Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Introducing: The Capsule Book Club! The Duke and I – A Bridgerton Novel (Yes, It’s As Raunchy as the Series!)

In partnership with Villa Maria and HarperCollins

Welcome to Capsule’s new book club! We’re SO excited to bring you a new book each month to devour and savour. Whether you indulge in a few hours of luxurious alone time each Sunday, or finish your day with a chapter or two, we invite you to relax and enjoy, and if you’re so inclined, connect with fellow Capsule readers and your own family and friends to have a yarn about the book you’ve just read. We’ll be mixing up the titles we feature every month, so you’re in for an eclectic monthly journey.

And, thanks to our new partners Villa Maria, each book will be expertly wine matched with a great bottle of Villa’s finest – this month, we bring you their insanely good new EarthGarden rosé!

We’ll also provide discussion points on our Instagram @capsule_nz throughout the month, and for more exclusive offers, event invitations and bonus content, please do sign up to our newsletter here!

APRIL’S BOOK CLUB PICK – THE DUKE AND I: A BRIDGERTON NOVEL (Yes, to answer your question – it’s as raunchy as the series!)

Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
The Duke and I, RRP $22.99, HarperCollins

Dear Reader, one has happened upon the tome that started an international phenomenon… but can The Duke and I quite possibly live up to its televisual success? This Author ponders such.

Lady Whistledown

I mean, there was only one book we could have started our Capsule book club off with – the novel that brought us the absolute JOY that is Rege-Jean Page. Oh yeah, and the rest of Netflix’s smash-hit Bridgerton.

The first of eight books in the series, The Duke and I serves as the inspiration for the show’s first season and as you’ll know if you haven’t been living under a rock for four months, it’s a huge vibe.

But while the show’s best bits might lie in the sex scenes (come on, you’re all thinking it) the book, written by Julia Quinn, offers a more rounded approach to life in Regency-era England – with jazzy interludes from everyone’s favourite gossip columnist of course, Lady Whistledown.

A quick summary: Daphne Bridgerton is the fourth child and eldest girl in her aristocratic family of eight siblings, and as such as the first to hit the marriage meat market that was London in 1813. Looking for the perfect husband has consumed her otherwise genial mother Violet, and Daphne, a woman with more sass and wit than one might assume for a society belle of the time, refuses to settle for just ‘ok’.

Meanwhile, the dashing (and oft-described dangerous) new Duke of Hastings is battling some HUGE daddy issues, and out of spite has promised never to marry or sire an heir in an odd kind of ‘cut your nose off to spite your own face’ move.

When Daphne and Simon’s paths cross, they realise they can help each other in their individual quests by forming a faux attachment – the ‘ambitious mamas’ will leave Simon alone, while the rest of the town’s men will inevitably now want what they can’t have – Daphne. Yes, apparently men have always been that thick, even in the 1800’s – some of Daphne’s best musings: “Men, she thought with disgust, were interested only in those women who terrified them” and “Did you know, I have always suspected men were idiots… but I was never positive until today.”

Get me that glass of Villa Maria Rosé for a toast, Daph.

So if you’ve seen the show, should you still read the book, dear book club member? Short answer: yes. There are several differences that I won’t spoil for you here, but the book offers more layers and better explanations as to why characters do what they do.

BRIDGERTON (L to R) FLORENCE HUNT as HYACINTH BRIDGERTON, LUKE NEWTON as COLIN BRIDGERTON, RUTH GEMMELL as LADY VIOLET BRIDGERTON, PHOEBE DYNEVOR as DAPHNE BRIDGERTON, CLAUDIA JESSIE as ELOISE BRIDGERTON, JONATHAN BAILEY as ANTHONY BRIDGERTON, WILL TILSTON as GREGORY BRIDGERTON and LUKE THOMPSON as BENEDICT BRIDGERTON in episode 105 of BRIDGERTON Cr. LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX © 2020
(Most) of the Bridgerton family, as depicted in the Netflix series

It’s a light but indulgent read – you know where the plot is going, so you can simply sit back with your wine and enjoy the journey getting there. A sexier and faster-paced Jane Austen if you will, it’s almost like Gossip Girl meets Pride and Prejudice and I’m here for it – all written in a very accessible way. In fact, the only term you really need to know before you read it is rake – regency speak for f**k boy because, my goodness, the Duke of Hastings has apparently been raking it up all over Europe for some time.

Speaking of, the sex scenes. Often awkward to read in a book as it is to watch on TV over the Christmas break with your mum, Julia does do a pretty good job of not over-explaining with cringy terms – although ‘cradle of femininity’ did send me into hoots of laughter – and you’re allowed to use your imagination and Rege-Jean’s image as much as you like.

Which leads to The Duke and I’s major criticism – a scene where Daphne, having just figured out AT THE AGE OF 19 how babies are made, takes matters into own hands and takes advantage of a very drunk duke. The scene in the book is very different than in the series, with showrunner Shonda Rhimes having chosen to lessen the issue slightly with her approach, but the book’s depiction of Daphne’s scheming is disturbing.

There are some classic romance novel plot points that are served – brooding, serious dude with dad issues; swooning and ignorant female lead who just wants love; meddlesome mamas and complicated societal pressures.

But where The Duke and I really succeeds is in its depiction of family – specifically Daphne’s conversations with her older and very protective brothers, and Simon’s interactions with Daphne’s younger siblings. Charming and easy, it’s the perfect book for a Sunday afternoon spent with the perfect glass of rosé (see below for the perfect wine match!), cosy loungewear and a face masque.

Relax, enjoy and savour!

EarthGarden Organic Range⎮Villa Maria Wines

VILLA MARIA WINE MATCH with Villa’s Wine Expert, Jessica Bell

It’s VERY clear what wine you should indulge with when reading The Duke and I – it most definitely has to be Villa Maria’s newest rosé on the block, our EarthGarden 2020 rosé!

It reminds me a little of Daphne – delicate, but with a dryness and boldness befitting a woman who, even when it was very much a man’s world, knew exactly what she wanted in a marriage – love, not status.

From the dreamy, sun-soaked region of Hawke’s Bay, this organically grown wine is juicy and flavourful, much like The Duke and I. This Rosé is vibrant and refreshing, and for that very reason, is the perfect accompaniment.

Villa Maria - New Zealand's Most Awarded Winery

If you liked The Duke and I, you might also enjoy…

The rest of the Bridgerton series, of course! Start with The Viscount Who Loved Me (Anthony’s story) and then Benedict’s tale, An Offer From a Gentleman. Continue with book four in the eight-part series, Romancing Mister Bridgerton, Colin’s story. All available through HarperCollins.

So, what did you think of the book? Let us know at [email protected], or via our Instagram @capsule_nz

The Duke and I
HarperCollins
RRP $22.99

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