Bridgerton has been renewed for a second season, which means the Sheffields are coming and The Viscount Who Loved Me is about to be adapted on screen, and we’ve got thoughts. Naturally in a TV adaptation, changes will take place, inner thoughts need to come out on screen differently without the presence of the omniscient narrator–but that said, why not at least take apart some of our favorite moments in the book? In this case, at least if there are changes, we’ve discussed in length the scenes that have shaped this novel gorgeously.
This goes without saying, but this will not cover every single scene–with a 200+ page book, we’d have a 500+ page analysis if that were the case, with these, we’ve decided to take apart our top fifteen moments, mostly between Kate Sheffield and Anthony Bridgerton, but some with their family members as this is one of the books where we care just as deeply about the main characters as we do with everyone else involved.
This is just the first of these installments—we’ve got 14 more scenes, but they’ll be coming sometime this week and all together. This particular scene, we figured, deserved its own separate article.
The Library | Anthony comforts Kate through the storm at Aubrey Hall
If I loved this scene less, I might be able to talk about it more–first, how hard is it to actually choose a first with these two? If we had to choose one scene that’s adapted on screen as close to the books, this is it. I’ll be fine with changes here and there, but this, I’m holding on to for dear life.
This is a crucial scene for both characters in a moment of shared vulnerability that changes everything, and there’s a tremendous amount to love about it. For Kate, things change not only after Pall Mall, but when he swoops in to escort Penelope Featherington to her seat after 19th-century mean girl, Cressida Cowper has had her way with one too many words, but it’s this scene in the library that tells us, more than anything, that these are two characters for whom compassion runs deep. This is the moment where without even realizing, they’re completely transparent with one another–as close to baring their souls as they have ever been while not quite there yet.
Prior to this, there is no going back for Anthony Bridgerton; she has captivated him entirely—“the bane of his existence and the object of his desires”—all at once. She’s the woman he admires effortlessly, in spite not wanting to, because much like him, she holds on to her beliefs with unwavering fervency and colossal compassion. He knows she cares for her sister in the same way he cares for his siblings. He knows she would lay down her life for them at any given moment. He knows she would go above and beyond, and he knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Kate Sheffield is a woman who deserves his respect, which makes this moment of vulnerability that much more incredible as a reader.
For Kate, no one has seen this side of her, and she had hoped that no one would, but when Anthony finds her in the library, crouched under the desk—his respect for her only intensifies, and the determination to care for her increases in tenfold. We have been saying all throughout our Bridgerton reviews that conversation matters—transparency matters, and despite the fact that this isn’t a moment led by choice, it’s a moment that beautifully leads to the one that will change both their lives. Anthony’s choice to lower himself to her level, to contrast the previous scene in his study, to contrast not getting to his knees to apologize about throwing the key is so telling of his character. “Eventually he managed to scoot himself under the table so that he was sitting beside her on the floor, with his arm around her trembling shoulders. She seemed to relax slightly at his touch, which left him with the oddest feelings—almost a sense of pride that he had been the one to be able to help her. That, and a bone-deep feeling of relief, because it was killing him to see her in such torment” (121). As the man who has had to take care of his family since he was 18-years-old, this is the very detail that tells us, he is just as good as Edmund in spite of his belief that he isn’t.
Cracks knuckles, let’s dive in shall we? In our character deep dive for Anthony Bridgerton, we take notice to his compassion instantly, but so much of that is different with Kate—it’s bone-deep. It’s not fully comprehending just how profoundly this woman’s wellbeing means to him. It’s understanding, but not entirely knowing how or why he cannot bear the thought of her in a state of darkness. And it’s the same thing for Kate. Once he begins speaking of his childhood, however, briefly, it strikes a chord in her.
Anthony said in a halting voice, “sometimes there are reasons for our fears that we can’t quite explain. Sometimes it’s just something we feel in our bones, something we know to be true, but would sound foolish to anyone else.” Kate started at him intently, watching his dark eyes in the flickering candlelight, and catching her breath at the flash of pain she saw in the brief second before he looked away. And she knew—with every fiber of her being—that he wasn’t speaking of intangibles. He was talking about his own fears, something very specific that haunted him every minute of every day. Something that she knew she did not have the right to ask him about. But she wished—oh, how she wished—that when he was ready to face his fears, she could be the one to help him. […] Suddenly it was too hard to be in his presence, too painful to know that he would belong to someone else (126).
Is it any wonder we’ve been continuously saying that conversation matters? Seeing people as they truly are and knowing entirely that they deserve the world comes from moments of transparency like this. That’s part of what makes this moment, in this writer’s opinion, the strongest. Kate Sheffield, in this very scene is living through her greatest fear—a fear we later learn that results in her believing that she won’t live to see the next day–but in her darkness, she is noticing someone else’s pain and putting his above her own. She sees the flash of pain in the brief second before he turns away equates to she sees something in him no human has seen before—especially when he’s so good at masking it. And it’s necessary to note that he isn’t asked about his father on the TV show even when he makes it clear that he misses tremendously.
Is it any wonder why fans of this novel are itching to see all this brought to life on their TV screens? It’s moments like this that are so telling of just how riveting this couple truly is, but more than that, just how right they are for each other. At this point, they’re both too far gone in how deeply they care for each other—they’ll deny it still, but at least for Kate, this is the moment where it becomes evident that her very fears aren’t as heartbreaking as the pain in him. She grasps her emotions instantly, understanding that she wants to guide him through his fears, love him through his imperfections, and be the light in his darkness, as he has been hers. It starts as a moment of deep vulnerability for Kate but ends with her wanting to be his strength. It takes selflessness to be as aware as Kate is—an altruism Anthony also possesses as the older sibling. It’s their innate need to be strong for others. They both possess it, and in this moment, they both put the other above themselves. It’s a moment where their hearts speak louder than their words ever could—a moment where their souls are on the same frequency, a moment where all is bare—a moment where there’s no going back from.
And it leads us to fervently standing by the belief that with this canon, with this characterization, Kate Sheffield will absolutely notice the repetition in how often Anthony looks at his father’s pocket watch–the moments of vulnerability and heartache the act occurs during. She’ll understand that there’s something bigger there than a curiosity for time. She’ll understand there’s something more than it being a family heirloom, and one day she’ll know the truth behind it, one day, in the same way that he’d be her strength in a moment of harrowing fear, she’ll be his.
Finally, it is moments like this, which also tell us that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and it’s especially okay for the people who often feel as though they have to keep it together for those around them. It is a moment that tells us that fears and heartaches aren’t a weakness, but rather facing them and having someone by your side to guide you are very much a strength. It’s okay to depend on people. No one can go through anything on their own and no one should. This is the very moment that tells Anthony Bridgerton that Kate Sheffield is in fact, the strongest woman of his acquaintance. This is the moment that tells the audience that she is relatable, real, and extraordinary. In the same way that it tells us just how compassionate and gentle Anthony is in spite of his menacing behavior at times. (Which they both possess, and we love them for.) It’s the moment that tells us Kate and Anthony are more alike than they lot on, but that above all, it’s easy to be vulnerable around each other. It’s easy because they care, because there’s something deep within that’s more compelling than they can fathom.