Kate Sharma is a profoundly special character. In a world of Regency heroines as noteworthy as Jane Austen‘s Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, Elinor Dashwood, and more, Kate Sharma deserves to stand in their echelons.
As a character who could’ve fallen into the trenches of “not like other girls,” she is instead a lot like most girls—the girls who don’t often see themselves represented on screens as closely because they fall into the classification of never enough, often perceived as apathetic or too stoic. But Kate Sharma isn’t any of those things, and neither are the women who relate to her. Pleated beneath her armor is the spirit of an empath, torrents of insecurities, heartaches, fears, a child-like vigor, and, chief of all, cascades of adoration.
Kate Sharma is strength forged in the embers of grief and love. She is equal parts competitive and honorable, sharp and gentle—a woman with needs and desires. She is all heart and unceasing devotion, opening herself up to anyone who needs her while expecting nothing in return.
Writer’s Note: In light of differences in the adaption’s plot surrounding grief, this deep dive will first tackle the novel, then the TV series, but throughout it, we will refer to Kate as Kate Sharma.
Kate Sharma, The Menace to Society
She is nothing if not a menace to society in Grosvenor Square and lovingly, in all our hearts. There’s something fascinating about the word “menace” beyond the formal definition; there’s a wonder to the word and a light-heartedness that almost touches on the spirit of a child. And in more ways than one, that’s a quality that defines Kate most accurately because though she is a grown woman, her heart is that of a child.
“Do you always talk to flowers?” Anthony Bridgerton asks her at one point, and it’s a small moment in the book but vital in showcasing who she is as a caretaker—where she stands in her spirit and the warmth that most children have that the trepidations and trauma manage to dim. Because, of course, the woman who’d talk to flowers, the one who’d try to hold on to all that is good in the world, would also be the same person who adores her overweight corgi more than anything. Where Anthony loses his light after grief becomes him, Kate allows her light to trek forward in private.
This detail tells us that amidst all the darkness in her life, after all the nightmares that engulf her, the ones she keeps concealed, Kate Sharma is still a woman with a heart this world isn’t always deserving of. When she talks to the flowers, tips her head towards the light, mulches up her dresses, or even paints, she does it without overthinking because this way, she provides for the inner child in her, the country girl from Somerset (or India in the series). In these private moments, she is free from the rules of society to do as she pleases, not to rebel, but because these are the pieces of her she finds the most joy in.
The menace to society is the woman the world doesn’t notice because they’ve grown out of the wonder that rests within—the storms have won for some, while Kate Sharma continues to fight through them even when she succumbs to the roaring thunders. But flowers still bloom in adversary, and she is proof of it. She is proof that boisterous storms don’t tarnish the foundation.
“No one had ever brought her flowers before, and she hadn’t known until that very moment how badly she’d wanted someone to do so.”
Oftentimes, when a person is as giving as Kate is, they conceal how much they’d like to receive until it becomes a thought that creeps in late at night. Kate puts aside her insecurities because she is never jealous of Edwina (or other women who gravitate attention), but rather, she merely never thinks of herself in the same way. Yet, at this moment, while she is surrounded by flowers, forgetting that she is one too, her gentleness is a sight to behold. Kate is the kind of woman who nurtures and cherishes the role each flower plays, caring for them in a way that they deserve, letting them wane only when their natural time comes.
Tulips grow even after they’ve been cut
At times, Kate Sharma’s strength is a result of her own preservation. In the way that flowers need water and kind words, Kate needs to try being strong. She needs to stand tall even when she wants to slouch, masking her pain with a prickly demeanor not because she wants the thorns to scare people away, but rather she is trying to protect herself, believing with full conviction that it’s no one else’s responsibility but her own.
Kate Sharma, much like a tulip, gravitates toward the light, nestled underneath bulky leaves to conceal the roots of her heartaches—armored, beautiful, and capable of evolving even after there are cuts to the root. She isn’t thorny like a rose; she’s soft in her edges. In both The Viscount Who Loved Me and Bridgerton Season 2, Kate tries to safeguard Edwina’s heart despite her own aches.
Society, both then and now, tells us that the overlooked women must have something deeply wrong with them, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. A tulip is no rose or a diamond, but it’s breathtaking still. And that’s why there’s something so utterly striking about Anthony giving Kate a tulip, firmly stating that it’s not right that Edwina receives all the flowers.
Because physical attributes, though important for those who are shallow, do not entirely matter for those who are looking for something more. Ask any woman for whom receiving flowers outside of friends and family is a foreign image, and they’ll tell you that their hearts hurt in a way that words cannot describe. It’s not a horrifically detrimental ache; it’s something you get used to—something you move on from. You say you’re okay because it’s not the worst thing in the world, even though when the sadness dawns on you, uninvited, buzzing perhaps, like a bee, your breath catches for a moment, leaving a brief sting from which you’ll recover until the next time it happens.
