Pink I Week 2 in Review, and a Winner

Pink Card 1B

First off, congratulations to the winner of our first giveaway: Amanda! Amanda, if you will email me at with your address, I will get your signed copy of Pink I in the mail to you ASAP. Thanks to all those of you who entered and shared the contest. Make sure you keep checking back with the blog, because more giveaways are on the horizon.

Thanks again to Sharlene for providing the excellent card for today’s post. I love this moment in the book for two reasons. First, I really enjoy Lauren’s depiction of Napoleon. From the way his shouting precedes him into the Tuilleries to the way he seems to have a significant case of Attention Deficit Disorder, he was not at all what I expected. Also, this was our first opportunity to see that Miss Gwen’s dragon persona isn’t just an act. She doesn’t just push around the people who seem like easy targets – she smacks Napoleon’s wrist with her reticule, just like she would do Amy if Amy slouched in her chair, and backs him into a corner demanding an apology for his treatment of the Italians and the Dutch. Miss Gwen establishes herself early on as a force to be reckoned with.

I don’t know about you all, but what struck me most about this section of the book when I was reading it was Amy’s blind determination to believe that Georges Marston is the Purple Gentian and that her brother is in his league. I felt almost sorry for her, watching her convince herself that Edouard’s horrific personality was all an ingenious cover for his work in the Gentian’s league. Granted, she does see Marston wearing a black cloak just moments after the Purple Gentian disappears, and there is that implicating fact of the injured footman in the Balcourt ballroom. All in all, it seems like Amy is making the classic mistake of trying to force the pieces of a puzzle into a shape she has predetermined rather than the shape they actually make. And if Richard’s eyes are really such a startling green, then why does she have trouble recognizing them, even though he is masked during their midnight encounter in Edouard’s study?

And then I realized I should probably cut Amy some slack. We only know that Marston can’t possibly be the Purple Gentian because we have the advantage of knowing at the outset that it’s Richard. Delaroche suspected Marston, and even Richard thinks that Marston might be up to something thanks to his suspicious behavior. So it’s not really such an unusual conclusion for Amy to draw – the problem is that, in classic Amy fashion, she decided to chase her impulse at full throttle rather than taking the time to confirm her hunch.

Back in the modern world, we get our first glimpse of Eloise and Colin unsupervised. Eloise’s conviction that she will find the man responsible for the Pink Carnation’s league is reminiscent of Amy’s belief that Marston is her Purple Gentian. One of the things I’ve grown to love about Eloise is just how imperfect and human she is. She is forever getting lost, misjudging distances, and ramming into things. She gets so carried away discussing Napoleonic spies that she spills hot chocolate everywhere. And she just can’t catch a break! She has come so close to discovering the identity of the Pink Carnation only to be told that, when she finds it, she won’t be able to share it.

What are your thoughts on the first half of Pink I?

Happy Friday, everyone.

37 thoughts on “Pink I Week 2 in Review, and a Winner

  1. Once again, I can’t believe I didn’t remember that Augustus appeared this early on in the series, or how he was immediately drawn to Jane. Definitely one of my favorite characters.

    • I know! I got so excited when I saw him for the first time during this re-read. Interesting that Delaroche and Amy both consider him as a candidate for the Purple Gentian, but Lauren doesn’t actually let us know what he’s really up to until several books after this one. (When DO we find out? I know it’s before “Garden Intrigue,” but I can’t remember at what point we know he’s in the League. Good thing I’m going back through!)

      • I can’t remember when we find out, either! We definitely know in Orchid Affair, but I seem to recall a hint/statement was before dropped before that. But I love seeing him in full-on poet/fop mode 🙂

      • Agree! That’s one of the things I marked down when I read about Augustus, because I sure didn’t remember him in earlier books – this is so much fun making these discoveries! It also makes the book new again!

  2. Oooh, impulse give away moment! I have still have some signed copies of the comics Joanne Renaud drew for me of Pink I– specifically the scene where Miss Gwen tells off Bonaparte. Ashley, would you be up for curating a give away? Whenever and however you feel like it…. But I’d completely forgotten until now that I still had those prints in my closet!

