You've Been Bingeing TV Shows (Or Not)

Recs for fans of WandaVision, Bridgerton or Lupin

Hi friends,

I'm writing this from my new (!) apartment. I'm still not entirely unpacked, but I made big strides last night when I got my books out of boxes and onto a bookcase — special shout out to my friend Aya who put together a bookshelf for me.

I took a break from unpacking to spend a lovely Easter Sunday reading in the sun. If you celebrate Easter, I hope you had a relaxing, joyful day.

I’m mixing it up with this week’s edition. I had so much fun with last year's podcast read-alikes post that I decided to focus this edition on TV shows that have been popular during the pandemic. If you haven't watched any of these shows, the books are still great (and maybe you'll find a show to watch?).

Try as I might, I could not come up with a book for "Tiger King." If you have one, send it my way, and I'll include it in next week's newsletter.

Now, what to read if …

You Obsessed Over "WandaVision"

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I have finally finished my marathon of all the Marvel movies and "WandaVision" (I guessed some of the twists and was surprised by others.) For those of you who loved the way WandaVision used different sitcom tropes to explore themes of family, grief and love, I can't recommend Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series enough.

Fforde introduces us to literary detective Thursday Next in The Eyre Affair. Thursday is responsible for policing the book world — mitigating conflicts on plagiarism, fake editions and more — until she discovers she can jump into books. In The Eyre Affair, she solves the mystery of Jane Eyre's kidnapping after the famed heroine suddenly disappears from copies of the book worldwide.

As that description implies, these books are weird in the best sort of way. They're chock-full of literary Easter eggs (just as “WandaVision” sprinkles references for comic and movie obsessives alike) and exist in a world where cloning and time travel are commonplace. Over the course of the series, Thursday marries and has children, who also develop special powers. Those relationships — and Thursday's connections with her parents and brothers — form the core of the series, with everything else as a bonus.

A friend and I reread the series a few summers ago and writing this up is making me think it might be time to do it again.

Bonus RecommendationMy brother, a Marvel comic aficionado, suggests fans of "WandaVision" check out Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, the comic series that inspired the show.

You're Mourning Rege-Jean's Departure from “Bridgerton”

A Duke, A Lady and a Baby by Vanessa Riley

Fans of "Bridgerton" — Netflix's smash hit based on Julia Quinn's books — were dealt a tough blow this week when it was announced season one's breakout star Rege-Jean Page is not returning for the show's second season.

If you're looking for a book to alleviate the sadness you feel over Page's exit or something to help fill the "Bridgerton"-sized hole in your heart, check out Vanessa Riley's A Duke, A Lady and a Baby. 

The romance novel follows Patience Jordan, a 19th-century West Indian heiress in the U.K. She loses custody of her infant son to her evil uncle-in-law after the man orchestrates her institutionalization. Patience is saved by The Widow's Grace, an organization committed to helping widows scorned by their husband's families. The group arranges for her to secretly serve as her son's nanny.

Patience goes undercover as an employee in the home that used to be her own, looking for proof of her tormentor's illegal activities. Patience's plan, though, is complicated by the arrival of the Duke of Repington, her dead husband's cousin who has come to protect the baby.

Since it's a romance novel, you can guess where it's going, but the fun of this book is how it unfolds. I particularly loved the scenes where the regimented, orderly Duke attempts to put the baby on a schedule that includes crawling lessons.

Bonus Recommendation: Sarah MacLean's Rules of Scoundrels series depicts four scoundrels, expelled from society for their scandalous behavior, who open their own gaming hall. The banter between the four casino owners is reminiscent of the conversations between the Bridgerton brothers and a total delight to read.

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You Loved “Lupin”

The Hidden Things by Jamie Mason

Netflix's “Lupin” is a French show about a master thief who uses his charisma and stealthy skills to avenge his father's death. The first five episodes are available to stream now, with the second batch coming this summer. If you love a heist story, I recommend it.

Jamie Mason's The Hidden Things explores the aftermath of an art theft. The story begins when a video of teenage Carly Liddell fighting off a home invader goes viral. Exposed in the corner of the video is a glimpse of a 400-year-old painting from a Dutch master that Carly's stepfather, John, stole years earlier. After seeing the video, those John wronged set out to regain the painting — and get revenge.

The Hidden Things is a fast-paced literary thriller, perfect for fans of Tana French. The chapters alternate perspectives, and Mason excels at giving each character — ranging from the teenage Carly to the assumed-dead art dealer — a distinct voice. It kept me guessing and up late reading far past my bedtime.

Have you read any of these books or watched any of the shows? What'd you think?

Leave a comment

I'll be back in your inboxes on Thursday with a Q&A featuring Ashley Holstrom, a book production designer, about her work and blog.

What to Read If is a free weekly book recommendation newsletter. Need a rec? Want to gush about a book? Reply to this email, leave a comment or find me on Twitter @elizabethheld.

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