REVIEW: To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn

In brief: This is Eloise Bridgerton’s story, where she runs away from London to possibly marry a man she’s never met.

The good: Eloise is always fun.

The not-so-good: I kind of missed London and the ton.

Why I chose it: The fifth book in the Bridgerton series.

Year: 2002

Pages: 372

Publisher: Harper Collins

Setting: Country England

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

If you’ve watched series one of Bridgerton on Netflix, you know what a whirlwind Eloise Bridgerton is. She’s always devising some plan, but in the previous book (Romancing Mr Bridgerton) Eloise has been a bit quieter. She’s been writing so much that her brother suspects she could be the notorious Lady Whistledown. But Eloise has been feeling a bit out of sorts since her best friend Penelope got married and she thinks now is time to enact her escape, a year in the making. This makes for a story told entirely out of London, but with a lot of Bridgerton brother protectiveness thrown in.

Eloise has secretly been writing to Sir Phillip Crane for some time, first a condolence note for the death of his wife Marina. (That name will be familiar to many of the fans of the TV series, and yes, there are some likenesses to what happened in series one). But polite correspondence soon extends into a friendly relationship via letter with Sir Phillip’s last letter suggesting Eloise come visit him sometime and that they get married ‘if they suit’. Eloise takes him up on his offer, only to forget to notify him she was coming and neglect to organise a chaperone. But luckily Phillip forgot to tell her a few things too, like that he has two unholy terrors for children. They’ve managed to scare away multiple governesses and nurses with their pranks and of course, they soon turn to Eloise to prank with some unexpected outcomes. Phillip is at heart a good soul, but boy he makes some errors when it comes to speaking. He tells Eloise that he primarily wants a mother for his children (from a modern viewpoint, Eloise is worth so much more!). He’s not good at sharing his feelings or revealing his worries, thanks to father issues. But of course, that makes for a better novel as Eloise and Phillip argue and act at cross-purposes.

Some of the best scenes in the novel are when the Bridgerton brothers come to Sir Phillip’s estate with the dual intent of getting very angry at Eloise for running away and then at Sir Phillip for harbouring her and ruining her. It’s always good dialogue when the Bridgerton brothers are sparking off each other, and Eloise only adds more wit to the mix. As always, Eloise’s dialogue is peppered with wit and wisdom, but it’s all a bit much for Phillip at times who is very much the strong silent type. He’s not used to a family that openly loves each other, nor having an active partner in Eloise.

While I enjoyed this novel, I can’t help but wishing more for Eloise than being the mother to someone else’s children. She’s very smart and independent and more than capable of beating her brothers (and Phillip) at their own game. I don’t know exactly what I wanted for Eloise, but perhaps it was for her to make her mark on the world in a more prominent way, like Penelope. It’s still a fun story (with a hint of The Sound of Music) but I missed the fun of a London season and the sly wit of Penelope.

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