Pink I Week 1 in Review

Pink Card 1A

I’ll start today by saying thanks to Sharlene for sharing the graphic cards she made for the Pink books with me. Now I get to share them with you! I love this one, and the quote comes from Chapter Four, in the unfortunate moment when Miss Gwen and Richard realize that the captain has promised BOTH of them exclusive use of his boat. (If you’d like to see Sharlene’s other work, feel free to visit her site).

I hope you all are enjoying the first chapters of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. I had forgotten so many things, particularly how nasty Colin is when we are first introduced to him. I knew he was protective of his family history, but I did NOT remember that he called Eloise’s work a useless waste of taxpayer money. Ouch. I also had somehow created a mental picture of Amy with blonde hair. I got the curly part right, and I remembered that she was short with blue eyes, but Lauren makes it abundantly clear that Amy has dark brown hair. Not sure how I managed to mix that up.

One of the things that several of you have mentioned already about this series is Lauren’s sense of humor. I laugh constantly when I’m reading, and I think it has a lot to do with the way she phrases things. For example, when poor Eloise is losing her balance on the Tube again, she thinks to herself, “To land in someone’s lap once is carelessness; to do so twice might be considered an invitation.” And then Amy, when she finds herself unable to explain to Richard why she’s heading over the Channel to live in France if the French are so terrible, thinks to herself, “Oh, to be a man, to be able to just punch someone when she didn’t know what to say!” Excellent.

I particularly enjoyed what we’ve read so far from Richard’s perspective. His dread of Almack’s assembly rooms (harboring fortune-hunting mamas and necessitating knee-breeches), his exasperation with his mother, and his affection for Miles and Henrietta are all fun to read. It also tugs at my heartstrings to see how much guilt he lives with. He’s doing such important and risky work in France, but he can’t really tell anyone about it or defend himself when people like Amy attack his honor. I felt particularly sorry for him when he slipped into nightmares about what happened to Tommy.

I love all the references to classical mythology. If Amy spent her childhood reading the Illiad and the Odyssey (and Herodotus in the original!), it makes sense that she and Eton-educated Richard would be able to carry on conversations together. It puts them on a more equal footing than they would have been otherwise, and Richard is less likely to mentally refer to Amy as “girl,” “child,” or “chit” when she’s theorizing about whether Greek authors use ancient Egypt for a setting in the same way that Shakespeare used Italy.

Within the first few chapters, Lauren has already mentioned the Alsworthys, Geoff, and the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale. You have to wonder if she knew that these people who were just names in the first book would turn out to be important characters later in the series.

Wasn’t it fun to go back and meet Jane and Miss Gwen again for the first time? Did you notice anything in particular this time around?


20 thoughts on “Pink I Week 1 in Review

  1. Its been quite a few years since I first read Pink I, so I had forgotten quite a bit. Meeting Jane all over again was particularly delightful, knowing where her story is going. Even at 8, she had the perceptiveness to realize that Amy was up to more than practicing theatricals.

    I did miss (or forgot) that Jane was the one who was the first to figure out disguises, and sneaking out.

  2. I was in a reading funk so I was excited to read along with you! I just finished reading the newest Pink book and was so upset that I had to wait a whole year to read Jane’s story…..I was tired last night so only got to chapter 4 I think. I should have plenty of reading time this weekend to catch up! The first time I read through the series I started with book 2 because I didn’t know any better so I’m happy to read them all through!

    • Go at your own pace, Rebecca! We’ll all get there eventually 🙂 It’s interesting to me to hear how many people came into this series NOT with this first book. How did you first hear about “Black Tulip”?

      • I picked it out from Barnes and Noble based on title, description and the cover and enjoyed that one so much. I was excited to see that it was part of a series so I got the first one from the library. Since then, I have bought the first book and have probably half of the books. I’m going to use this next year of re-reading the books to complete my set!

  3. Ashley, I, too, was surprised at how much I had forgotten or misremembered. It is such a joy to reread this book. I had forgotten how much I loved Richard and Amy! Their initial interaction is priceless, and their conversation is exquisite – more kudos to Lauren. How pleasureable also to find old friends – Miles and Geoff (I loved Geoff in all the books).

