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The Secret History of the Pink Carnation Paperback – December 27, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
DON'T expect Jane Austen or Baroness Orczy or Philippa Gregory. Lauren Willig's "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation" is not deep, destined-to-be-classic, impeccably accurate historical fiction--nor is it intended to be. The author says on her website that she wrote it for fun after passing some tough grad school exams, and her enjoyment of writing it comes across in the book.
Sure, Amy Balcourt isn't quite as prim and proper as your standard young lady of 1803. It would be difficult to feature in a romance novel if she were. Which, though it hurts my intellectual pride to admit it, this essentially is.
It is not, however, I hasten to add, a bodice-ripper Harlequin that's all sex and no substance with no plot, flat characters, and a lot of heaving bosoms. Um, well...there are a few heaving bosoms, but that isn't the *sole* focus of the plot.
On the contrary, the book is well-written and engaging. The plot may be insanely contrived at times, but that's what makes it a comedy! The writing is light and funny, the dialog is witty, the romance is...romantic, the plot is suspenseful and full of funny unexpected turns, and the characters are outstanding.
Rebellious, vivacious Amy Balcourt and dashing, mysterious Lord Richard Selwick are the main characters. Amy is a lively, intelligent young woman with big plans to help the mysterious Purple Gentian save England (though she wouldn't object if he fell in love with her in the process). She is appalled when she meets Richard--an Englishman on Bonaparte's payroll, which in Amy's eyes amounts to nothing short of treason.Read more ›
When I first read the title "The secret history of the pink carnation" I thought that the pink carnation had to be a painting of some sort. As it turns out, the pink carnation is a not-so-real English spy who worked against Napoleon. In fact, the pink carnation is the third in a line of English spies named after flowers who all worked in France. In modern times Harvard grad student Eloise Kelly is trying to uncover the real identity of the pink carnation, the only spy who was not unmasked by the French. She gets her opportunity when an elderly woman, a descendent of one of these flower spies, grants her access to family letter and diaries that revel the identity of the pink carnation, but have always been kept secret from the world.
And so we have the secret history of the pink carnation. Is the spy the same person as the romantic Purple Gentian, a spy who poses as the collector of Egyptian objects for napoleon? Is it Amy Balcourt, a young woman whose father, a French noble, was murdered by the revolutionaries? And will Eloise Kelly even be allowed to figure the mystery out over the objections of an annoying young British noble who doesn't want her poking into his families past?
In my opinion the main virtue of this book is that it's funny. All those little ironic, stupid observations that we make in the course of a normal day are written down.Read more ›
This is not an historical spy novel with romantic overtones. There is no espionage: only arrogant, bumbling fools trying to foil other arrogant, bumbling fools. There is no romance: only lust and sex.
The novel is twice as long as necessary -- no, wait, it's completely unnecessary. Truly, I don't understand how the series continues.
The main thing that annoys, however is that the 19C heroine is such a dithering idiot you want to wring her neck. She behaves like an 8-year-old boy trying to worm his way into his older brother's clubhouse. She wants to be a spy, but has no idea what spies are actually after. It's kind of a cloak-and-dagger game for her. The author does that romance novel thing of having this woman be "spirited," which means cutely indignant every so often for no particularly good reason. Then the hero gets miffed at her. It's unspeakably tedious. And she's constantly stubbing her toe or falling down and squealing "ouch!" when she's trying to be stealthy. The modern heroine is also always spilling things and tripping. I'm not sure if this clumsiness is supposed to make them adorable or relatable or what, but it's just irritating. By the halfway point, you'll find yourself wishing in vain that the halfwit will get herself killed, as she is forever on the verge of doing, but no luck.
If you want a heroine for whom you can muster at least a morsel of respect, look elsewhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoyable historical chick lit. (: Be warned, though: there is a VERY graphic sex scene that takes several pages (along with a shorter, not-quite sex scene that is slightly... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Maya
I enjoyed a lot of this story and in other parts I was bored. You have to know it's a comical story, not serious at all. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Tracy
SPOILER ALERT: Engaging writing style, but a premise which started out so good kept steadily going downhill. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Laura E.
This is the third in the series that I have read. I wish I had known in the beginning that this was a series so I started with this one.Published 6 months ago by Cathy Watkins
I'm so rarely a fan of historical fiction/romance. Maybe I liked this book a bit more because it didn't feel like the stories I've read in the past. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Delta Stet
I read this book for the first time when I was going through a tough time in my life. It was easy to fall into the world that Lauren had created. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Chelsey Weaver
A wonderful historical romance filled with real history. I loved it entirely. I truly enjoyed the modern construct as well.Published 7 months ago by Julie Leto