Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Eloise has a secret and she's on her way to meet him for the very first time. However, our quiet country gentleman is not prepared for the hurricane that is coming his way. Despite him neglecting to tell her of his "rambunctious" twins, the two begin to see that there may be something more between them. Can a relationship that started via correspondence between two strangers blossom into a love that neither expected? Well, with time, understanding, and a push from our favorite brothers, To Sir Phillip with Love by Julia Quinn, has both your co-hosts signing with longing. It may have been a reread, but as with many good things, it's gotten better with age.
TW: Suicide, depression, postpartum depression, child abuse.
Many thanks to Mimi Matthews today, we cited her article A Cure for Melancholy: Victorian Medical Advice on Treating Depression heavily for our history facts. We highly suggest you check it out as her article contains even more fascinating information!
We are now including our synopses as a semi-transcription of the episode in our blog posts. You can learn more about how we compose these by reading this article. As a reminder though, our synopses are FULL of spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk :)
To Sir Phillip, With Love Synopsis
Sir Phillip is in his Greenhouse on the first sunny day in weeks, thinking it would be good to get his twins out of the house.
Being a father has not been his forte but he is trying and he knows they enjoy nature walks learning about plants.
He looks up and catches a glimpse of his wife, Marina, out in the woods. She has not left the house, let alone her room in a very long time, maybe she would like to join him and the children.
He starts after her and realizes she’s headed towards the lake, and does not stop at the edge. Phillip runs in after her after she drops off the edge and sinks towards the bottom.
He is able to get her and clear the water from her lungs, but this is only a short victory as she dies from a fever 3 days later. As he breaks the news to the children, Amanda asks: “Is she happy now?” Phillip says he thinks so, and his son gives this a think and then says quote:
“I hope she’s happy,” Oliver finally said, his voice more resolute than his expression. “Maybe she won’t cry anymore.”
A couple weeks later, Phillip receives a letter of condolence from Eloise Bridgerton, a distant cousin of his wife. After reading the letter, one of very few since Marina rarely left her bedchamber, Phillip decides it needs a reply, it is only polite, and that is how the correspondence to Eloise Bridgerton starts and continues for a year…
Eloise is on her way to finally meet Sir Phillip Crane. In his last letter he proposed she come for a visit and see if they might be suited to marriage...which at the time she was very surprised about and in fact never responded to.
However, after Penelope, her best friend, and her brother Colin married, Eloise had begun to rethink her life as a spinster. It no longer seemed fun when it was just her and not her and Penelope as they had planned.
It’s not that she begrudged Penelope her happiness, it’s just, she just never thought her friend would marry and now the proposal from Sir Phillip is only one on the table for Eloise. (She’s turned down 6 in total, so now no one is ready to propose again).
Part of the reason she never felt comfortable accepting any of the proposals was that she was looking for the kind of love that her older siblings had. Even Francesca who had tragically been widowed shortly into her marriage, had been in love with her husband.
The correspondence with Sir Phillip started innocently enough. Eloise is a dedicated correspondent, loving to send letters and receive them in return. So it was very normal for her to send a letter of condolence for a distant cousin, even if they had never been close.
However, his reply, containing a pressed flower, stirred her heart a bit, so she had sent a reply…
That being said her family has no idea she has been corresponding with him:
Sir Phillip was, in his own strange way, hers. The one thing she’d never had to share with anyone. His letters were bundled and tied with a purple ribbon, hidden at the bottom of her middle desk drawer, tucked underneath the piles of stationery she used for her many letters. He was her secret. Hers.
Sir Phillip, is currently unaware that Eloise is on her way. In fact, he’s sure he scared her away by his proposal of sorts. She never responded over the last month, which has not been like her...so I guess he’s got to figure out another way to get a mother for the children he has no idea how to parent.
The butler interrupts his internal dialogue to announce there is a caller. It is in fact a lady.
Having no idea who this might be Phillip, goes to see to this caller and is stopped head in his tracks by young, pretty woman with the
“...most achingly beautiful gray eyes he’d ever seen. He could drown in those eyes. And Phillip did not , as one might imagine, even think the word drown lightly.”
