Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Masque of the Black Tulip are now available en français!
Or should I say LA MYSTÉRIEUSE HISTOIRE DE L’OEILLET ROSE and LE MASQUE DE LA TULIPE NOIRE?
Does anyone recognize those covers from somewhere else?
If you’re looking for more en français, you can find The Ashford Affair, aka Ashford Park, in both trade paperback and en poche.
Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
So many thanks to the folks at NPR (but especially reviewer extraordinaire, Bobbi Dumas) for this lovely farewell to the Pink Carnation series.
If you had told me, ten years ago, that the Pink books would be getting this kind of send-off on National Public Radio, I would have snorted coffee up my nose. Of course, if you’d told me then that there would be twelve Pink books, I would have snorted coffee, so, there you go….
Thursday, July 30th, 2015
It’s not an easy task whittling the vast field of romance down to one hundred titles– but the specialists over at NPR have done an amazing job of picking some of the stand-outs in the field.
Reading this list is like a trip along my bookshelves: M.M. Kaye, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Susanna Kearsley, Judith Merkle Riley, Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kristan Higgins….
And I’m so very thrilled that The Secret History of the Pink Carnation is one of the 100!
(My sixth grade self is hyperventilating a little at being on a list with M.M. Kaye, Victoria Holt, et al.)
So if you’re looking for a good book to read this summer, check out NPR’s top 100 romances!
Sunday, April 12th, 2015
So many apologies, all! I’d meant to post our fifth and final Pinkorama yesterday, but life (aka toddler) got in the way (and by “in the way”, I mean “demanded the computer”).
Here, belatedly, is Candace and Cassandra’s Peep masterpiece, “Napeepleon Meets Miss Gwen”. The creators informed me: “Cassie decided in honor of the 10th Anniversary we needed to go with a scene from the book that started it all. So the cast of characters that made it into this scene are Amy, Richard, Hortense, Josephine, Napoleon, Miss Gwen, the lady fainting in the officer’s arms, Augustus, and Jane (sneaking out).”
Here’s the group shot (or, as I tend to call it while I’m writing them, mob scene):
You can see the Purple Gentian (in purple!) checking out that intriguing Miss Amy Balcourt as she makes her curtsy to the First Consul (aka Napoleon):
Meanwhile, that long-winded poet, Augustus Whittlesby (complete with puffy white shirt) follows Amy’s cousin, Miss Jane Wooliston (who is, appropriately, a peep of pink sugar). Has he found a new muse?
Josephine and her daughter, Hortense, receive their guests graciously:
(Don’t you love that tiny, bunny cameo on Hortense’s dress?)
Napoleon, on the other hand, doesn’t. Miss Gwen takes umbrage and whaps him with her purple parasol:
Shocked at such lese-majeste, a lady faints dead away into a gentlepeep’s arms:
I love the detail on these! The tiled floors, the tiny portraits…. The Tuileries Palace never looked quite so elegant in candy form before. Thank you, Candace and Cassandra!
It’s also just such fun to get to revisit so many old friends: Richard, Amy, Jane, Gwen, Augustus, Hortense…. As we wrap up the series, I’d forgotten how many of them were present right from the beginning.
Candace and Cassandra tantalizingly informed me that, “a character from another author’s book sneaked into the yellow salon”.
Is it the Peep with the red hair? Maybe the Scarlet Pimpernel? Or someone else? I’m still guessing…. Can you figure out the character and author?
So many thanks to Cassandra and Candace for a beautiful scene and an intriguing mystery!
Monday, February 23rd, 2015
As we enter the final week of Pink Anniversary Month, we have a final guest post!
This one is from Jessica, whom I have now had the great privilege of knowing for nearly as long as there’s been a Pink series.
But I’ll leave that to Jessica to tell….
Summer, 2006…I was preparing to start a job taking students to Antibes, France, for a month and looking for reading material to take with me. I perused Borders’ “Buy 2, get the 3rd free” table and a book caught my eye…The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. I have always enjoyed historical fiction and romance but at that point in my life it was not the major part of my reading list. (I didn’t even know what “The Regency” was until I became involved with this community of Lauren’s readers!). In other words, I’m not sure what made me pick up the book…the lovely fine-art cover? The enticing title? The color pink? At any rate, I did pick it up and I turned it over. And I read the blurb…a graduate student doing research in London.
At that time I was four years into my own doctoral program, not at Harvard but at the University of Illinois; not in history, but in French and second language acquisition. While I don’t remember why I picked the book up, I remember very clearly the thought that went through my mind as I read that blurb and met Eloise Kelly for the first time: “Finally! A book about my people!” Never had I seen a novel about a graduate student. I couldn’t not buy it.
