, since each epilogue contains spoilers, almost by definition.

Each epilogue has a nice introduction by Quinn.  Actually, these little introductions were my favorite parts of the book.  For one thing, they reminded me of what the deal was with each sibling.  And the stories were cute.  Not deeply moving, not profoundly satisfying, not worth the on-sale price of $9, but cute.  From this point on, I'd say this whole review is a spoiler  – so to sum up for the spoiler-adverse: the book is fun and light and funny but not earth-shattering and not something I'd normally spend this much money on.  Don't want to find out about Violet?  Then stop reading here.

Now we get to Violet in Bloom.  Violet fans have waited for YEARS to find out what happens to Violet.  You know what happens?  SPOILER:  Nothing.  I mean, of course she has a great life with kids and grandkids all running around all the time but there's no romance.  She dances with one guy, but finds him nice but dull.  And to make it worse, you have to watch her first meet Edmund Bridgerton as a boy, and then fall in love with him, all the while knowing that terrible things are going to happen, and then they do happen, and while you're still wailing with grief you realize that actually that's pretty much it.  Violet learns to smile again, she enjoys her family, and that's her story.

Look.  I believe that it is possible to live a happy, fulfilled life without a romantic partner.  I would even sort of like to read more stories in which some people are happy with romance and some people don't need it.  Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie is a great example of how to do this, with one couple being happy, in love, and childless by choice, one couple being happy, in love, and having babies, and one character pretty much permanently, and genuinely, enjoying life as a single woman.  But all the Bridgertons have found true love.  Why can't Violet find it twice?  It's a frickin' Romance Novel series, for crying out loud!  It just feels wrong to have her permanently stay the perfect widow.

We need more role models of independent women, but in this story I don't feel like Violet is that role model.  It feels more like she's stuck in this widow role, forever.  And Violet is too tough a woman to be stuck.  So I'm mad for her.  The collection is fun, and moving, and is a great asset for Bridgerton fans who want to have all their books lined up on their bookcase.  The cover is very pretty, if a little relentlessly Disneyesque.  But if you are looking for Violet's happy ending I don't think you'll walk away satisfied.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    lisa says:

    Akkk!  I can’t see the spoiler!

  2. 2
    CarrieS says:

    Put the mouse over the spoiler and drag – if you dare!

  3. 3
    MissB2U says:

    I was going to buy this but now, not so much.  So thanks for helping me spend my ebook budget wisely.  I was thinking about it on the way to a musical performance that had a rough start.  As I prepared to endure rather than enjoy my mind wandered back to this book.  Which made me think about Bridgertons, then BAM!  I started grinning like the village idiot as I pretended to be at a Smythe-Smith musicale.  It was so flipping fun I can’t even tell you.  And I clapped really hard at the end, which confused the hell out of my husband who was all “what the hell is with you?”  I would have killed for some watered down punch after.

  4. 4
    Merrian says:

    Spoiler doesn’t highlight on touchscreen phone or tablet

  5. 5
    Anne says:

    On a tablet or phone: highlight the blank area and copy it.  Then paste into a compose email window and you’ll be able to read it.

  6. 6
    Rachel says:

    My trick (recently discovered) for reading spoilers on my iPad is to tap the “reader” button in the browser bar.

  7. 7
    lisa says:

    Oh, thanks, carrie!  I dared and I see it now!  Personally, I’m not surprised.

  8. 8
    Dawn says:

    I agree – I was still sad about Edmund when the Violet story ended. I did re-read the series so that I’d enjoy reading all the second epilogues again together, and that definitely made a difference for me.

  9. 9
    Marina says:

    In all fairness, Julia Quinn discusses all these things about the book in her website, ao I think most readers were forewarned. I realise that one cannot take for granted that buyers will read the author’s website, but this book was intended for die-hard fans of the series anyway.

  10. 10
    JOHNNY RAY says:

    While some books do retell a certain amount of a story from previous books, in many great books the reader often wants to discover one more level of what happened. I think in the movie industry that this is why the behind the scene look is so popular. It makes me wonder if such, a behind the pages book, would be so well received.

  11. 11
    kkw says:

    I have both epilogue and Bridgerton fatigue.
    I’m ok with violet not moving on, her not moving on is kind of her main personality trait, along with trying to micro manage her children’s lives, but I suppose boundaries really weren’t a concept at the time. Anyway. I just don’t get the point of the epilogue in general anymore, and certainly not in this instance.
    Possibly it’s just sour grapes because my library apparently doesn’t have nine dollars to shell out for it either.