Phillip is stunned for a moment and then the mystery woman begins to speak and continue without a moment's pause...apologizing for not letting him know she was coming, but the note would probably have reached him after her…
“This had clearly gone on far too long, with no sign, in truth, that it would ever end. IF he allowed her to speak for one moment longer, he was quite certain that he would suffer an inner ear imbalance, or perhaps she would swoon from lack of breath and hit her head on the floor. Either way, one of them would be injured and in debilitating pain.”
Finally he gets out the one question he currently has, “Who are you?”
After a moment, she says “Eloise Bridgerton, of course.”
And then we have a cute exchange as she refers to her earlier dialogue to which Sir Phillip says, “I didn’t understand a word you said.” “Weren’t you listening?” “I tried.”
Eloise’s biggest... Let's not say flaw...“eccentricity” is her ability to talk. A lot. Very quickly...I get. I too suffer from the same affliction Eloise.
Next we have stilted conversation in the parlour until it is interrupted by a scream...ah the twins.
Eloise is a bit shocked, nowhere in his letters did Sir Phillip mention children, don’t worry, she expressed her displeasure.
Next Phillip does a poor parenting job, not in a bad way, just in a way that shows his children run the house, and his children are not thrilled to see Eloise. They never expressed interest in having a guest. They get sent back to their room after a forced apology to Eloise.
After the awkward exchange Phillip leaves Eloise to her breakfast and rest, to run off to his greenhouse to be with his plants and peace and quiet.
After Phillip flees, Eloise does indeed go change and then wanders around the house, because she is not one to sit still.
She has a run in with Amanda and Oliver, with them continuing their hostile attitudes. However, Eloise is not too worried. She has 7 brothers and sisters afterall.
Phillip comes home for lunch, after talking himself into it and shares a meal with Eloise, coming to the conclusion, quote:
But wooing her wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d anticipated. It was clear to him that he needed her more than the other way around. He’d been counting on her being a desperate spinster, which was clearly not the case, despite her advanced years. Miss Bridgerton, he suspected, had a number of options in her life, of which he was only one.
They spend the better part of the afternoon together and Phillip is convinced Eloise will make a fantastic wife. The biggest reason is because she is a happy person. Marina was really never happy, especially after the birth of the twins.
As Phillip goes to walk Eloise to dinner, he finds her in the hallway, covered in flour. The twins have been up to mischief.
Phillip is mortified but also a little amused at Eloise’s expression and how she takes it. Like a sport, but ready to murder the twins. Not that he can blame her.
He offers to punish them but Eloise tells him that she will see to it.
Phillip had never thought the day would come when he’d be frightened by a woman, but as God was his witness, Eloise Bridgerton scared the living wits out of him. The look in her eyes was positively diabolical.
An hour later they are both down stairs eating when they hear Amanda let out a blood curtailing scream.
Eloise put a fish in her bed. Planning to let Olive stew in suspense as she left his bed untouched.
However, they do have a brief argument over raising children. Eloise is very blunt in her opinion that the children need love and Phillip is upset because how dare she tell him how to raise his children.
Clearly he needed help, otherwise he would not have asked her there in the first place and internally Phillip knows he needs help with the kids but he’s a man and men (or most people really) hate being told they are doing something wrong, even when they know it.
Amanda eventually comes careening in telling her father that Miss Bridgerton is mean and needs to leave. Phillip backs up Eloise though and feels rather pleased with how he handled the situation.
Phillip turned back to his soup, feeling very pleased with himself. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d emerged from a run-in with one of the twins in which he’d felt he’d handled everything just right.
It turns out, Eloise is turning into Phillip’s dream girl.
She was, he was coming to realize, exactly what he needed. Smart, opinionated, bossy - they weren’t the sort of things men usually looked for in a wife, but Phillip so desperately needed someone to come to Romney Hall and fix things.
She’s his very own Mary Poppins!
Phillip does realize though that this is Eloise’s choice and so he must find a way to make sure she wishes to stay.
After dinner, Phillip shows her around the gallery and Eloise is seeing that Phillip might just be husband material. He’s not the chattiest of men but he is funny and has a good sense of fair play.
