Although the action in the book keeps it moving and entertaining, there was less in the way of mystery and way more in the way of chick lit than I anticipated (full pages to describe a kiss). Part swashbuckler/part screwball comedy/part romance is the best way I can find to sum this one up.
4 1/2 stars (but the system wouldn't let me click stars) A delightful tale of two young ladies and their devastatingly attractive male nemeses in 2 centuries. Eloise and Colin in the present and Amy and Richard in Napoleanic England and France are all such fun. As one who LOVES the Scarlet Pimpernel, book and both movies, this book was difficult to put down and I can't wait to read the sequel.
I had heard many good things about this book -- and I definitely agree. I loved the chick lit/spy novel/historical fiction combination. Amy was a fun character and her interaction with Richard was a joy to read. I just had a really good time reading this book.
Liked it so much I'm keeping it! Light, funny romance with plenty of adventure. Brilliant peripheral characters like Jane and Miss Gwen. Would have liked to have more with the guys (Richard, Miles, Geoff). Enjoyed it immensely, laughed out loud in public, and will definitely read sequels.
Although this book has moments of brilliant writing, they are typically when the main character is not interacting with others. It is alternatively witty / funny and then corny / standard romance fodder. Still a good and fun read especially if you like stories about the French Revolution and / or the Scarlett Pimpernell.
One of the worst books I have read in years. I found the main character to be extremely dumb and the plot one-dimensional. You can guess the who the Purple Grentian is within the first three chapters: all that is left is to read how out Amy figures it out-over the next 400 pages! (Trust me, you will figure out the 'secret history of the Pink Carnation' in no time.)
I thought the author was trying to write this tongue-in-cheek, but the more I read made me realize that the author is serious and this book poorly written drivel. Glad I was not stuck on a plane with only this for entertainment....
What a great, light, historical romance. Easy to read and the author leaves you wanting more. I can't wait to read her second book. If you like historical fiction with romance and want something easy to read (sometimes I felt the writing was a little on the YA side) then this is the book for you.
Marci S. (MarciNYC) reviewed The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 3
Overall, I truly enjoyed this book. It was unputdownable for about the first 2/3 of the book and then the 'romance scene' almost ruined it for me.
It's not that the scene was overly graphic, but the prose just didn't seem to match the rest of the book. With the exception of that boat scene (and the other boat scene at the end of the book), I loved this story. I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel -- there's a sneak peek in the back of this edition which has not slaked my thirst for more.
An uneasy mix of modern day chick lit and regency romantic adventure comedy. It was hard for me to stay interested in the modern parts as that heroine seemed so utterly trivial-minded and her hero a cardboard enigma. Would have worked better for me if it had been set all in the past. The one thing it has going for it throughout is that the author has a nice prose style -- but style alone couldn't carry it for me.
The French eventually unmasked the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian, famed spies in the Napoleonic wars, but as Harvard graduate student Eloise Kelly discovers at the start of this breezy historical romance, the identity of the Pink Carnation remains a mystery. Working in London on her history dissertation, Eloise gets access to a trunk of papers and documents from the early 19th century. She dives into this treasure trove, and suddenly the reader is plunged into a novel within a novel, told from the viewpoint of Amy Balcourt. Amy, exiled to rural England with her mother, now wants to avenge, with the help of her cousin Jane, her father's death at the hands of the French. She hopes to be in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel, who heroically tried to save her father. Willig, a Harvard graduate student herself, does a good job painting a picture of the tumultuous era. She also makes the sparks fly between Amy and the Purple Gentian, a dashing English nobleman in charge of Egyptian antiquities for Bonaparte. But when the Pink Carnation's identity is finally revealed after many obvious clues, the reader wonders why it took Eloise so long to get it. More critically, Eloise's appearances come to seem like awkward intrusions into Amy's - and the Pink Carnation's - more intriguing story.
I loved this book. The characters were interesting and the writing was great. I love that you get just a little bit of Eloise's story in each of the books along with the full story of the historical characters.