  12. 12
    Emily A. says:

    Spoilers abound read at own peril

    I never really liked Violet as a character. I think she is too bossy and not particularly special. I never got why she had so much appeal as a character.

    On the other hand, I would have to seen her find love just to find someone who proves she is more than just her uterus and baby-making parts. I was really annoyed in The Viscount Who Loved Me, she tells Anthony “I told him I couldn’t have more babies after this one. (i.e. Hyacinth, with whom she pregnant with). I think it killed him.”(not exact wording, but close) She has seven children. According TVWLM, they had a child who died young and who is never mentioned again. She is also pregnant. It really made mad to hear Violet thinking her husband wouldn’t want to live after her uterus stopped working. In the same way it made me mad to hear the Supreme Court justices discussing two fifty-five year olds getting married!

    “The cover is very pretty, if a little relentlessly Disneyesque.”
    The whole series is little relentlessly Disneyesque.  Despite the death of the father,  everything is pretty rosy Bridgerton world. A family of over 30+ people and there are only two deaths of any real significance.(To be fair my own extended family has had some similiar good luck,  but still) I would not say Violet has lot of hardship, considering all eight of her children, and eight of their spouses and all of her grandchildren are alive healthy. (As far I as know) Anyone dealing with the death of a child in this book? Francesca did lose her first husband, but found love again. Everyone is married and everyone is happy.

    Come to think of it this reminds me of something like Disney on Ice a show I went to when little. They would read something about a movie like Beauty and the Beast, and then Ice skaters would act out scene from the movie.
    What did you think of the individual epilogues? Were you ok with how they ended or did you want more?

  13. 13
    Laura says:

    (There may be spoilers here, but I’ll try to keep away from that.)

    I was in the mood for something light, a pick-me-up, an aperitif of a book and I thought this would be perfect!

    And then I read about Georgie and Simon helping with that. And then Francesca’s heartache each month (and I liked the nod between both Francesca and Daphne ticking off days on a calendar to keep track of things). And then Lucy and it brought up the memories of my children’s births.  And the stories were still the delightful stories I’d wanted, but some were hitting me deeper than I expected.

    And then I read Violet in Bloom. And I bawled.  I don’t know why.  There was one scene in particular where she’s talking with her other daughters after Hyacinth’s birth that started the sniffling and then there was a scene where she was looking over the family and full-out-messy tears started.  And my husband is asking for my help in getting our daughter in her pajamas and I yelled, sobbing, that I couldn’t help right now, I was enjoying my book, which led to the biggest WTF? face he’s ever given me.

    So, in short, I do agree, that I wanted something different, to see something more, this definitely stuck a chord in me.

  14. 14
    Marina says:

    Emily A., what Violet says has absolutely no resemblance to what you mentioned. What she actually said was:

    “I told him this had to be our last,” she gasped, sobbing onto his shoulder. “I told him I couldn’t carry another, and we’d have to be careful, and…Oh, God, Anthony, what I’d do to have him here and give him another child

    It’s just Violet being overcome by grief and wishing her husband alive at any cost. There is not even reason to believe Edmund was unhappy with her decision; for all we know, he may have agreed with her. He adored his wife and he may well have not wished to put her through the danger of childbirth again, especially since they had eight children already and she was not young anymore.

  15. 15
    Sarah Y. says:

    Personally, I’m not too surprised. I remember once reading an interview that Julia Quinn gave that she did not think that she could ever write another (love) story for Violet. I’m glad I didn’t buy the book and I’m not sure why Ms.Quinn would dangle the idea of Violet finding a second chance of love to her readers or perhaps it’s because we all love Violet so much that we wanted her to have a second happily ever after.

  16. 16

    Spoilers follow, for both Violet’s story and The Duke and I.

    Frankly, I’m not surprised by the wrap-up of Violet’s story. The entire Bridgerton series is so packed full of Traditional Family Values that it is entirely in keeping with the tone of these books for a female character to be defined only by her uterus and her unfailing devotion to her One (dead) True Love. The theme of children as the ultimate source of meaning for life (especially for women) is pretty prevalent in these books. I read several of them, and I was starting to get a little annoyed by the relentless babies-ever-after endings, but The Duke and I absolutely killed it for me. There is no going back, not to the Bridgertons, not to any Julia Quinn novel. I don’t have enough time to waste it on books that make excuses for rape and victim blaming.

