Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
Author: Lauren Willig
Publication: Signet Select; Reissue edition (October 5, 2010)

Description: Realizing romantic heroes are a thing of the past, graduate student Eloise Kelly is determined to focus on her work. Her first stop: England, to finish her dissertation on the English spies of the Napoleonic Wars, like the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. 

But her greatest conquest is to reveal the most elusive spy of them all, the dashing Pink Carnation. As she does, she discovers something for the history books-a living, breathing hero all her very own...

My Thoughts: What a fun historical romance! I thoroughly enjoyed the escapades in the present and in revolutionary France. Eloise is a history graduate student who is in London to try to uncover the secret identity of the Pink Carnation and, incidentally, to get over dumping her last boyfriend. She is invited to look at some family papers but the current owner - Colin Selwick - is emphatically opposed. Too bad he is so hot in a very annoying way!

Eloise quickly learns about his ancestor Lord Richard Selwick who is famous for being the Purple Gentian and Amy Balcourt who has dreams of being one of the Purple Gentian's band. Amy and Richard fall in love but he is afraid to share his secret identity because he has been betrayed by the last woman he shared it with. Amy is young, idealistic, and very eager to be a spy. Richard has to help her out of lots of scrapes. And she returns the favor too.

The other characters including Amy's cousin Jane and their chaperone Miss Gwen form Amy's band. Jane is always ready with a sense of reality to reign in Amy's more outrageous schemes. And Miss Gwen is collecting material for her novel and wielding a sharp parasol. Richard's band includes his actor butler and a variety of friends. Richard's father, mother, and younger sister are also all eager to be part of the action.

I found the story laugh-out-loud funny. I very much look forward to reading the further adventures of various oddly named spies in Lauren Willig's work. For a light hearted and romantic look at Napoleonic France, I heartily recommend these stories.  

Favorite Quote:
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.
Check out the rest of the series here.


  1. I can see why you said that this book is funny. I cannot imagine a chaperone, who becomes spy, and has a parasol as her weapon. That's truly classic!

    This is the first time I heard of this book and I've to say that I am captivated by the story. Sounds really good.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. I have this book on my TBR, but I didn't realize it was funny! I'm bumping this one up the list. Thanks!


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