    The conversation between Richard and Miles in White’s brought up an interesting reaction in me when I read the part about Miles and his mistress – I guess I had forgotten that he had engaged in the usual single man practice of the time. I wonder also, how many of these characters Lauren intended to continue with when she first introduced them.

    The mention of the classics is always a draw, and brings a smile to my face. Lauren also has a way of bringing even more modern familiarities into her books – when they reach Hotel de Balcourt and the men are unloading “brown paper packages tied up with string” (p.108). Richard’s reply to Edouard, “I’m delivering your sister, Balcourt. You seem to have misplaced her,” was also pure riot.

    One thing that I was careful to notice was the description of Miss Gwen – gray hair rigidly pulled back – that matched my perception of her until the Passion of the Purple Plumeria, when I had a hard time trying to picture Miss Gwen initially in that book because of my previous perceptions. I wonder if anyone else had the same thoughts when reading Pink X?

    To sum up, this is such a wonderful experience for someone like me who almost never rereads a book – because there are so many books I want to read!

    • Betty, I had that same thoughts as you about Miss Gwen when reading Pink X. It took me some time to resolve that myself, and remind myself that I started getting gray hair in my thirties, and who wouldn’t, living with the Meadows!
      I also noticed there isn’t a lot of physical depiction of Jane – it seems like no one really notices her at first. Another reflection of her later skills?

      • Karen, I think it was the cover that confused me about Miss Gwen, and I should know better. Love your comment about early gray hair in general, and specifically for Miss Gwen living with the Meadows!

      • I also noticed there isn’t a lot of physical depiction of Jane – it seems like no one really notices her at first. Another reflection of her later skills?

        There’s really little description of her altogether. I guess just about anyone found in the company of both Amy and Miss Gwen would probably find it quite easy to remain inconspicuous by comparison.

    • I had a similar reaction about Miles and his mistress, Betty. And Richard who changed mistresses as often as he changed his linen.
      And I’ve been picturing Jane as blond all this time, but she also has brown hair.

    • The conversation between Richard and Miles in White’s brought up an interesting reaction in me when I read the part about Miles and his mistress – I guess I had forgotten that he had engaged in the usual single man practice of the time.

      I have to agree. Although Miles and Hen definitely get steamy, I remember Miles as being one of the more “lovable goofball”-type gentleman in this series . . . not quite a Turnip, but no Lord Vaughn either. It’ll be interesting to see what all I’ve forgotten about him when we get to Black Tulip!

      • Exactly, Heather, which is why it really struck me this time. Miles is even described in this encounter: “With his sandy blond hair flopping into his face, and his brown eyes alight with good fellowship, Miles did bear a striking resemblance to the more amiable varieties of man’s best friend.”

  4. I have to confess – I have already re-read the whole book. And yes, I definitely was laughing out loud at points! This is the only book in the series that I had read before, and now after reading #1, I can’t remember why I didn’t immediately jump into the next! (Confession #2 – I’ve just finished the second and started the third). Looking forward to reading and discussing all of them!

  5. Something else I didn’t catch the first time around – Amy catches Miss Gwen reading The Mysteries of Udolpho –
    Miss Gwen: The style of the book is quite arresting, but I find the heroine entirely unsympathetic. Swooning solves nothing.
    Richard: You should write your own. For the purpose of edifying young females, of course

    • I picked up that tidbit also, Karen, and it clicked – without giving any spoiler, I think it’s amazing how Lauren interweaves her books. Rereading is making a lot of things come together in a new way.

  6. This is the third time I have read this one, and I am enjoying it even more. I too missed the “brown paper packages” reference, and hope this group will point out more as we go. Knowing what happens with some of these characters makes this so delicious. Richard is quite the hypocrite about Miles in the future isn’t he? Looking forward to meeting Turnip, and enjoyed the reference to Mary. I am also wondering what Lauren had in mind at the time. I know she never thought it would be a series of twelve.

  7. It is so much fun re – reading this book!! It has been years since I read it and I forgot so much (or just missed it entirely the first time around). I’m very much enjoying meeting Jane and Miss Gwen this time around. I had the same reaction as a previous comment about Miss Gwen – the description in this book always made me picture her much older. Also I had missed the “brown paper packages” reference before. I love Lauren’s wit and humor in her writing!

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