She isn’t noticed the way she’d like to be, but she fixes her dress, keeps her head high, and walks forward. She projects her sadness into laughter, choosing to bask in her sister’s glory out of pure, unbridled joy because she’d do anything to ensure that her sister never once understands this lingering sadness the way she does. It’s okay if she doesn’t receive flowers despite wanting them as long as Edwina receives plenty and she’s happy as a result of it. Edwina’s happiness sincerely means the world to Kate, and anyone with a sibling will confirm—as long as they’re happy, it’s okay if we aren’t.
If not today, then maybe tomorrow. The slight hope that lingers in Kate Sharma despite her sadness is by virtue of the love within her—the adoration and loyalty that keeps the wounds from expanding. It doesn’t necessarily heal, but it doesn’t let the damage worsen either.
The Overlooked Everything
“There was so much magic in her form—a strange grace in the way her arm swung as she walked, an artistry in the posture of her shoulders.”
The thing is, Kate Sharma would hate to be boring, and Anthony Bridgerton confirms that she is far from it. She is magic. And it’s partly what differentiates her from other wallflowers because while Kate is overlooked, she isn’t invisible. She doesn’t blend beyond the shadows; she stands close to the middle of the dance floor, the gardens, the luncheons. She is observed and seen, but she isn’t appreciated as profoundly as she deserves to be.
Some of these perceptions result from her walls, and the rest is the tragic effect of what society deems ordinary. But her edges are marks of her intelligence, the strength she tirelessly fortifies, and the grief she pushes back, time and time again so as not to be a burden to anyone else.
She doesn’t want to remain a spinster, but why would she say those words aloud when she could act as though all is well—learn to live with the circumstances. And thereby, this leads to a type of loneliness words cannot even begin to describe. In these heartbreaking moments, such as believing Anthony shouldn’t have picked a tulip for her or uttering the words “just love me” (among others), she tells us that she considers the gardens are for her to look at, and for others to touch.
There’s also much to be said about how this ties into being the eldest sibling. Much of what you do is overlooked; more is expected from you than from your siblings. You’re the responsible one, you’re the caretaker, it’s all on your plate, however inadvertently, it falls on you. But it’s not something we speak up about all the time, we let it simmer—we allow the responsibilities to pile on, hoping for a better tomorrow. It’ll get a little easier later we tell ourselves. And we do it without expecting anything in return.
One of Kate’s many (and more significant roles) is her position as Edwina Sharma’s older sister. And the fact remains, the most beautiful detail about their relationship is the unceasing love between them that differentiates significantly from all others because they adore each other’s company more than anyone else’s. As much as the Bridgertons are the most prolific family in the ton, their closeness slightly pales in comparison to what Kate and Edwina share.
The two are sisters by blood but best friends by choice, loving one another more ardently than there are even words for. And for Kate especially, she holds Edwina in such high regard that she would lay down her life for her, without question—doing whatever is necessary to protect her from what isn’t the absolute, most outstanding outcome.
Bridgerton Season 2: Much of their relationship is similar in the TV series, but it’s different as well. While Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran exude the utmost love the sisters carry for one another, the messy parts of the writing place a wall between them. In both the books and the TV season, Kate Sharma wants to protect her sister from any sort of burden that could potentially weigh on her, and Edwina naturally lashes out when it feels as though she is only given lies and half-truths. But Kate, much like all humans is imperfect, and Edwina should’ve known about the secret. It’s understandable that Kate would choose to shield her like an overprotective sister, but part of her growth is coming to her own by learning that she can choose what’s also bound to make her happy. She can own up to her overprotective edges, stepping back to allow others to learn for themselves.
This slight rift doesn’t occur in the books because Edwina doesn’t have any feelings for the viscount, and she certainly understands both herself (and her sister) better. Still, despite the differences, what remains crystallized is that nothing and no one can compare to Edwina for Kate (and vice versa). Through every word she speaks and every mindful gaze that Simone Ashley’s Kate passes to her sister, she etches unyielding love towards her.
As much as Bridgerton’s “The Choice” is a frustrating hour of television, Kate watching her sister walk down the aisle with utmost happiness spreading over her face is perhaps the best part of the entire thing. It’s plain to see at that very moment and regardless of the situation, watching her sister radiate in a wedding gown is a sight to behold.
The show argues that Kate attempts to give Edwina all that she wants for herself, changing matters significantly from the books where Edwina specifies that she wants a scholar. In that regard, the show forces Kate into a mothering sort of bind, but still, none of that alters the profound love within them. She is the kind of older sister that Edwina could always look up to and love, knowing with her whole heart that there is not a single thing that Kate does with ill intent.