This book is so much fun. I hate the fact that I have already read it and all of its sequels and can't have the pleasure of experiencing them again for the first time. I have read the books and have also listened to the Audible version read by Kate Reading, which made the stories even more delightful. If you are looking for fine literature, this isn't it but if you are looking for a marvelous way to escape your daily cares and laugh out loud from time to time, this IS it.
I tried to get through this book. Eventually, I gave up. This is a story about a headstrong beautiful girl and she is the same as every other headstrong beautiful girl you've ever read about. The hero is the handsome man who refuses to fall in love because he has been hurt before. You know the rest.
I loved this book! I read it all in one sitting, I couldn't put it down. I was glad it wasn't some stuffy historical BORE. I absolutely loved the romance aspect of the book. There were many parts that made me laugh out loud! One of the best books I've read lately. I can't wait to start the second!
I was looking for something "fluffy" to read, a fun romance that didn't require a lot of me. I was disappointed in the book. Since I see it on so many lists of good romance novels I expected a lot more. The story wasn't all that engaging and I kept waiting for something to happen all ready. I would not read any of the other author's books.
Nancy E. (nemmerson) reviewed The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
I love historical fiction and was hoping for this to be somewhat like The Other Boleyn Girl or The Girl with the Pearl Earring, both great books. Those were well written and researched, this was a predictable, poorly written romp. The main character is immature and dumb. I read 2/3 of the book and just can't waste another minute on it.
This was an interesting book; I didn't realize it was a crossover (multiple genres). I thought the premise was neat and the story was well done. I enjoyed it enough to pursue book 1 about the Black Tulip.
This is really a fun, fluffy book. I have read so many annotated 19th century British novels that I noticed little accuracy problems that kept bugging me. For example, the second son of a marquess is never called "Lord" anything, and if someone is called "Lord" something, it is not accompanied by his first name. Sir Richard - yes. Lord Richard - no. The language is definitely pretty modern, too, although there are some things dropped into the dialogue that are appropriate for the time. Also, some of the situations and conduct and ideas of propriety are totally wrong for the time.
All that said, this did not ruin the book for me. I know what this book is meant to be, and it lived up to that expectation. It's like watching "Pirates of the Caribbean." A real pirate's life was dangerous and dirty and grimy and not as swashbuckling as the movies show it. Also, how about Elizabeth Swann suddenly giving orders to the pirate crew about steering their ship? The governor's daughter, cossetted and pampered, somehow knows something more about rigging than a bunch of pirates? But it's fun and these things do not ruin my enjoyment of the entertainment. The same thing applies to "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation." It takes place in a world that resembles the actual 19th century, but that has some differences. I'm ok with that, and I really enjoyed reading this, so it gets a high rating from me.
Anything that even hints at "chic-lit," romance novels, or time-travelers sets off my book-avoidance instincts. But Willig's novels can amuse and entertain the most die-hard die-hard types. Combine some scholarly detective work by an amusingly human female Harvard historian, some 18th Century Scarlet Pimpernel fashion royal British versus revolutionary French duels of espionage - counter-espionage, and a deft writer's talent for dialogue, setting, and drama. Willig's series provide a splendid read for guys and gals alike. Poke the fire and pass the port. Just wish more were available on PaperBackSwap!
Excellent reading! Historical Romance. A story within a story. I just kept coming back for more - spending all night thinking: Will Amy figure out who the Purple Genetian is? Will the Purple Genetian figure out he loves Amy? Who IS the Pink Carnation? Will Eloise and Colin get together? Now on to The Tulip!
As the book cover states- "This genre-bending read- a dash of chick lit with a historical twist- has it all!" I found this novel quite enjoyable with plenty to offer all- mystery, humor, romance, intrigue- a delightful read.
The French eventually unmasked the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian, famed spies in the Napoleonic wars, but as Harvard graduate student Eloise Kelly discovers at the start of this breezy historical romance, the identity of the Pink Carnation remains a mystery. Working in London on her history dissertation, Eloise gets access to a trunk of papers and documents from the early 19th century. She dives into this treasure trove, and suddenly the reader is plunged into a novel within a novel, told from the viewpoint of Amy Balcourt. Amy, exiled to rural England with her mother, now wants to avenge, with the help of her cousin Jane, her father's death at the hands of the French. She hopes to be in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel, who heroically tried to save her father.
