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The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
by Lauren Willig

Category: Fiction / General
400 pages; ISBN: 0525948600

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
Lauren Willig
Dutton, Feb 2005, $19.95, 400 pp.
ISBN: 0525948600

Harvard graduate student Eloise Kelly is writing her thesis on the early nineteenth century dashingly romantic English spies the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Purple Gentian, and especially the Pink Carnation. The first two were unmasked by Napoleon’s agents as Sir Percy Blakeney and Lord Richard Selwick, but the identity of the Pink Carnation never was revealed. Eloise receives a grant to research her dissertation in England, so she ends her relationship with her boyfriend made easier when she caught him in the cloakroom with an art historian major.

Eloise believes that the Pink Carnation is somehow related to the Selwick family of the Purple Gentian fame. She visits Mrs. Arabella Selwick-Alderly at Selwick Hall, who provides her with access to a large trunk filled with family letters from the Napoleonic era. Arabella suggests that Eloise start with the intriguing account of Amy Balcourt on a trip to Paris in 1803 where she meets Richard Selwick. As Amy and Richard play spy counter spy they share in common efforts to keep Napoleon from invading England and a growing attraction. Meanwhile in the present, Eloise plays historical spy counterspy with Colin Selwick, but where this romance will go only time will tell.

This entreating tale occurs in two time periods with the brunt of the story line happening in the early nineteenth century. Readers will enjoy the Regency era gender battle between two fine protagonists yet also appreciate that this is being fed to the audience via present day characters in a chick lit setting. Though how easily she attains the letters seem odd as no outsider had access before, the dual themes merge into a finely blended fabulous romance.

Harriet Klausner


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