In a room full of people, the two will always find each other first, sharing a laugh or dance before all else, declaring their love for one another as often as possible.
Much of Kate Sharma’s grief in The Viscount Who Loved Me and Bridgerton Season 2 relies on reading between the lines. She is the daughter of two mothers and a father, making her losses each time around more heartbreaking than before. “Some times are worse than others, I think. And surely it must be different for boys and girls. My father passed on five years ago, and I miss him terribly, but I don’t think it’s the same,” Kate tells Anthony in Chapter 12. And for a regency woman, she isn’t necessarily wrong in her assessment.
In the 21st century, our resources are more expansive than they were back then, allowing women and men to step in ways they weren’t aware of before. Our world differs vastly from the world they come from, and despite the fact that in some cases, this point of view could still be relatable, grief is never linear, and this book allows us to explore its pangs through conversations that matter. It goes without saying that grief manifests itself in often indescribable ways. Kate doesn’t know the biological mother she loses—much like Emma Woodhouse, she isn’t left alone, but the loss still leaves a mark in her heart that nothing and no one can touch.
This specific grief thus projects itself through jolts of lightning and thunderous attacks.
The stories she knows, the woman that she is, it’s by virtue of all three of the parents who loved her. Is it safe to presume that Charlotte was perhaps her mother’s name? We have no concrete proof of this, but if so…it makes it all the more beautiful. Still, even though it is easier to move forward from her mother’s death considering the short time she knew of her, much of the ease comes from Mary’s love in her life.
We also don’t know much about Kate’s father (Miles, perhaps, if we make yet another assumption about their second-born son’s name), but we understand that he has taught her plenty, more so in the TV show. If we know that Kate Sharma is six and twenty in the show, then it’s safe to assume she was also much older when her parents passed. Though an assumption, this all nudges us closer to the detail that Kate suppresses her grief, much like everything else for the sake of all others.
Mary Sharma’s Daughter
Mary Sharma’s daughter merits separate categorization because, much like her relationship with Edwina, nothing can compare to her relationship with Mary. Kate is Mary’s daughter. How deeply Mary loves Kate is easily one of the most beautiful gifts in her life. In both mediums, Mary is a constant for Kate—an anchor she knows is there, but one she feels, once again, she cannot be a burden too. And much of this is a direct result of the fear that there’s more loss to come—the lingering phantom pain we don’t quite understand, but we know of its existence.
Kate Sharma holds on for dear life because even though death isn’t something that torments her the way it does Anthony Bridgerton, she manifests her grief into enduring devotion. That’s why Kate will take on whatever task necessary to ensure that Mary (and Edwina) remain at ease. It’s why she picks up the pieces after their father dies in the show because more than anything, despite also feeling as though she isn’t worthy of much love, Kate adores so fervently that she’d do whatever is in her power.
This examination comes down to how grief intermingles with our other heartaches. Because nothing is more potent than its ability to take hold of everything, how people put up a fight against it matters tremendously in the way we allow it to live inside of us. To know a great love is to understand grief.
If you are fortunate to love profoundly, then welcoming grief into our hearts is a part of accepting the depth of our adoration. You must allow it into your heart and feel every tear it forms before you stitch up the wounds and learn how to live with it perpetually inside of you. In truth, grief never leaves as that would mean we’d stop missing those who’ve passed, which we can all attest is nearly impossible for anyone with a beating heart who’s lost someone they love.
Where grief forces some people into seclusion, in others, it echoes alongside strength, causing us to pick up and tend to everyone else’s jagged pieces to help lighten our loads. For Kate, it’s a sense of serenity to know that if Mary and Edwina are taken care of, she can find comfort in living with her pain.
The grief that at times burdens people with such harrowing pain thus forces us to then look into the eyes of those who are still around more closely. Kate knows that the time she shared with both her mother and father was too short, and while she knows that it’ll also never be enough, it’s why she enjoys the company of Mary and Edwina so much. She loves them so profoundly that she’ll never pass up the opportunity for more time with them.
She’ll never pass up the opportunity to help them because part of her healing is tethered directly to spending her time wisely and spreading her love fully. And as a direct result of her insecurities, the gnawing pain within that she ceaselessly brushes aside for yet another day compels her to believe that everyone is worth more than she is. This detail is why the conversation with Mary in Bridgerton’s “The Viscount Who Loved Me” is so crucial for Kate to understand that love isn’t transactional and never something to be earned, especially from her mother and sister.
There’s much to say about Mary noting that it grieves her to think Kate believes she needed to earn the love that she has because that’s largely what represents so many overlooked women. The women who’ve felt as though they’ve needed to always be at their best to be worthy of respect and adoration. And while we can sometimes place the fault on parents for this agonizing self-doubt, it isn’t Mary’s or anyone’s fault here. It’s society’s fault far more than anyone else’s for pitting women against each other in a world where marriage matters more than character.
