A Little Buckle With Your Swash
January 31, 2011
The glamour, romance, and high adventure of the legend of the Scarlett Pimpernel has always fascinated me. First presented as a play in 1903, the story tells of a British nobleman who, with his band of fellow bored bluebloods, secretly plans the rescue of French aristocrats endangered by the Reign of Terror in France. Baroness Emuska Orczy adapted the play to a novel in 1905. The legend grew, and to this day fires the imagination of adventure-loving readers. The Baroness obviously had some knowledge of the era; it has long been speculated that the Pimpernel really existed, and that he and his band of brothers were responsible for the safe passage of scores of threatened French families.
Fast forward to present day. Eloise Kelly, American perpetual student and bad luck magnet, decides to change her luck by crossing the pond and heading to England to research and prove that the Scarlett Pimpernel did in fact exist. Only, she uncovers much more than she expected. Her discoveries will not only finally earn the elusive PH.D she's been seeking; it will set the literary world on its ear. Only...Eloise is not real. She's the fictitious heroine of Lauen Willig's much celebrated series, The Pink Carnation. Throughout the books, Eloise serves as the frame connecting each tale of historic swashbuckle, as she discovers an entire league of gentlemen (and ladies) who romp through Europe fighting off evil villains, exposing evil plots, and dancing the perfect minuet all before tea time. Beginning with the first book, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, the reader is taken to a time of daring-do when British fought against Napoleon, and spies lurked in every drawing room languidly enjoying crumpets even as they plotted.
The 8th book in the series, The Orchid Affair, was released last week. Willig has created a truly engaging series, which should be shelved in the "Books You Can't Put Down" section of the library. Come on in, and check it out!
North Independence Branch