She also is learning that the mantle he has had to bear was not meant to be his. His older brother died, then shortly after his father, so he took up the role of baronet and married the woman who was supposed to have married his brother.
Eloise also tells him about the death of her father, so she really feels for the children who have lost a mother when they were so young.
Next to go out to the greenhouse. She is admiring his plants and learning about what he does out there with peas but then, the mood changes and Phillip, gentleman always, asks if he can kiss her. Eloise nods, and it is an electric kiss.
Eloise eventually breaks away as he begins kissing her collarbone and starts talking. Nervous talking but talking so
He kissed her again. “Sir Phillip!” “Sometimes”, he said with a satisfied smile, “silence is a good thing.”
He’s teasing and it’s very cute.
The next morning Eloise is reminiscing over the kiss. It was not her first kiss but it definitely made more of an impression on her than others.
As she’s lost in thought, she goes down the hall, only to be felled by a tripwire set by the twins.
It hurts, it really hurts. Eloise manages to crawl over to the wall and fight back tears.
Phillip, who was just coming up the stairs sees her and is appropriately concerned.
He asks what happened but sees the twine strung across the hall, and he knows…and is livid
He helps Eloise to bed, telling the maid to bring something for her face as she is now sporting a pretty fantastic bruise.
He shouts that someone better bring the twins immediately. Eloise tries to calm his anger. They are just children and she was hurt, he shouldn’t worry…
He will have none of that and in her attempts to mitigate the anger Eloise looks at him and sees…
“The look of self loathing on his face, the bleakness in his eyes - it was self-loathing. He didn’t blame his children. He blamed himself.”
The twins come and are punished outside the room. Eloise is alarmed though because Phillip is rightfully mad but Oliver asks if he’s going to hit them...Surely Sir Phillip is not a child abuser…
They leave the room and shortly come back, with Amanda offering her lemon drops as compensation for her part in the prank. Eloise instead tells her to keep them and will only require an afternoon with the children when she is feeling better. Amanda agrees readily and Oliver agrees sullenly.
Afterward, Sir Phillip helps move Eloise out to the garden for her to rest outside and all she wants is for him to join her… and while he would like nothing more, the feelings are making Phillip uncomfortable so he instead flees to the greenhouse
He returns 45 minutes later to Eloise walking around, decidedly not resting.
They get into a bit of a tiff and Sir Phillip leaves and doesn’t see Eloise for the rest of the day. So instead he reflects upon his life and is aware how Eloise is influencing this reflection. He wants to be better.
Eloise, the next morning is regretting having a tray in her room the night before and has also had time for reflection. She realizes that while they may have argued the day before, he is a good man. Quote:
“When Sir Phillip looked at her and smiled, there was an air of shyness to it, as if he weren’t quite used to smiling at women. And she was left with the feeling that he was a man who, if all the pieces of their puzzle fell together in just the right way, might someday come to treasure her. Even if he never loved her, he would value her and not take her for granted.”
With this in mind she goes in search of the twins because even though they promised an afternoon, a morning works just as well.
She invites them to go swimming at the lake, which they are eagar to do, although Nurse Edwards is very upset by the change in routine.
Eloise convinces the nurse to leave, after promising to help them with sums along the way.
Turns out the children dislike Nurse Edwards, they much preferred their old Nurse Milsby. Eloise can see that she is a stern nurse but many are.
So she takes the children to the lake and they practice sums and are having a jolly good time when Phillip comes charging to the lake demanding they all get out.
Eloise is very confused by this outburst and when confronted with Phillip saying it is not safe, she says it only would be if I couldn’t swim.
“I don’t care if you can swim,” he bit off. “I only care that my children can’t.”
She tells him he is incorrect. The children swim very well, hadn’t he taught them.
And then Phillip has a huge internal crisis over this fact.
“His children were growing and changing and he didn’t know them. He saw them, he recognized them, but he didn’t know who they were.”
Phillip takes the rest of the day to think...over everything...
At dinner, Phillip tells Eloise the true circumstance of Marina’s death and why he overreacted to them being at the lake.
He tells her how helpless he felt watching her die of fever days later, Eloise says she understands, as she was the sole witness to her father’s death, something she has really never spoken about with anyone.
