Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig

I read the other day that Brad Meltzer said it is okay for men to read chick-lit so I’m not embarrassed at all to say I loved The Secret History of the Pink Carnation! Using the device of a book-within-a-book, this is set in both present day and in 18th century Europe in a world where the Scarlet Pimpernel was a real secret agent. We are introduced to Eloise, a modern grad student investigating the successors to the Pimpernel: the Purple Gentian and the Pink Carnation. She is interesting, but the historical figures are where the book shines.

While a lot of fun, this doesn’t even try to be historically accurate. The women from the 18th century are sassy, well-educated, and would fit in to today’s society without any trouble; the men from all era are generally arrogant cads but eventually revealed to have hearts of gold. The inner monologues are quite modern and funny: “Kissing Amy. Bad idea. What the devil had he been thinking? He hadn’t been thinking at all; that was the problem. At least, he hadn’t been thinking with any part of him that worked in a logical manner.” Another bit I enjoyed: “Like? What an incredibly inadequate word like was. To say that he liked the idea of Amy dressed up as a dancing girl would be like saying Midas liked gold, or Epicurus liked food, or Miss Gwen liked poking her parasol at people.” And from the modern era, an affliction that Merck will surely have a pill for soon: “Unfortunately, I knew exactly what I was suffering from. LIPID (Last Idiot Person I Dated) syndrome: a largely undiagnosed but pervasive disease that afflicts single women.” Funny stuff.

Comedy, historical fiction, and contemporary chick lit are an interesting mix. While I wouldn’t call this overly intellectual, I would call it fun. I think I’ll try the next few in the series and see if they hold my interest.

First Sentence:
“...The city of your birth awaits your return.”

No comments:

Search This Blog