“The Secret History of the Pink Carnation” by Lauren Willig
In all honesty, I picked up “The Secret History of the Pink Carnation” by Lauren Willig from the book swap shelf in my former office. Then it sat in my desk for approximately six months, and when I left to go on maternity leave it came with me, only finally getting read once my son was born and four months old. So, it’s not like I spent any money on it, which is probably a good thing — as I found the book to be charmingly forgettable. The second I closed it, I already couldn’t remember some of the major plot points and characters.
And that’s perfectly fine. I don’t mean that as an insult. Really.
A quick synopsis; A modern-day grad student is doing research on the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Purple Gentian, and the Pink Carnation, and unearths some long hidden documents that may, for the first time, reveal the true identity of the Pink Carnation. Getting sucked into these documents along with said grad student, the reader winds up traveling back in time to hear the story of a plucky young woman on a quest to help the Scarlet and the Purple fellows and avenge her father. There are mistaken identities and courtship and intrigue all over the place, and there’s also enough PG-13 rated historical fiction smut that the book almost becomes purely a romance novel. The characters are likable enough, and I will hand it to Lauren Willig for keeping the identity of the Pink Carnation interesting up to the very end.
It’s total chick lit, and that’s just fine. Not every book needs to be educational and life-changing. Sometimes, escapism is enough. “The Secret History of the Pink Carnation” would be best read on a beach somewhere, or on the plane headed to that beach.
Will I ever re-read it? Nope. Did I already, in fact, donate it to a local used bookstore? Yep. Someone will buy it and love it.