She also reminds Phillip that there is still time to get to know his children, and they plan a future outing at a different lake (one with less memories) where they can go.
Suddenly there is a commotion and not one of the children’s making.
A forceful stream of invective was followed by a yelp from the butler...And then Eloise knew. “Oh, dear God,” she said, her grip on her spoon growing slack until the soup dribbled off, splashing back into her bowl.”
The Bridgerton brothers have arrived!!! And they are not pleased. Phillip is reassessing his decision to court a woman with brothers...he should have taken that into consideration.
Eloise is pleading with them to release Phillip (who is currently pushed up against the wall) and trying to appeal to each brother when finally she gives up on reasoning and jumps into the fray herself!
“Stop!” Eloise yelled, hurling herself onto Benedict’s back and yanking his hair. Benedict howled as his head jerked backwards, but unfortunately Anthony’s strangulatory grip held firm, even as Benedict was forced to let go to fight off Eloise. Who was, Phillip noted as well as he could, given his lack of oxygen, fighting like a fury crossed with a banshee, crossed with Medusa herself.”
Yes! Go Eloise! Unfortunately then Anthony notes the black eye and is all like, hell no you hit her...Eloise is like, would I actually defend someone who hit me?!
Finally! Phillip is released from the wall and talking can commence.
After Eloise tells Gregory off because he is a baby and she does not need protection from a child. Which is really a great passage because Phillip is trying to get all the brother’s names straight and while Eloise is bickering with Gregory Phillip is just trying to recall the guy’s name…
Finally there is a moment of introduction before Anthony and Eloise go to speak in another room.
“She shot him an apologetic look, which, Phillip thought, was really the least she could do after nearly getting him tortured and killed, then turned to her brothers and motioned to each in turn, saying, “Anthony, Benedict, Colin, Gregory. These three,” she added, motioning to A, B, and C, “are my elders. This one” - she waved dismissively at Gregory, “is an infant.”
After Eloise and Anthony go to speak, Phillip is left with the remaining brothers. Colin immediately starts eating the remaining dinner and all three keep sending him various murderous looks...eventually Phillip is over it and tells them if they plan to break his legs they might as well get it over with.
In another room, Anthony is giving Eloise no other choice but to marry Phillip. Which ELoise, despite having run away to assess his suitability to marriage, is resisting. However, unless she can give her brother one valid reason why she should not marry Phillip, she will.
Breaking down a little, Eloise tells him that she just wants a love match like her brothers have. Anthony reminds her that his marriage did not start as a love match…
She also explains what made her run away, she felt like she was waiting for life to happen and just could not stand it.
“No, let me finish,” he said. “You’re one of the special ones, Eloise. Life never happens to you. Trust me on this. I’ve watched you grow up, had to be your father at times when I wanted only to be your brother.”
“You happen to life, Eloise,” Anthony said. “You’ve always made your own decisions, always been in control. It might not always feel that way, but it’s true.”
Anthony then gives a little saying they can return to My Cottage (Benedict’s house), her and her brothers, where she can have a week (two max) to get to know Phillip a little better. He can (more specific will) visit every day. However, unless something came up to prove his unsuitability, Eloise would marry him at the end of this time.
They return to the dining room and find that her other three brothers, as well as Sir Phillip, are currently drunk and talking about a local barmaid with gigantic tits.
Eloise is agast but the brothers prosist, asking if Sir Phillip ever tried to have a go at her. He answered perfectly.
“But Phillip just shook his head. “She’s married,” he said. “As was I.” Anthony turned to Eloise and whispered in her ear, “He’ll do.”
Eloise is also outspoken about what the hell happened to make them best buddies and Phillip tells her he asked them to break his legs!
“As long as she lived, she’d never understand men. She had four brothers, and quite frankly should have understood them better than most women, and maybe it had taken all of her twenty-eight year to come to this realization, but men were, quite simply, freaks.”
After the emotional talk with Anthony and the events of the day, Eloise has had enough and demands that they take her to My Cottage that instant. Reluctantly the brothers leave with Eloise.
At My Cottage, Eloise finds a sympathetic ear in Sophie who is appalled by the brothers on Eloise’s behalf. However, she does tell Eloise to be kind to Sir Phillip, he did not force this situation on her and she cannot be bitter towards him, especially if they are to make a marriage work.
