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Ever have a confluence of events? It happens to me frequently, and I usually regard it as a message from the Universe. The recent confluence includes both a message and a happy happenstance. Allow me to explain. ("No. There is too much. Let me sum up.")

As you know, a few weeks ago I read and reviewed (and then re-read twice more) The Season by Sarah MacLean. I still love the book, and will probably be revisiting it shortly. Because that is what I do with books I love. And somewhere in the comments, my friend Tessa Gratton (tessagratton) asked "Have you read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation?" And I said I hadn't. And Tess and Sarah said I should. And so I took it out of the library about two weeks ago, then left it sitting on the bookshelf that is "temporarily" located in my front hall.

I've been busy working on the Jane project, you see. And reading really crap romance novels (about which I am chagrined, yo). But about the Jane project: Several weeks ago, I realized that there are precisely zero letters from Jane to Cassandra for the years 1802 and 1803, and that I had, as a result, zero poems for those years. Um . . . nothing happened? Obviously, that's not the case. So I started to fill in the gaps with information found elsewhere - like in other people's letters or journals, or major points in history. Thus far, I have six poems for 1803, but 1802 remained blank. And so it was that last week, I opened a document intending to write a poem about the Treaty of Amiens (25 March 1802), only I had to do research prior to writing it.

Then, on Sunday, the lovely lisamullarkey posted a video from Britain's Got Talent, which I watched and adored. In fact, I've since watched Susan Boyle's performance at least half a dozen times, albeit through a different YouTube link. Ms. Boyle sings "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables, one of my all-time favorite musicals. Les Mis picks up right at the end of the Napoleonic wars (in 1815). So I was reminded of the French Revolution and the war with England, even though that's not what the book/show is about.

And it reminded me that I needed to actually, y'know, read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, so last night, I opened it up. And I smiled and laughed and was generally gleeful until I had to go to bed. And I read some more this morning (before my writing time), and the rest this afternoon when I got home. I am positively gleeful in my delight with this book, and will be heading for the library this evening to secure the next of the books in this particular series, The Masque of the Black Tulip, as soon as I hit "post".

First and foremost, let me say how terribly delighted I am with Lauren Willig. Not only for delighting me with her own story and characters and lines, but also for all the homages she makes to others of my favorite authors, such as this nod to Austen on page 244: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that one only comes up with clever, cutting remarks long after the other party is happily slumbering away." And this wink at Shakespeare on page 247: "Out, out damned ex!" There are more (too many to count), and they make me positively gleeful. I giggled and laughed aloud more times than I can count whilst reading this book, all the while engrossed in the book or, as my friend angeladegroot can attest, eager to return to it.

The book tells the story of modern-day researcher Eloise Kelly, who has gone to England in order to do research for her dissertation on various spy heroes who worked for England in the war against the French. These heroes include the well-known Scarlet Pimpernel, the Purple Gentian, and the Pink Carnation. The identities of the first two are common knowledge, and Eloise is on a quest to find out the identity of the gentleman known as the Pink Carnation (her particular favorite of the spies). Eloise meets Mrs. Arabella Selwick-Alderly, who provides her with family papers that identify the Pink Carnation. She also provides her with an introduction to Colin Selwick, Mrs. Selwick-Alderly's handsome-but-dour nephew. Oh the squeeish fun of that particular relationship.

Most of the pages of the book are concerned, however, with relating the tale of Amy Balcourt and Richard Selwick (the Purple Gentian), a star-crossed couple who met in 1802 en route to France from England after the Treaty of Amiens had been signed. (Which promptly reminded me to do research on the Treaty of Amiens for my Jane poem - confluence/message from the Universe, see?) Amy, whose father lost his head to the guillotine, has always wanted to become a spy for England, in which adventure she is joined by her calm and methodical cousin, Jane. Amy, Jane and the most awesome chaperone ever, Miss Gwen, are on their way to stay with Amy's brother, Edouard de Balcourt in Paris. Richard Selwick is likewise on his way (back) to Paris to conduct further espionage missions, only to find himself saddled with the company of three women on his "private" packet to Calais and, indeed, in his carriage to Paris as well. Immediate attraction and misunderstanding between Amy and Richard ensues, to my constantly-grinning delight.

A massive thank-you to Tess and Sarah for pointing me toward these books. A massive thanks to Lauren Willig for entertaining the hell out of me. A massive thanks to the Universe for the whole confluence/message thing. And a massive thanks to my library, during National Library Week, for having these books there for the borrowing. And now, neither rain nor gloom of night shall keep me from my appointed trip to the library. Tally ho, and away I go!

Kiva - loans that change lives

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 15th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC)
I love, love, love these books. I started on them just before book 5 came out and blew through all five pretty quickly, and now I am sad because I know the wait for book 6 will be looooong (I am really, really trying to ration the remaining Sookie Stackhouse books so I don't wind up in the same fix there as well).

Incidentally, I recently picked up The Season, largely on your recommendation, and there were parts that I was certain were shout-outs to the Pink Carnation books. Like the Dowager Duchess with the dangerous walking stick... :)
Apr. 15th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
God I love your icon. I just took out books 2-4 from the library. I'm sure I'll be through them in a matter of days, and then begging, borrowing, or buying the 5th book as well.

I was grinning and cackling pretty much throughout the book (and yowza! to the fingering scene in the boat, btw). I literally raced to the library this evening so I could start the next one tonight.
Apr. 15th, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
Tally ho yourself.
I LOVE the way you write these reviews...
Apr. 15th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC)
La! *skips gleefully*

Thanks ever so!
Apr. 15th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC)
Hooray for the universe and stuff falling into place just so in order to land in your local library.
Apr. 15th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC)
Apr. 15th, 2009 12:08 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked it! And hurray for the confluence of events. I love it when that happens.

(ps. Gratton is my last name. Hehehe.)
Apr. 15th, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC)
I love when that happens, too. I hate when I mistype people's names, however (so I fixed it). I started reading The Black Tulip last night, and actually squeed when I turned the page from Henrietta to find Miles, since I was already shipping them in Pink Carnation.
Apr. 15th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
I saw that rec on your blog posts, and I reserved it at the library...it's now sitting in my TBR pile, as well -- and now, I think I shall have to read it :)
Apr. 15th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
Oh the squeeish joy of this book. As Tess said, very similar in ways to Sarah's excellent Season, but decidedly for adults (a wee bit of sex ahoy!) I read the first sequel last night and today, and will be posting about it anon.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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