And perhaps, to a degree even, we can blame the more destructive part of grief that peppers on guilt with the pain it brings into our lives. If only you had just done this, your father would still be alive. If only you had been better about this, perhaps he’d still be here. If only you were a better daughter. If only—two words that could beset us in a way that seldom ever makes rational sense, and yet, as human beings, we sometimes find ourselves submitting to them. Did you even say “I love you” enough times? Did you embrace them enough? Were you kind enough today? Were you agreeable? Did you do the best you could just in case something terrible happens tomorrow? These are the parts of grief we must work through—the pieces that need not dwell in our hearts alongside our love for those who’ve passed. But, most tragically, these are the things that take time.
In the eyes and heart of Mary Sharma, her daughter deserves the world. She could make whatever mistake, and her love for Kate would never change, thus inspiring Kate for the better.
After the Storm
“I’m sure I sound insufferably optimistic, but I think there must be some master plan in life. […] ‘Everything really does work out in the end,’ she explained. ‘I lost my mother, but I gained Mary. And a sister I love dearly. And—The room shook with noise, and she was able to keep her eyes open. She let out a long exhale and allowed herself a proud smile. That hadn’t been so difficult. It certainly hadn’t been fun, but it hadn’t been impossible.”
As kindred spirits who harbor similar fears deep within, this is primarily where Kate Sharma differentiates from Anthony Bridgerton. While she has yet to find the perfect balance in her life, Kate holds on to the flicker of hope that it’ll get better someday. And that’s a result of knowing that she has always known blessings after losses. We also know that a similar blessing finds itself on her path after their daughter is born following Mary’s passing.
The thing about optimism that people tend to forget about is that it isn’t a genetic disposition. You aren’t born believing that the sun will come out after a storm; you choose to hope in it after seeing it happen enough times. Or, you believe it because, amidst the monsoons, it’s all you have to keep you going for one more day. And to believe in a master plan, whether orchestrated by God or the universe, is a choice brought on by the desire to make each day better than the one before.
It’s far from easy to believe this way, and it’s especially hard on the darkest nights, but the choice to continue to do so is to allow oneself moments of vulnerability to admit that you aren’t where you’d like to be right now. It’s welcoming defeat and fears, two things that Kate Sharma often fails to do primarily because she doesn’t want to disturb anyone else’s slumber. It’s a constant detail we see throughout the books and in Bridgerton Season 2. She’ll leave the bedroom if she is tossing and turning, so Edwina’s restful sleep carries on.
She rises and cries, then she eventually braces herself back up, believing in the tomorrow that is likely to come. “You’ve always tried to be so strong—even when you were a tiny thing,” Mary says to Kate in The Viscount Who Loved Me. And the tiny little thing who picks herself back is up is the same woman whose heart is so vast, amid her terror and fears, she looks mournfully into the eyes of another and decides in that very moment that she wishes she could be the one to help him.
Kate Sharma isn’t a super-woman; she doesn’t hold the world’s happiness in her hands, she isn’t dealing with nearly impossible situations that require her best foot forward. She’s just a girl, pushing for the next day to be better, trying to make the space around her a beautiful place for those she loves. She chooses to live by trying new things to overcome her fears and heartaches.
The Strength in Vulnerability, The Love for Laughter
When it comes to differences in adaptations, one thing remains clear, there is strength in every bone of her body and every awe-struck gaze in her eyes. Simone Ashley is the perfect Kate Sharma, and no matter the differences in plot, the heart of the character is still as so.
She is inherently kind and unbelievably warm—she giggles on horseback and seeks out kindness, wanting more than anything to merely belong. Kate Sharma bares her entire heart for us to see in the way she cheers loudly, sports her adorable (and menacing) grimaces, examines beautiful things with reverence in her eyes, and cries openly.
She isn’t afraid to muddy her dress or hunt alongside gentlemen, but most importantly, she isn’t afraid to smile sincerely when a moment overflows her with joy. We see much of that laughter when she is around Edwina and later Anthony. We see it in their marital bickering that follows a six-month time jump. She gives all of her completely.
She is still a woman with many layers, a woman for whom the countryside is a wonder, a woman who doesn’t take no for an answer, especially when her instincts tell her to push otherwise. A woman who’d give and give endlessly without a single ounce of regret for the love she’s pouring through.
Kate Sharma braves the storms by scattering immeasurable love wherever she goes through her discernible devotion to the people she adores. In every version, that is the character we adore profoundly, the woman Simone Ashley allows us to see through her beautiful embodiment.