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation accompanied me on that trip to France. Pre-Kindle, the few books you took abroad with you, you re-read, even if you were only gone for a few weeks (at least if you read as quickly as I do!). I remember reading it in my un-air-conditioned bedroom, on the plane, in the Paris hotel. Even now, thinking of Pink I transports me back to the little apartment I shared with another trip chaperone, in that hot, dim upstairs bedroom, exhausted after a long day of teenagers and the southern France sun.
From the first page, when Eloise fell into a fellow Tube passenger’s lap, I was hooked. Not only did the historical story fascinate me, but the author actually got the graduate school part right! Despite the vast difference between the Ivy League and the Big 10, Eloise’s experiences resounded with me because I could see many of them happening to me. Her hours in Widener Library, my hours searching the various levels of UIUC’s Graduate Library (which I firmly believe were the inspirations for Dante’s levels of Hell); her search for primary sources, my struggle for participants; the uncertainty of Life After Humanities PhD. And, of course: the glory (struggle) and joy (pain) of teaching undergraduates.
Fast forward a few months, at a public library, in the W section. Lo and behold, there was another book by the same author…similar title: The Masque of the Black Tulip…ANOTHER BOOK! It’s a series! From there, I searched the internet for information on Lauren Willig…and I found this website, this community, and Lauren herself. It’s a magical aspect of the internet to be able to interact with our favorite authors, to connect with the minds that bring us the stories that captivate us. I adore reading outtakes, participating in contests to choose flower names or design mugs and tote bags, and hearing about Lauren’s upcoming projects.
Although Eloise and I have taken different paths ultimately, I continue to feel that Lauren wrote me a literary soul sister. I recognize myself in her struggles with her dissertation advisor, the ache of a long-distance relationship, and, again, Life After Humanities PhD. I recognize her anxiety and awkwardness and tendency to fall over, knock down, or bump into whatever there is around her. And we’re both redheads with curly hair. (When her blind date at the Indian restaurant questions a redhead named Kelly siding with the English over the Irish in The Deception of the Emerald Ring, I was reminded that I’m a French professor who is a dedicated reader of a series where the French are constantly insulted and thwarted).
Lauren and her books have seen me through dissertation-writing and defense, my visiting professor position, being hired on the tenure track at the same university, and through the tenure track as I await the final two votes for my promotion. Fortuitously, she always seems to have a book coming out when I need a reward to inspire me to finish a paper or project or just another semester of undergraduate teaching (The Other Daughter is coming out in June, in time for my birthday – thanks, Lauren!). In August 2008, I had just found out that a professor on my dissertation committee whom I particularly liked would have to participate remotely in my defense. I permitted myself an afternoon of total breakdown, in the form of re-reading The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, which had come out earlier that year. I read The Betrayal of the Blood Lily over ginger cats cookies and Indian food, wearing a pink scarf, in a fit of silly themed-ness during my first year on the tenure track. I’ve re-visited my favorite couples, Miles/Henrietta and Geoffrey/Letty, so many times that I fear for my copies of The Masque of the Black Tulip and The Deception of the Emerald Ring. As the tenure track dragged on, I had to abandon my habit of indulging in a full afternoon to read new books in one sitting, so The Garden Intrigue, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, and The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla have all been read in bits before bed, which gave me a chance to truly savor them.
From finding The Secret History of the Pink Carnation all those years ago, I’ve gained an online community I enjoy; an entrée and guide into the world of romance and historical fiction, along with the intellectual tools to defend the genre; and a smattering of botanical knowledge. Not to mention, of course, the gleaming row of books on my shelf with flower titles and pretty covers. And in Lauren and her generosity in her web presence, I’ve gained a friend who understands what my life was like in graduate school and wrote about it.
In French, there is a phrase that perfectly sums up my relationship with Lauren: lectrice inconditionelle, unconditional reader. If she writes, it I will read it. All because she wrote a novel about “my people.”
First of all, can we have a big cheer for Jessica for making it through and achieving tenure? Huzzah! And if the Pink books helped you to procrastinate– I mean motivate! Yes, motivate– your way through that, then I am very proud of the small role the Pink books have played in your success. Eloise salutes you. (And Miles offers a ginger biscuit.)
It means so much to me that the grad school experience in the books rang true. As a grad student, nothing maddened me more than books in which the heroine or hero was theoretically a grad student (often a Harvard grad student, since Harvard seems to occupy a peculiar place in the national imagination) and yet did very un-grad-student-like things, like completing an entire PhD in three years, hopping fields at will (an expert on the Italian Renaissance one day and Stuart England the next), or staying at the Georges Cinq.