  17. 17
    theo says:

    I love the Bridgertons. I enjoyed every story and when I found out she was writing epilogues, I devoured those too. I got the first two she did as freebie downloads a long time ago. I have to say, I loved, loved the croquet match! I laughed through the whole thing almost to the point where I had trouble focusing on the words. I’ve since bought them all individually as they’ve been released.

    I’m probably the only one here who thinks that Violet shouldn’t have found a second love. She adored her husband and loved him to death (pardon the pun, not intended) and I understand that kind of love. If something happened to my husband of 35 years, there would never be another man in my life. I couldn’t do it. Any would simply be a faded replacement. So it’s okay for me that she doesn’t have that second chance.

    The one that drove me insane was Hyacinth! SPOILER ALERT!

    SHE PUT IT BACK FOR CRIPES SAKE!!! *headdesk*

  18. 18
    rayvyn2k says:

    I really enjoyed the Bridgerton series, but I’m glad to have read this because the price for the ebook made me pause.

    I will wait until it comes down in price before I buy it. I do want to read more about them, but not at that price. :)

    code word: child45 There aren’t 45 Bridgerton children, it just seems that way (with apologies to Ms. Quinn!)

  19. 19
    M. says:

    I have to disagree.  Violet CHOSE that path and the fact that it was not your classic romance happy ending doesn’t make it any less romantic or less happy for her.  Her life was full of love.  I know people like Violet irl.

  20. 20
    Jessica says:

    I enjoyed the Bridgertons: Happily Ever after.  I even enjoyed Violet’s story.  Frankly, I don’t find Violet’s decision to not pursue a second love all that surprising.  If something had ever happened to any of my grandparents or my parents I don’t think that their spouses would have wanted another romance.  I bought the book on sale on BN.com for $4.50 and it was definitely worth that price to me.  I don’t know that I would pay $9 for it but I would definitely pay $4.50 for it.  It was fun!

  21. 21
    Emily A. says:

    I guess I remembered it wrong. Maybe because it would probably seem pretty redundant for me to for a pregnant lady to want to give her husband another child. They already had 8. I think I am mixing this up with something else. Anyway the implications are there. Mr. Bridgerton never had to deal with his wife after she didn’t want more children! It almost liked she was punished for not wanting more children. I do think some people wouldn’t want to remarry, but plenty of people do. Both my grandmothers were widowed young and for long periods of time and eventually started dating again. They didn’t get a second HEA in the sense most readers think of but they were happier dating.
    I don’t think Violet can be model for an alternative, because her happiness is not based on bucking tradition or finding new ways to be happy, but in being the traditional mother. I still think it would have been nice for her to find someone who thinks she is more than reproductive organs (although with 8 children it would hard for someone to get past that).  I also think that if one of my parents dies I might not want them to move on, but they might eventually want to move on. I think part of how people feel is how old you are and how you relate to the characters. If you still thinking you would be uncomfortable seeing an older relative, you are happy with Violet’s choice. If you are near 36 or older, when Violet was widowed you might have better sense of how unfair it is she never finds love again.

    I still find Violet annoying and overbearing. If I liked her, I might care more if she got an HEA.  @Theo I read on the Quinn website, Hyacinth’s epilogue is revenge for her treatment of Violet. That statement alone annoyed me.

  22. 22

    I liked the Bridgertons but I think I’m going to give this one a pass.

  23. 23
    Rose says:

    I picked this one up on Books on Board shortly before its demise, where it cost less than $5. Unlike some previous posters, I had not read any of the second epilogues before, and there were a few that I wanted to read; for what I paid, it was not a bad deal. My favorite was Posy’s story (An Offer From a Gentleman), maybe because that was the closest to a self-contained story out of the second epilogues – in fact, I think it would have worked better as a novella.

    I’m fine with Violet not getting a romantic HEA. For one thing, she was happy in other ways, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; it’s not such a novel idea, for someone to be content with their life even without a romantic relationship. In addition, the Bridgerton series already had Francesca as a widow who loved her first husband yet found love again – to write a similar story for Violet would have felt repetitive.

    I did get a kick out of Violet calling Daphne a prude.

  24. 24
    Krista says:

    This is definitely a book that I would like to pick up at a used bookstore.

  25. 25
    KarenF says:

    I think I’ve already read all the second epilogues (aside from Violet’s story), so I’m not sure if I’m going to buy this… but for those who were halted by the 8.99 price, the nook version is on sale for 4.50

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