Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review #8 The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
By Lauren Willig
Publication date: 2005
Rating: ***1/2

My Review:

Graduate student Eloise Kelly is trying to research The Pink Carnation, an English spy from the time of Napoleon. During her search for information, she stumbles across the story of Amy de Balcourt, a young woman who hopes to go to France and meet The Purple Gentian, a spy and friend of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation is more a romantic comedy than a historical fiction novel. Most of the novel takes place in the past, following the adventures of foolhardy Amy de Balcourt and Lord Richard Selwick, the young nobleman Amy can't stand because of his close association with Napoleon. We learn right away the identity of The Purple Gentian and Amy's ideas of who he might be and her attempts at espionage are rather funny. There were some moments that I laughed out loud while reading this novel.

What I did not enjoy was the fact that Amy is supposed to be a well educated young lady yet she makes some really stupid decisions and draws some remarkably stupid conclusions. There were times when I just wanted to shake some sense into her. I guess that her knowledge would be limited to what she's read in books and  the fact that she has lived a sheltered life until she arrives in France which could explain some of her naivety but I felt that her character should have had more common sense. As the heroine of the novel I felt disappointed in her. I also expected better scenes of espionage. I am a fan of The Scarlet Pimpernel so I guess I expected more from this novel than what was delivered.

What made this novel enjoyable for me was the humor. Miss Gwen provided ample comedic jabs (with her pointed parasol) and there is some fun comedic dialog between Lord Selwick and Amy. I am sure that the series will improve as it goes on and I plan to read the rest of the books. I hope that I will like the other heroines more than Amy. Her cousin Jane in particular proved to be very intelligent and creative so I look forward to reading more about her in the books.

I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy romance novels, particularly historical romance. For those who like more history than romance, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation will not deliver.


  1. Ooh, I've had this book for ages and still haven't read it! It sounds great though, just my thing! Thanks for the honest review! :)

  2. I love this series, and this first book is the weakest. Amy is my least favorite heroine. You are right that readers looking for history will probably be disappointed. But they're just so much fun!


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