I wanted a book that would speak to the real grad school experience (with a bit of, “hey! there’s a whole cache of never-before-seen papers!” wish fulfillment). I was fortunate, during the writing of this book, to have a phalanx of grad student friends who would sit with me at Burdick’s or Peets’ in Harvard Square and egg me on with suggestions like, “Oooh, oooh, add something about how advisors never reply to emails!” Or “What about when you go on dates and guys make snide comments about your field?”
To my grad school friends: I have tried, diligently, to incorporate all of those suggestions. If there were gripes I left out, Eloise and I both apologize.
It was the grad student element that drew Jessica to the books. What was it that captured your imagination?
One person who comments will be chosen at random to receive a Pink Anniversary Mug.
Also… I seem to have a number of unclaimed prizes piling up here! If you’ve contacted me about a prize and not received a response, please, please let me know in the comments. (In which case, I’ll know that something is wrong with my email and can fix it.)
Thursday, February 12th, 2015
Welcome to the first of the Pink Anniversary guest posts! Rachel was kind enough to share her memories and thoughts about the Pink series, and so, without further ado, I’m going to turn the podium over to Rachel for a trip down Pink memory lane….
I am so honored to have a guest post on Lauren’s website! This medium is perfect because readers won’t get distracted by my fangirl squeals or nervous laughter… *ha ha ha*
I first discovered The Pink Carnation series in high school, as a sophomore starting to forge my identity, and using books as my guide to self-discovery. Wandering around in my favorite independent bookstore one spring day in 2006, I was using the oft- condemned method of finding a new book: by which cover intrigued me most. My attention became riveted on a gorgeous spine with pink letters… The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig. The front cover was even more promising and as I read the blurb on the back I decided to purchase the book. But HEY! It looks like a series, I’ll buy the next one too! There was no way I could pass it up.
My mother has blessed me with many things: her height, her wit, and her love of British literature and their accompanying BBC miniseries. So when I recognized the reference to the Scarlet Pimpernel in Lauren’s book it felt like kismet.
The sun seemed to shine brighter and the air seemed to blow more sweetly as I walked down the cobblestone streets with my new treasures. The details are hazy about where I sat (or which homework I neglected) while reading these books but I know that I averaged one a day and was laughing constantly. All I could talk about during lunch with my friends was the new series I’d started.
I never read Harry Potter growing up so I missed out on the wait-all-night-for-the-book-to-come-out-and-then-call-in-sick-to-read-it-right-away craze, so pre-ordering the latest book in a series or going to the bookstore on book launch day was a new experience for me. It was as if I had joined a new group of friends: Lauren, Eloise, Amy, Henrietta, and the other heroines as time went on. (Except maybe Mary… we definitely would not see eye to eye.) The brilliant writing of the series heralded a brand-new truth for me that proved to be very formative. Smart women could write, or read, anything they wanted and still sound intelligent! Romance novels were foreign to me as a 16 year old so the Pink Carnation series was my first foray into bodice-ripping, bosom-heaving fun. But the obvious research that went into the books coupled with Lauren’s clever prose erased my preconceived notions of the Romance Novel.
For me, the series was a metaphor for being a woman: a woman who could be comprised of all sorts of things and not fit into a specific category (think Alanis Morissette’s lyrics “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover…”). It was validation that I could be whoever I wanted to be and to a teenager with lukewarm self-confidence that was exactly what I needed to hear. Um, read. So I let my freak flag fly and aced my classes while laughing obnoxiously about off color jokes. I still read Austen and Dickens but I expanded to some of the contemporary romance authors suggested on Lauren’s website. I embraced my offbeat side and learned to love the word “juxtaposition.”
When Lauren mentioned on her website that for the “Crimson Rose” book tour she would be stopping in Ann Arbor, I was elated. I live on the other side of Michigan, about a two hour drive one way, but a road trip to see a favorite author was just the thing I’d enjoy and I knew I would not be disappointed. And I wasn’t. Lauren was vivacious and kind and it was so inspiring to think how much she’d accomplished not only as an author but also as a student (hello, two Ivy Leagues!) and lawyer. Yet another example of a woman who doesn’t live in a jello mold. At her next Ann Arbor book tour Lauren remembered me- and as a bibliophile (especially one who reads a lot of posthumous works) a living author is a rockstar. And a rockstar who recognizes said bibliophile is nothing short of amazing. The Kerrytown Bookfest panel Lauren was on this past fall was comprised of similar women who write strong female protagonists. Being able to read Lauren’s books (or those from a similar authoress) is a repeated affirmation that who I am is pretty cool. For this reason I read, reread, and recommend Lauren’s books. And, of course, to laugh and swoon in equal measure at men in knee breeches.
