Thursday, April 1, 2010
Review: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
Publisher: Penguin Group Genre: Historical fiction, romance, adventure
Hardback 386 pages
Book Source: borrowed from the library
From Lauren Willig's website:
Nothing ever goes right for Eloise. The day she wears her new suede boots, it rains. When the subway stops short, she's the one thrown into some stranger's lap. And she's had her share of misfortune in the way of love. So, after deciding that romantic heroes must be a thing of the past, Eloise is ready for a fresh start.
Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on two spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation-the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise has more and more questions. Like, how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero of her own?
Mystery, intrigue, romance, spying....all of the necessary ingredients for a great compelling read. The Pink carnation was all of these and each and every one of the characters, including the bit players, provided entertainment and joy.
The story begins in modern day England with Eloise, who is a grad student working on her thesis.
"Of course, that wasn't how I phrased it when I suggested the idea to my dissertation advisor.
I made scholarly noises about filling a gap in the historiography, and the deep sociological significance of spying as a means of asserting manhood, and other silly ideas couched in intellectual unintelligibility.
I called it "Aristocratic Espionage during the Wars with France:1789-1815."
Rather a dry title, but somehow I doubt "Why I Love Men in Black Masks" would have made it past my dissertation committee." (pg 3)
This little bit had me hooked because I love people with a sense of humor and sarcasm.
Eloise eventually discovers papers that put her hot on the trail of the identity Pink Carnation. The story then switches to the early 1800's. Although the historical story is the majority of the book, the male and female leads in both times are similar. What? You didn't think Eloise would eventually find a hot guy while searching for her facts? Anyway, the interactions of the lead characters remind me of Maddie Hayes and David Addison from Moonlighting, with their cute bickering yet hidden desire. Amy, the historical heroine, may be a bit dim from time to time, but she is quite a feisty gal. I liked her immensely; and the Purple Gentian....well he was a dream.
Although the story is quite predictable and the behaviors maybe not in tune with the times, it was a great story. Fun and entertaining, escapism at it's best. Only the historical story reaches a conclusion, sort of. One needs to read the next in the series to see how the contemporary story continues. That didn't bother me too much because I am only more than happy to continue on with this adventure.
My Rating: 98/100. I was hooked from jump and it was a hard book to put down
2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Support Your Local Library, Historical Fiction, Reading Romance