Sir Phillip arrives with flowers and a hangover. Turns out Benedict and Gregory are also suffering thus. Lucky Colin never seems to get hung over and Anthony did not drink as much.
Sophie leaves to fetch some lemonade and Eloise and Phillip has some time alone. They use the time to bicker.
Philip tells her that of course they should marry, it’s inevitable and his children need a mother. Eloise is upset and uncharitable because it is obviously not what they want to hear.
However, it does not last long, Phillip knows how to push Eloise just enough to realize that she is being uncharitable so she apologizes.
He also makes amends by telling her that while the timeline was sped up by her brothers, he’s not sorry about it. He had already decided they would suit.
The brothers then come to join them, with an enormous platter of food. (Colin is here afterall) and Anthony tells him they look well. Only the best couples bicker you know.
However, with all this family around and then the letter Anthony gives Eloise from her mother, Phillip knows he must do something, so he takes Eloise into what turns out to be Sophie’s writing room.
THis is the ease her fears as to their suitability. They have encountered number 1 which is a heavy make out and clever use of fingers.
It was a suitable demonstration on suitability.
He leaves Eloise in the writing room to compose herself and perhaps read the letter. As he returns to the garden he sees all 4 brothers are setting up a shooting match.
They invite him to join and all take turns, hurrying, so that they can get to round two before Eloise returns. Phillip puts in a good shot with only Gregory shooting an equal round, and they are about to start round two when Eloise comes barreling towards them yelling “wwaaaiittt!”
All the brothers groan because it turns out Eloise is a crack shot. Dead center with barely any effort. Phillip is actually impressed and voices his pleasure at finding out this fact. Eloise’s brothers are not as excited and put in half hearted efforts for the remaining rounds.
“They do this every time,” Eloise said to Phillip. “They shoot badly until I decide the match isn’t worth it, and then they all have fun.”
Phillip’s next shot is perfect. Eloise is giddy with excitement. Anthony tells Phillip he needs to marry her now, if only so that he can shoot with her, and she’ll leave them alone.
The next day the Bridgertons (minus Colin and Gregory) come to Ramsey Hall for lunch. They get to meet Oliver and Amanda in unfortunate circumstances but luckily the Bridgertons are sympathetic and know how hard the death of parent can be on children.
After lunch and a tour of the green house, Eloise and Phillip have time to talk. Phillip tells her that he never had a parent to emulate and Eloise tells him the whole story of why she left London abruptly and they part ways with a new understanding of the other.
Four days later they get married!
There is a great moment with Violet Bridgerton where she asks if Eloise needs to have the wedding night talk. Eloise tells her she knows enough. Violet is happy to hear that since she knows she did a shit job when it was Daphne’s turn.
Also she tells ELoise that she’s happy she never chose any of those other men. Eloise has never settled for anything less than what she actually deserved.
And then we have the wedding night. Which is briefly interrupted when Phillip undresses and Eloise sees the whip marks on his back. Turns out it was from his own father who believed in corporal punishment and used it frequently.
Eloise is horrified but also just so sorry Phillip had to go through that.
Then we get back to action and we have encounter number two which is fairly normal sex but poor Phillip hasn’t gotten any in 8 years and damn he really had some self control to get Eloise off first.
A week into the marriage things are going well. At least in the bedroom, who knew a man could kiss you there?
However, there is still the kind of connection Eloise wants from their marriage. Her mother had advised her not to push Phillip but this is very hard for Eloise. She is not a sit there and do nothing kind of woman.
That being said, while she has told herself not to interfere with Phillip, she can with the children!
She goes off to the nursery only to find Olive and Amanda in a state of near tears.
She demands to know what is going on but Nurse Edwards insists that she just wrapped their knuckles for disrespectful speech.
Eloise is not a fan of this but knows it is used in schools, so it’s not an unreasonable punishment, however she makes it clear that Nurse Edwards should do so softer next time. The Nurse disagrees but Eloise insists and also tells the woman that she can have the rest of the morning off. So she leaves, but not without voicing her displeasure.