    • No worries! Everyone is going at their own speed, I think. I’m just trying to pace myself so it takes me right at a month to read each book. I’m really enjoyed being able to take my time rather than rushing through to find out what happens at the end!

      • It’s a great idea, I think I am going to try to pace myself through the months — that was my original plan… but this month is running away with me (who am I kidding, they all have been). But, now I am kind of loving the idea of curling up with the book, and some wine (and maybe some yummy snacky-foods because, why not) to enjoy the evening 🙂

  3. And if Richard’s eyes are really such a startling green, then why does she have trouble recognizing them, even though he is masked during their midnight encounter in Edouard’s study?

    Right?!?!?! It is a little surprising, given their very different physiques, that scent is what really clues Amy in to the fact that Marston is not the Gentian. However, as a fellow appreciator of citrus (Cedre & Oranger, in particular), I applaud her taste in colognes 🙂

    Also, Geoff gives Richard some pretty solid advice about Amy. It’s interesting that Richard doesn’t take the opportunity to offer up his own opinions about Mary, given that some things later in the book imply that he thinks he has to protect Geoff. I can’t remember what, if any, romantic advice he ever offers Geoff, so I guess I’ll be looking out for that in Pink II and III!

    Last time I was totally absorbed in Amy and Richard’s story and really didn’t pay too much attention to any of the historical content.This time through the book, though, I was a little more deliberate about looking up figures that Lauren name drops that I’ve never heard of before. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu sounds fascinating . . . I definitely want to read more about her sometime.

    • Heather, I did wonder why Richard was keeping his opinion of Mary to himself when Geoff seemed to have no problem giving advice about Amy.

      I think I should poke around to see what books there are about Pauline Leclerc. She sounds like the embodiment of the sentiment “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” I feel like I want to know more about her.

      • I think I should poke around to see what books there are about Pauline Leclerc. She sounds like the embodiment of the sentiment “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

        Based on my quick Wikipedia research (because she was on the list of figures I knew nothing about), I suspect her time with LeClerc in Saint-Domingue was the major inspiration for how Lauren wrote about her in The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, although there do appear to have been other periods of her life in which she wasn’t perfectly well behaved 😉

  4. Amy is a bit of a narcissist……

    I just read the part where the Uppington’s show up at Richard’s house. Too funny. I kept thinking of the peeps diorama of Richard’s rescue that someone did for a contest a few years ago….hilarious!
    I love Augustus…..the scenes with Jane are priceless.
    Don’t get me wrong I love the Pinks, but I’d forgotten how clumsy, clueless and frumpy Eloise was portrayed in Pink 1 and I did not like it at all. It really bothered me. I must of been in denial,,,,is she like that in all the first few books?

  5. Hoping that this time, Internet doesn’t eat my comment… (it seems to have eaten all my previous comments on the previous articles. I think WordPress hates me…. *whining ends*)

    I still haven’t managed to open my book. Blame work…. But I did soooo love that scene with Napoleon!!! 😀
    (and I will definitely try to participate for the signed copy of the comics!! I loved it!!!!)

  6. I had forgotten how determined Amy was to believe that she knew what is going on. And I am having so much fun paying attention to all of the background scenery that is so integral to this and the other books that I didn’t notice before. I wish Lauren would write this story from Jane’s point of view. I think it would be absolutely fascinating what she was noticing and doing while Amy is off jumping to al the wrong conclusions!

  7. I really enjoyed this part of the book and agree, Ashley, that it was hard to believe Amy was so quickly certain Marston was the Gentian. After all, she had had some pretty intense moments with Richard on the boat. But you rightly pointed out the clues that lead her to this conclusion, and Amy was so anxious to find the Gentian and become part of his league that it makes sense she would rush to judgment. Also, her mind is filled with the belief that Richard is betraying his country. I was glad to see when she realizes her mistake about Marston in the next chapter. At first she comments that his voice was different, and reminds herself that he was speaking English to her, but had spoken French in Edouard’s study. That could be another reason she didn’t recognize Richard in the study. If he was speaking French, he probably disguised his voice. But I think it’s interesting that it was “the smell” that convinced her of her error.

