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.