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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?

My Thoughts:

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


Svea Love said...

Lovely review Jenny! I love this series. It's so fun and the perfect book to get lost in :)

Staci said...

I'm so glad that I have a fellow addict with this series...I grabbed book 2 last week!

Laura @ A Jane of All Reads said...

Great Review! I love this series.

Ash said...

Great review. I'm glad you enjoyed this book, as I did not. I love the quote you included though, that was my favorite part of the book!

Darlene said...

Great review Jen! I'm so glad you liked this. I downloaded it on my eREader a while back.

Amelia said...

Oh cool! I've been wondering about whether or not to read this book, but I think you pretty much sold me on it! :D

Trisha said...

I just adore that quote with all the academic jargon and the sarcasm about it. Wonderful!

Blodeuedd said...

Great review.
Hooked you say, sounds good

Marg said...

I find this series a bit up and down in terms of quality, but I did like the first one, and I wait for each one to come out so that I can see where it is going!

Glad you enjoyed it.

Nise' said...

Glad you liked it! I so enjoy this series.

Irene said...

I'm glad you reviewed this, I need a break from my usual murder stuff. and after reading your comments I discover this to be part of a series. I'm doing a series challenge and have just about had it with the one's I chose. thank you.

Stormi said...

Sounds very interesting, I am going to have to check this one out.

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to read this and your review only makes me want to read it more!

Jenny Girl said...

Muse: Thank you!

Staci: I will be your fellow addict.

Life after Jane: Thank you! Me too!

Ash: aww I'm sorry to hear that. Did you write a review on it that I missed? If so, my apologies. Was there one thing you didn't like or just a general impression?

Darlene; Thanks! How many books did you download so far?

Amelia: Thank you and hope you like it since I sold you :)

Trisha: I love snarky comments like that.

Linda: Thanks!

Marg: The quality changes throughout, huh? I 'll have to see. That' is a bit disheartening.

Nise: Thanks! You too with this series?

Irene: Glad I could help and hope it lightens up your reading. It's definitely not that hardcore.

Ladystorm: Thanks and please do.

Stacybuckeye: It's taken me forever but I finally got to it.

Heather Snow said...

Oooh! I was so excited to come across your review after a long Lent of internet silence. I'd picked up this book, but hadn't gotten a chance to read it since I'm whipping my manuscript into shape after my Golden Heart final.

Now, I'll have to make some time to read it based on your recommendation. Thanks so much!

Toni said...

Hello sorry I have been away from leaving comments on your lovely blog. I am overwhelmed and lost my flow. I am so glad I tuned in for this lovely review. I hope you are well.

The Bookworm said...

sounds excellent, greaaaat review!
I like this genre.

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