Jayne's Reviews > The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
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's review
Jul 10, 2012

really liked it

(From my book blog)

Plot: Amy comes to France from England during the reign of Napoleon and the time of famous spies, some of which you’ve heard of (like the Scarlet Pimpernel) and some of which you haven’t, (like the Purple Gentian or the Pink Carnation) (because they’re an invention of this book). Amy’s parents were victim to the guillotine and she longs for revenge and the excitement of spying, and she winds up in some sticky situations with the Purple Gentian himself. The identity of the Pink Carnation is a mystery and a really fun surprise.

The best thing about this book: it’s funny. Not like, screamingly funny on every page, as the Parasol Protectorate books are, but also not “I’m trying to be funny, here is an obviously witty scene” which is the impression I got from Julia Quinn.

However, it’s also a bit cartoonish, and even when Willig tries to make it clear that shit is about to go down, I never felt like either the hero or the heroine was actually in grave danger. In the same way, their love sort of came out of nowhere. I could understand why they were perfect for each other, but it wasn’t like, a long, burgeoning attraction. I thin that’s why it took me so long - there was never any urgency in the plot or with the characters. Most problems are solved with in a few pages and even the part that I dreaded, the MISTAKEN IDENTITY plot device (seriously, fuck the mistaken identity plot device), only lasted for a chapter and was resolved quickly and comically.

So it’s fluffy. Fluffy but very entertaining and cute, like a pile of Pomeranian puppies. It’s decently written, too, so it’s already higher quality fluff, and there’s no way you won’t have fun reading it.

One complaint: there is a frame story, and I have not mentioned it before now because it just does not work. It’s clunky, it interferes with the real plot, and it’s not really interesting. For a superior frame story, try either The Rosetti Letter, or, even better, The Devlin Diary, both by Christi Phillips.

I’m not sure I’ll carry on with the series, but I enjoyed this book and it was certainly enough fun to make me think you’d enjoy it as well.

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