Lauren Willig


The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (2005)


The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (2005)

The Secret History of the Pink CarnationParts of this story I absolutely loved–Spies! Napoleonic France! Daring women! And did I mention spies!

Other parts of the story I liked less well.

It is a story within a story–an historian gets access to letters and diaries that she hopes will lead her to the identity of the secret revolutionary and spy, The Pink Carnation. She is rebuffed in most of her inquiries, but one older woman allows her to read through the family papers.

I had two problems with this. First, I didn’t like the “romance” or whatever the hell it was between the historian and the young man who was heir to some of the papers. Secondly, she is supposed to be reading diaries and letters written by different individuals, but the story is written as if you were there. Since it was repeatedly mentioned that the source material was diaries and letters written by multiple individuals, this type of narrative felt exceptional false.

Really, I could have done completely without any of the modern parts of the story, as they served to take me from the story, and served to remind me that in some cases the behavior of the characters seemed more than a bit out of time. (Those bits were primarily the romance bits.) I think that if I wasn’t repeatedly pulled out of the story, I might have been more lenient upon some aspects of the historical portion of the story. But I did keep getting pulled back into the modern world, to spend time with characters I didn’t care the slightest bit about, and that annoyance led me to read the historical portion of the book more critically.

So all in all, it was for the most part good, but I’m not sure I’d want to read another story if the modern bits were going to be retained.
Rating: 6/10