The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

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  1. Farewell To The Legendary League Of The Pink Carnation
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  3. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig | Books
  4. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Oct 10, Minutes. Everything is coming up carnations in this national bestselling series Realizing romantic heroes are a thing of the past, graduate student Eloise Kelly is determined to focus on her work. But her greatest conquest is to reveal the most elusive spy of them all, the dashing Pink Carnation. As she does, she discovers something for the history books-a living, breathing hero all her very own…. Nothing goes right for Eloise. The one day she wears her new suede boots, it rains cats and dogs.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on that dashing pair of spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something the finest historians have missed: As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise stumbles across answers to all kinds of questions.

Like how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero all her own? Buy the Audiobook Download: Apple Audible downpour eMusic audiobooks. Add to Cart Add to Cart.

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About The Secret History of the Pink Carnation Everything is coming up carnations in this national bestselling series Realizing romantic heroes are a thing of the past, graduate student Eloise Kelly is determined to focus on her work. I clutched the overhead rail by dint of standing on the tippiest bit of my tippy toes.

Farewell To The Legendary League Of The Pink Carnation

My nose banged into the arm of the man next to me. A Frenchman, judging from the black turtleneck and the fact that his armpit was a deodorant-free zone. Murmuring apologies in my best faux English accent, I tried to squirm out from under his arm, tripped over a protruding umbrella, and stumbled into the denim-covered lap of the man sitting in front of me. But the Tube was packed solid, full of tired, cranky Londoners on their way home from work. Um, make that about fifty too many portions of fish and chips. Resuming my spot next to the smirking Frenchman, I wondered, for the five-hundredth time, what had ever possessed me to come to London.

No more student papers to grade! No more hours of peering at microfilm! My mind lightly touched the name, then shied away again. The other reason I was playing sardines on the Tube in London, rather than happily spooling through microfilm in the basement of Widener. I ended it with him. But I was the one who tugged the ring off my finger and flung it across the room at him in time-honored, pissed-off female fashion.

The Tube lurched back to life, eliciting a ragged cheer from the other passengers. I was too busy trying not to fall back into the lap of the man sitting in front of me. The very music of their names invoked a forgotten era, an era of men in knee breeches and frock coats who dueled with witty barbs sharper than the points of their swords. An era when men could be heroes. They had retired to their estates in England to raise precocious children and tell long stories of their days in France over their postdinner port.

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But the Pink Carnation had never been caught. That was what I planned to do—to hunt the elusive Pink Carnation through the archives of England, to track down any sliver of long-dead gossip that might lead me to what the finest minds in the French government had failed to discover. I made scholarly noises about filling a gap in the historiography, and the deep sociological significance of spying as a means of asserting manhood, and other silly ideas couched in intellectual unintelligibility.

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It all seemed perfectly simple back in Cambridge. I knew the identities of Sir Percy Blakeney and Lord Richard Selwick—in fact, there was a sizable correspondence between those two men. Surely, there would be something in their papers, some slip of the pen that would lead me to the Pink Carnation. But there was nothing in the archives. I should have remembered that they call it the secret service for a reason.

The proprietors of the Blakeney estate sent me an impersonal form letter listing the days the estate was open to the public; they helpfully included the fall schedule for Scarlet Pimpernel reenactments. The current owner of Selwick Hall was even more discouraging.

He sent a letter typed on crested stationery designed to intimidate, informing me that Selwick Hall was still a private home, it was not open to the public in any capacity, and any papers the family intended for the public to view were in the British Library. And that one, Mrs. Arabella Selwick-Alderly, was currently waiting for me at—I dug the dog-eared scrap of paper out of my pocket as I scurried up the stairs in the South Kensington Tube station—43 Onslow Square.

Pausing on the doorstep of 43 Onslow Square, I ran my fingers through my rain-dampened hair and took stock of my appearance. The brown suede Jimmy Choo boots that had looked so chic in the shoe store in Harvard Square were beyond repair, matted with rain and mud. My knee-length herringbone skirt had somehow twisted itself all the way around, so that the zipper stuck out stiffly in front instead of lying flat in back. I leaned on the reply button. About the Purple Gentian? I managed to catch the door just before it stopped buzzing. Tipping my head back, I gazed up the stairwell. Selwick-Alderly would look like.

She would have a wrinkled face under a frizz of snowy white hair, dress in ancient tweeds, and be bent over a cane as gnarled as her skin. Following the directive from on high, I began up the stairs, rehearsing the little speech I had prepared in my head the night before. I would say something gracious about how lovely it was of her to take the time to see me.

I would smile modestly and express how much I hoped I could help in my own small way to rescue her esteemed ancestor from historical oblivion. And I would remember to speak loudly, in deference to elderly ears. An elegant woman in a navy-blue suit made of nubby wool, with a vivid crimson and gold scarf tied at her neck, smiled sympathetically at me. Her snowy hair—that part of my image at least had been correct! Perhaps her straight spine and air of authority made her appear taller than she was, but she made me five feet nine inches if one counts the three-inch heels that are essential to daily life feel short.

This was not a woman with an osteoporosis problem. Selwick-Alderly ushered me through a cream-colored foyer, indicating that I should drop my sodden raincoat on a chair in the hall. I followed her into a cheerful living room, my ruined boots making squelching noises that boded ill to the faded Persian rug. A chintz sofa and two chairs were drawn up around the fire that crackled comfortably away beneath a marble mantelpiece. On the coffee table, an eclectic assortment of books had been pushed aside to make room for a heavily laden tea tray. Selwick-Alderly glanced at the tea tray and made a little noise of annoyance.

