As she does, she discovers something for the history books-a living, breathing hero all her very own It's difficult to narrate one book, much less a story within a story that spans two different time periods, but Reading meets this challenge with a bravado befitting Willig's swashbuckling tale. Eloise, who's given an appropriately flat American inflection, hits a vein of gold when she uncovers letters describing a love affair between the Purple Gentian, another famous spy, and Amy Balcourt, who may be the Pink Carnation.
Much of the novel focuses on the far-fetched love story between Amy and Richard Selwick aka the Purple Gentian , and here Reading truly demonstrates her vocal prowess. Amy's accent smacks strongly of her British roots but also proves as impish as her character, and Richard possesses a deep voice that actually sounds sexy. As the adventure progresses, evil French spies and formidable dowagers roll off of Reading's agile tongue, making this a fun, dynamic listen. My teenaged daughter borrowed this historical romance from a friend and pronounced it awesome.
I like a good awesome is even better historical romance, so I decided to read it myself.
This isn't the genre I generally reach for to quench my word-thirst, but if it's awesome I can't pass it up. Was it awesome?
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Yes it was. Imagine, if you will, England in the spring of Okay, I can't imagine it either, but you won't need to. Willig sets the scenes beautifully, but never lets the landscape overtake the plot. SlideShare Explore Search You. Submit Search. Successfully reported this slideshow. We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime. Upcoming SlideShare. Like this presentation?
Why not share! Embed Size px. Start on. Show related SlideShares at end. WordPress Shortcode. Published in: Mobile. 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. 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.
At Mrs. 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.
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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. Selwick-Alderly said meaningfully. My dissertation! I stared sheepishly down into my tea.
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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.
Stooping, Mrs. 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. I joined Mrs. 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. But Mrs. 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. 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?
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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. Or mad.
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.