Ellen H. (eeeee) reviewed The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
This is pretty dreadful - I could not finish it. For some reason I thought it would have more meat to it than it did. I didn't mind that it read like a romance novel, I minded that it read like a romance novel that didn't know it was a romance novel. Or perhaps it read like the romance novel a graduate student in European history would write while avoiding their dissertation.
After I started reading this novel, I found a few reviews online that derogatorily referred to it as being "a bodice-ripper" instead of a solid historical novel. I didn't see a negative there; actually, the romance aspect was more of a plus for me than a minus. Quite frankly, my favorite parts were when Amy & Richard (the main characters) were getting together. I suppose true die hard historical novel fans might find that kind of thing distracting from the story, but not me. I also enjoyed the side story of Eloise. I was afraid that the author might switch back and forth too much between the present-day line and the actual story, but I'd say that was only about 10% of the entire novel, which was a good thing in my opinion.
All along, I thought I knew who the Pink Carnation was, even when Eloise (who had been blinded by her assumptions and previous research) apparently had no clue. But I was wrong! The revealing of the identity of the Pink Carnation was surprising, satisfying, and sweet.
I was first introduced to the characters in this series while reading the first book and fell in love with this author and these books. They are wonderful. A great mix of spy, romance and comedy. I recommend reading them in order. I recently got my copy of the newest book, the sixth in the series, and can't wait to start reading it. Well done, Lauren Willig.
This was a fun read that was hard to put down. I enjoyed the characters and the situations, although I have to agree with other reviews that I could have done without the love scenes. I also love how a modern day romance is twisted through the story of the past. I couldn't wait to see what happens to Eloise next!
Eloise is a history student from Harvard spending a year in England doing research on English spies in France in the 19th century. She has a quest - to find information on the mysterious Pink Carnation, whose true identity was never revealed. Her last desperate effort to find something, anything, produces surprising and fascinating results as well as may be a possibility of a romance.
If you are anything like me you'll enjoy this book. Ms. Willig blends historical romance and chick lit to create a page-turner of a story with fun characters and a mystery. I laughed out loud too many times to count and while the leads were an absolute delight the secondary characters kept stealing the spotlight. I did have trouble getting into the story but the pace picked up in the second third so I'm not complaining too much. Another thing that didn't always work for me is the language - it didn't really fit the Napoleonic era. I kept being distracted by modern turns of phrase and American spelling although the characters were all English.
All in all this is a delightful read that did a wonderful job of distracting me from the tedium of the never-ending dishes-laundry-work rotation and put me in a good mood. I look forward to reading the next volume in the series!
Read my other reviews at bibliophilescorner.blogspot.com
After my first initial misgivings I stuck with the book and am so glad that I did. I appreciated the mystery in the book as well as the humor and of course, romance. Fun storyline and enough to keep me interested in ordering the 2nd book in the series! 2 Thumbs Up!
Eloise is doing a disertation on England's spies the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. She discovers a little known one The Pink Carnation. She trys to uncover how he save's England from Napoleon. There are obstacles to finding the information. The story jumps from the present to the past. The transition was easy. I did find that liked the novel better when it was in the present. Its a good historical novel with some romance, adventure and humor. I recomend this book.
Loved it! A spy romance with a twist of comedy. I haven't read all the Pink Carnation series yet, this is my third. So far, it's the best. Lots of historical background and great characters. And wait till you get to the dungeon: laugh out loud. Don't get me wrong: this isn't exactly a comedy, it's just the liveliness and wit combined with a little exaggeration (sp?) that does it. A good read or a good listen on CD. Recommend them both.
Loved this book. Having the story split between historical times and the present made it very interesting, and it's more intelligent than most historical romances. The characters are smart and fun. Highly recommended.
I have never written a review for this site but I felt for this book I should. It is truly the worst book I have ever read. I couldn't even get through thirty pages. I brought it on a trip and left it in the hotel. I didn't want to be responsible for passing it off on this site to another person.