Do make yourself comfortable. Hands clasped behind my back, I wandered over to the mantel. It boasted an assortment of family photos, jumbled together in no particular order. At the far right towered a large sepia portrait photo of a debutante with her hair in the short waves of the late s, a single strand of pearls about her neck, gazing soulfully upwards. The other photos were more modern and less formal, a crowd of family photos, taken in black tie, in jeans, indoors and out, people making faces at the camera or each other; they were clearly a large clan, and a close-knit one.

One picture in particular drew my attention. It sat towards the middle of the mantel, half-hidden behind a picture of two little girls decked out as flower girls. Unlike the others, it only featured a single subject—unless you counted his horse. His dark blond hair had been tousled by the wind, and a hard ride. There was something about the quirk of the lips and the clean beauty of the cheekbones that reminded me of Mrs. But where her good looks were a thing of elegance, like a finely carved piece of ivory, this man was as vibrantly alive as the sun on his hair or the horse beneath his arm.

He smiled out of the photo with such complicit good humor—as if he and the viewer shared some sort of delightful joke—that it was impossible not to smile back. Which was exactly what I was doing when my hostess returned with a plate filled with chocolate-covered biscuits.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig | Books

Selwick-Alderly placed the biscuits next to the tea tray. I joined her on the couch, setting my damp herringbone derriere gingerly on the very edge of a flowered cushion. You wonder what their lives were like, what happened to them. Over the rituals of the tea table, the choice of milk or sugar, the passing of biscuits and cutting of cake, we slipped into an easy discussion of English history, and the awkward moment passed.

When the conversation began to verge onto what had gone wrong with Grant everything , I hastily changed the subject, asking Mrs. Selwick-Alderly if she had heard any stories about the nineteenth-century spies as a small child. Selwick-Alderly smiled nostalgically into her teacup.

We would take it in turns to be the Purple Gentian and the Pink Carnation. My cousin Charles always insisted on playing Delaroche, the evil French operative.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

The French accent that boy affected! It put Maurice Chevalier to shame. After all these years, it still makes me laugh just to think of it. I stared sheepishly down into my tea. Just something to give me some idea of where to look next. I sat so bolt upright that my teacup nearly toppled off my lap. Possibilities were flying through my mind. An old letter, perhaps, or a deathbed message passed along from Selwick to Selwick, with Mrs.

Selwick-Alderly the current keeper of the trust. But, then, if there were a Selwick Family Secret, why would she tell me? I abandoned imagination for the hope of reality. Selwick-Alderly rose from the sofa with effortless grace. Setting her teacup down on the coffee table, she beckoned me to follow. I divested myself of my teacup with a clatter, and eagerly followed her towards the twin windows that looked onto the square. A small octagonal table to the right of the windows bore a pink-shaded lamp and a china candy dish, but little else.

To the left, a row of bookcases lined the back of the room, but Mrs. Instead, she knelt before a large trunk that sat directly beneath the portrait miniatures. Different-colored woods marked out fanciful patterns of flowers and birds across the lid of the trunk, while a large tree of paradise adorned the center. Selwick-Alderly fitted the key—almost as ornately constructed as the chest itself, with the end twisted into elaborate curlicues—into the brass-bound lock.

The lid sprang open with well-oiled ease. My first glance was a disappointing one. Not a paper in sight, not even the scrap of a forgotten love letter. Instead, my sweeping gaze took in the faded ivory of an old fan, a yellowed scrap of embroidered cloth, the skeletal remains of a bouquet still bound with a tattered ribbon. Deliberately, she eased one blue-veined hand along either side of the velvet lining and tugged. The top tray slid easily out of its supports.

I was back on my knees, hands gripping the edge of the trunk. Selwick-Alderly finished for me, regarding the contents of the trunk fondly. Selwick-Alderly started to respond, and then checked herself, rising to her feet with the help of the edge of the box.

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  5. Gnawing on my lower lip, I stared down at the manuscript box in my hands. The gray cardboard was smooth and clean beneath my fingers; unlike the battered, dusty old boxes in the stacks of Widener Library, someone cared for these papers well. The identity of the Pink Carnation. Did she really mean it? I should have been tearing at the twine that bound the box, but there was something about the waiting stillness of the room, broken only by the occasional crackle of burning bark upon the grate, that barred abrupt movement.

    I could almost feel the portrait miniatures on the wall straining to peer over my shoulder. Selwick-Alderly might be exaggerating. I would open the box to find it contained a stack of Beatles lyrics or amateur poetry. The last loop of string came free. The cardboard flap fell open, revealing a pile of yellowed papers. The date on the first letter, in a scrawling, uneven hand, read 4 march, Dizzy with excitement, I flipped through the thick packet of papers.

    Some were in better condition than others; in places, ink had run, or lines had been lost in folds. Hints of reddish sealing wax clung to the edges of some, while others had lost corners to the depredations of time and the clutching fingers of eager readers. Some were written in a bold black hand, others in a spiky copperplate, and many in a barely legible scribble.

    But they all had one thing in common; they were all dated Phrases rose out of the sea of squiggles as I thumbed through. I forced myself to return to the first page. Sinking down onto the carpet before the fire, I adjusted my skirt, refreshed my cold cup of tea, and began to read the first letter.