Thank you so much for this, Rachel. It means so much to me to know what the Pink books are to you– because I’m that bibliophile, too, with my own cache of Books That Made Me Me. It’s the most amazing thing in the world to stumble upon a book or series of books that really speaks to you. And more amazing still to know that your books were those books.
Happy ten years of Pink!
Thursday, February 5th, 2015
Thank you so much for sharing your stories and memories with me! As I work on the final book in the Pink Carnation series, it means so much to me that you’ve been with me on this unexpected– and sometimes rather twisty– journey.
And now, getting back to business, the winner of the Pink Carnation anniversary mug is…
Alex! (Of Comment #27.)
Congrats, Alex! If you email me at email@example.com with your details, I’ll send that mug your way.
More give aways, guest posts, and other fun stuff coming up soon!
Monday, February 2nd, 2015
Once a book is out in the world, it’s hard to remember that it wasn’t always exactly as it was. But every book changes over time, and The Secret History of the Pink Carnation was no exception.
Here are some fun facts about the pre-history of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation:
— Pink wasn’t originally called Pink. My working title was A Rogue of One’s Qwn, since, as we know, all Regency romance novels must have either rake or rogue in the title– and I didn’t want to deal with questions about garden implements. The “of one’s own” was a nod to a private joke with my best friend about Virginia Woolf and a truly awful play about women writers in which we both took part in tenth grade. Since that was rather a mouthful, when talking about the book with my grad school friends (and, later, my editor), I referred to it as “Purple”, after the hero, the Purple Gentian.
— Pink almost bogged down around Chapter Four. Back in 2001, when I began writing it, I just couldn’t get Miss Gwen, Jane, and Amy to Dover. Things kept happening. And they kept talking. (My characters tend to do that.) Fifty pages later, we were still on the road to Dover, and it was beginning to turn into Canterbury Tales: the Napoleonic Edition. I scrapped the entire travelogue, Amy finally met Richard, and the book at last began moving forward– at least, until the 2001-2002 term began and I had to start grading undergrad Western Civ papers.
— Geoff wasn’t Geoff. I stumbled across a pile of old notes a few years ago and was shocked to discover that back in 2001, Geoffrey was Sebastian. And he wasn’t Richard’s best friend (well, second best friend), he was his valet. By the time I picked the manuscript back up, in the summer of 2002, after turning in a large sheaf of undergrad grades, Geoff had somehow become Geoff and a viscount. And that was the way he stayed.
— The book was never meant to be part of a series. I wrote Pink Carnation as a one-off, just for fun. But when my new editor asked me if I’d consider writing another…. Well, it’s like that Ghostbusters line. If someone asks you if you want to write a sequel, you say yes. (Even if you’re a 1L in law school and have no idea how this is going to get done.)
— The cover wasn’t the cover. Back when Pink Carnation was first acquired by Penguin, in the fall of 2003, chick lit was THE dominant genre. So the original plans for the launch of Pink all emphasized Eloise. By the time advance copies– with a chick lit cover– had been sent out to reviewers, chick lit had uttered a gurgling noise, clutched its throat, and died (so to speak). The art department scurried back to the drawing board and came up with the iconic historical Pink Carnation cover.
Is there anything else you’d like to know about the pre-publication days of Pink?
Sunday, February 1st, 2015
The very first of the Pink Carnation books, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, arrived on shelves in February of 2005– which makes this the tenth anniversary of the Pink series!
I can’t remember the exact date of that first book release (it’s all rather a pink blur), so I am officially declaring the whole month Pink Anniversary. We’ll have guest posts, give aways, If You Likes, recipes (did anyone say ginger biscuits?), reminiscences, and behind the scenes whatnot.
If you’d like to contribute a guest post or have ideas as to what you’d like to see here, just let me know!
In the meantime, we’ll be kicking off the Pink Anniversary month with a give away. Here’s your question:
— How did you first discover the Pink series? Did you start with the first book, or one of the others?
One person will be chosen at random to receive a Pink Carnation Anniversary mug. The winner will be announced on Wednesday. (And I’m also doing a give away on my Facebook author page, so you have a second chance to win there.)
Happy Pink month!
Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
This February marks ten years since the first Pink Carnation book, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, came into the world.
How did that happen?!?!
That seems to call for some sort of celebration, doesn’t it? I hearby officially declare February Pink anniversary month here on the website. I’ll have some of the Pink Carnation comics that Joanne Renaud drew for the fifth anniversary of Pink up for grabs, and, of course, books, books, books. There are a shocking number of Pink books in my closet, in any number of editions and languages, and it only seems right that some of them find a way from my closet to yours.
What else would you like to see here on the site for Pink Carnation Anniversary Month?
Also, if anyone feels like contributing a guest post, just let me know!