A photograph of Lord Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma from Bridgerton. Image: Liam Daniel / Netflix

Lord Anthony Bridgerton and Kate Sharma in Bridgerton. Image: Liam Daniel / Netflix

Ah, Bridgerton. Endless blossom-covered trees, heaving bosoms and conversations about honour. Shonda Rhimes’ pastel-hued period drama transports viewers to a fantastical Georgian London, where spring lasts forever and a marriage proposal is the only thing that matters. It’s proven divisive stuff: viewers seem to be either unable to get through the trailer or unable not to binge the whole thing in a matter of days. But if you’re in the latter camp, and hungry for more frills and Featheringtons, here is a reading list to keep you occupied through season two and beyond.

Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer (1935)

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a nationwide obsession with 17th-century love stories: in  1935 the fittingly named Georgette Heyer released her first Regency Romance, defining a new genre in the process: a love story inspired by the Austen era, set entirely among the aristocracy and dealing with such controversial notions as wanting to marry for love. Sound familiar? Heyer became an instant bestseller with her first Regency Romance, Regency Buck, and went on to write a further 25 over the next 38 years. Like Bridgerton, the books have proved both successful and divisive for their ornate fascination with the trimmings of the London season, which Heyer brought to life through meticulous – some would say overblown – attention to detail.

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar (2002)

Bridgerton has won plenty of comparisons to the Noughties teen saga thanks to its mysterious narrator: Lady Whistledown. If you’re more about the gossip than the corsets, then diving into the 14-strong Gossip Girl series of books may satisfy. There are parallels to be drawn: young, affluent, beautiful people; jealous (and voracious) sexual appetites and a world where reputation is everything – it’s just the setting that’s 200 years out of step.

Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (2000)

We would be remiss, here, not to point out that Bridgerton itself is set on a collection of novels by the same name. Historical novelist Julia Quinn earned a seat at the top of the New York Times’ bestseller list with her eight books, which start with The Duke and I (now given a glossy new cover with faces you may recognise). Fans have already been swift to point out the similarities and differences between the television series and the books – as well as what clues the novels may hold for future seasons. Delving into Quinn’s written world is a sure-fire way of hanging onto those characters you’ve fallen for.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

The one that started it all off. There would never have been Bridgerton had Austen not inspired an enthusiasm for Regency-era society. There are far fewer antics in the bedchamber, and Austen leaves most of the ballgowns to one’s imagination, but nobody captures the subtleties and shade of societal chatter better. Start with Pride and Prejudice, safe in the knowledge that the wonders of Emma, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility await you.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (2013)

Sex! Birthrights! Overbearing matriarchs! Kevin Kwan’s riotously successful comedy may be set in modern-day Singapore, but the upper crust obsession with marriage and money makes it a worthy companion to Bridgerton. Kwan’s immaculate eye for detail means there’s plenty of lavish surroundings to gorge on, here, too – these weddings will make that of the Duke and Daphne look seriously meagre.

Riders by Jilly Cooper (1985)

Forget the fascination with show jumping (after all, in Bridgerton, horses mostly pull carriages) and instead focus on the bed hopping: the first in Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles series did for Bonkbusters what Georgette Heyer did for Regency romance: these narratives of the well-to-do in a fictional Cotswolds-like part of the country are famed for their frank and funny sex scenes. In between, Cooper provides a delicious combination of outrageous parties, improbable outfits and wicked one-liners. Like Bridgerton! But better.

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