The children are so happy to be free of the woman, Eloise begins thinking that maybe she needs to speak with Phillip, something fishy is going on.
Eloise later finds Phillip in the green house, wanted to discuss her concerns.
He’s been in a happy mood with this new marriage and really only has one thing on his mind so he kind of dismisses her concerns since he’s never found fault with Nurse Edwards and afterall he married her to look after the children.
And because he has trouble keeping his hands off her.
Eloise is annoyed because really it is not the time for a sexy encounter. She is there for serious conversation and he better not have just married her to be a mother and have sex with her.
The whole thing blows up, as they often do when one person is focused on sex and the other is focused on other topics in the relationship. After an hour of pondering how the conversation went wrong, Eloise decides to go to My Cottage to visit with Sophie.
When he finally gets back to the house it is to find that Eloise is gone and at first Phillip is concerned that she left him but the butler makes it clear that she did not take a bag.
With this littler reassurance Phillip decides to go up and see the children, since Eloise has been insisting he spend more time with them.
As he walks in, he sees Nurse Edwards hitting Amanda on her back with a large, heavy book.
Phillip is outraged! No one is allowed to hit his children. Nurse Edwards tries to defend herself but Phillip tells her she better be out of the house in 30 minutes or else. She tells him that he is ruining his children.
“They are mine to ruin.”
He barks at her to leave that instant. She finally flees.
He faces his children, terrified by what he will see, but they throw themselves at him like a hero.
“His arms went around his children, tightly, protectively. ‘Shhhh,’ he crooned. ‘It’s all right. I’m here now.’ They were words he’d never said, words he’d never imagined saying; he’d never thought that his presence might be the one to make everything alright. ‘I’m sorry,’ he choked out, ‘I’m so sorry.’”
He finally realizes that while he tried to stay away from them in an effort to not be his father, he had failed his children. He tells them how much he loves them and vows to himself that he will be there for them always.
That evening, Eloise has not returned, so Phillip takes himself to Benedict’s house to fetch his wife back. She could not have left him.
When he arrives he finds that Eloise has stayed longer than expected because her nephew Charles is sick with a fever and has been for days. Everyone is beside themselves hoping the fever will break. Phillip mentions that Willow bark tea can help with fevers, in a way to help in a very helpless situation.
They stay through the night and by morning it looks like Charles’s fever has broken. With release, Phillip and Eloise head home.
On the way home Phillip tells Eloise about Nurse Edwards and tells her more about his father and Eloise tells him she hates feeling helpless, like she did when she watched her father die. Then they just sit with each other for comfort. A first for both of them.
When they finally get back to Ramsey Hally Phillip tells Eloise to go up to nap and he will be up shortly. He just needs to hug his children for a minute. However, when Eloise awakens, Phillip has not been to bed.
She finds him in the gallery staring up at Marina’s portrait, and he tells her that even in their short marriage, it has been heaven for him. She has to be happy, to stay happy because he has no idea what he will do otherwise. This is why her departure the day before was such a blow to him.
Eloies tells him that she is happy, more than she dreamed possible. And I love yous are shared in this raw moment of vulnerability. They head up to the bedroom where it continues
“‘I’m so lucky’, he said, and his hands moved sliding down her ribcage, over her belly, and then around to her backside. ‘I think I’ve waited my entire life for you.’
‘I know I’ve been waiting for you’, Eloise said.”
And we have encounter number 3
The next week is pure bliss for both of them. Including the children. They have become a family in truth. Even going on shopping excursions together. That evening at dinner Eloise finds a note under her plate. That leads her on a walk through the house, finally to her husband in the bedroom, where there is a big I love you written in rose petals. He tells her how the twins told him it had been the best day ever and at first he agreed but then he realized they were wrong.
“I couldn’t choose a day”, he confessed. “Any day with you, Eloise. Any day with you”. He touched her chin, brought his lips to hers. “Any week, he murmured, any month, any hour.” He kissed her then, softly, but with all the love in his soul. “Any moment”, he whispered, “as long as I’m with you.”
The Epilogue is a note written by Eloise to her first biological daughter. With a favorite line being. “Laugh. Laugh out loud, and laugh often. And when circumstances call for silence, turn your laugh into a smile.”