    Regarding Napoleon, the scene with Miss Gwen is priceless. He was not portrayed in the best light in a series of books I read about Poland, the first one being Push Not the River. While a much more serious historical fiction series, it still presented a lot of Napoleon’s flaws, making me wonder how he ever accomplished what he did. I was pleased to chuckle about Miss Gwen’s confrontation with him.

    For another glimpse at humor, I thoroughly enjoyed the scene in Edouard’s study, from the moment Richard was looking at the globe and thinking about his childhood destruction of a similar one ( p. 166 – “Richard had been confined to paper maps for years.”) to his discovery of Amy. That whole scene is written with so much humor – I can easily see it being played out on the screen. I think I am enjoying these moments so much more since I am not reading to find out what happens this time.

    Also, love the moment when Richard is discussing his butler with Geoff and it is revealed Stiles is an actor, p. 127. What a witty reference to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar! Speaking of the actors in their employ, Richard says, “They read too many classic; such men are dangerous.” I had to laugh as this brought to mind the quote from Caesar: “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.” Don’t know if I caught that the first time around.

    Lastly, I enjoyed the moment in the kitchen between Colin and Eloise. Colin seemed more human than their first meeting. I’ll have to agree with Mel Burns, though, that Eloise’s clumsiness and frumpiness did wear on me – and this coming from someone who has been guilty of being clumsy, but certainly not to that extent! Sometimes at the descriptions of Eloise, I wonder how she ever got to the point of writing a dissertation!

      • I highly recommend it. I had bought it, put it aside, and finally read it in 2011. Book 2 was out at that time, Against A Crimson Sky, so I read that too. James Conroyd Martin is the author, a high school English teacher, and he had promised to conclude the story with a third book. I finally found out he had in 2013, so I reread the first two and finished the trilogy with The Warsaw Conspiracy – and I almost NEVER reread. These books are amazing – the first one is based on the diary of Countess Anna Maria Bereskowa (hope I remember the spelling), given to Martin by a family descendant who asked him to tell the story. He continues the story in the other two, but I don’t think they were part of the diary. Push Not the River has been described as a panoramic depiction similar to Gone With the Wind. I was so caught up with this family and the plight of Poland, which was carved up, divided among the super powers of the day, and constantly betrayed. I knew very little about Polish history before this. My heart goes out to those brave people of the time and afterwards, because Poland was still tossed around by the Soviet Union in the 20th century. I still feel so much emotion when I think of this book and have given a copy to two people I know of Polish heritage.

  8. I also wondered why she never noticed that the Purple Gentian had the same bright green eyes as Richard. Since that was the feature she noticed about him and it wouldn’t be hidden. But maybe between the poor lighting and her being unable to consider that Richard might be heroic, she wasn’t able to notice. I think it is kind of adorable how Amy wants so badly to see her brother as heroic despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And I also love how clumsy Eloise is portrayed. I’m clumsy and get lost all the time and the more it want to appear sophisticated, the more likely I will trip over my hem. So I think it is fun to find a character who is as awkward as me! I am really enjoying re-reading this. I had once before after I found the series and was caught up to the most recent book but it has been a few years so it was time to revisit how it all started. One last thought, it also would love to have a giveaway of the comics. They look so fun! They would look great in my new apartment I am moving into in Connecticut next week. After apartment hunting 30 miles from Manhatten, I have new appreciation for how “luxurious” Eloise’s London flat and Cambridge studio apartment are!

    • Jennifer, I feel like Eloise some days too! The more important it is to look put together, the more likely it is I’ll have mascara under my eyes.
      Check back next week- I’ll be giving a set of the comics away!

  9. The confrontation with Napoleon was delightful… I think it was around that point when I really realized what sort of book I was reading! I knew it took a very light approach to historical fiction, but I giggled when I realized it was light enough that chaperones would poke Napoleon.

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