Pink IV Week 1 in Review

Rose background with dropsToday’s post was written by Sarah.

Wow, week one is at an end already. Where did the week/chapters go? Okay, first chapters of Crimson Rose! I always forget how much happens in the beginning of this novel. In the format that Beth used last month (which I really loved), I’m going to try and recap what’s happened in the first 8 chapters.

Lord Vaughn: Our mysterious and complex earl has been enlisted by the Carnation to recruit Mary to their cause. Jane, somewhat, convinced him to use his title as bait and despite informing her of the contrary, and giving himself severe talkings to, Vaughn is quite intrigued by Mary. My favourite from him in the beginning is “’Yet’, my dear Miss Wooliston, is a treacherous jade. She’ll lead you astray if you let her.”

Personal note: it’s mind-blowing to me that, not only does Vaughn know who she is, he continues to work for (he would say with) Jane. For king and country and all that, yawn…

Mary: Although voted “most likely to marry an Earl” three seasons running, she finds herself unmarried still! Sorry, a little bit of Austen crept in there. She’s desperate not to be at the mercy of her younger sister’s (and her thwarted husband’s) charity and accepts Vaughn’s mysterious deal… with stipulations of her own of course. She, as usual, sees something of an opportunity in the first portion of her mission, but it doesn’t quite go as she thought. Vaughn is ever-present it seems.

Personal note: Mary reminds me a little of Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice, very pragmatic and shrewd. It comes down to the fact that there are only so many options for women in their situation and if they can bring a man “up to scratch” they will.

Jane: Currently in England, presumably after Ireland and before returning to France, finds herself in need of someone to get the Black Tulip’s attention and Mary decidedly fits the bill. She also possesses the amazing ability to keep Vaughn engaged enough to convince him to entice Mary.

Aunt Imogen: Can we all just spare a moment of silence to the brilliance of Lauren in creating Lady Cranbourne and the ode Robbie Burns wrote, hailed as “the unpronounceable in praise of the incomprehensible”? I love it!!

We’ve also had our introductions to Lady Hester Standish and Mr. St. George, both of whom promise to be very interesting characters in the future. Especially if we get to see/hear more of Aunt Imogen, Lady Cranbourne and Lady Hester… seriously, who else wants to read that book?

In more modern times, Eloise is buried in the archives of the Vaughn collection and discovering details no one else knows. I have a special appreciation for her randomly meeting up with Colin on the streets (because she, inevitably, gets lost) and her description of him looking like a “Plantagenet monarch” and she “looked like a mugwump.” I laughed so hard my husband told me I wasn’t allowed to read the book in bed anymore… that hasn’t happened, I’m just attempting to control my laughter, not really working. Eloise and Colin are setting off for their first date, anything can happen at this stage.

Introduction to Nigel Dempster: “… you’re also looking for the Pink Carnation…”  I, along with Eloise, don’t like him already.

Questions to ponder: If you’d been in Mary’s place what would you have done, accept your sister’s charity or made “a deal with the devil”?
Coming back to “situational morality,” what do you think of the Common Sense Society, and which side would you take (removing the guillotine from the picture)?

8 thoughts on “Pink IV Week 1 in Review

  1. I’m all for an Aunt Imogen/Lady Hester prequel!

    To answer one of your questions, if I were in Mary’s place, I would have taken the deal with the devil. I think a little bit of Mary’s motivation, along with Vaughn’s, is that they are bored with playing society’s games . They both know how to play and they both do it well, But in neither case does it bring satisfaction or happiness. Playing the spy game would have been a distraction, a break from the ennui, and in Mary’s case, a means to an end.

    I also found this part of the conversation between Jane and Vaughn interesting:
    “My dear Lord Vaughn, I never matchmake.” Jane smiled to herself as though at a private memory. ” Well, very rarely”
    Is she referring to Amy and Richard? Vaughn and Mary? How about some of that later couples? I wouldn’t put it past Jane. There’s a lot going on in that head!

    • I totally agree with you, Karen. What else are Vaughn and Mary supposed to do to relieve the tediousness of the endless parties, entertainments, and the marriage market that’s the point of it all, that seem to be all the ton engage in? The fact that they turned their attention to a good cause is a mark in both their favours, in my opinion.
      As to Jane and matchmaking, I always assumed it was Richard and Amy she referred to. After all, Amy was the one to climb into Delaroche’s rooms, not Jane. However, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if she nudged certain other characters later on, Augustus is the one that immediately comes to mind. She has a great ability for seeing possibilities and what actions can be taken to direct certain courses.

      • I think she played matchmaker after the fact with Letty & Geoff, when I read that passage, they were who I thought of.

  2. Great recap! And there was so much that happens in these first 8 chapters! I think i am enjoying this book even more during this rereading, if that could be possible. I have forgotten so m as my of the smaller details and plot nuances that I am almost embarrassed, but it is lovely to experience it again along with the familiar that I know and love.

    I would definitely take the deal with the devil, even though I don’t really resemble Mary much in any way,. There’s that whole pride thing, and it would sound a bit exciting. Plus, trying to put myself in that position, it would be pretty depressing and terrifying to have no real options.

    I just don’t know where I would have stood on the Common Sense Society. Being right there in the times and depending on where and what my life and place in society was, I am not sure. I hate how much of a non-answer that is!

    So far, I really love both the modern and the historical storylines equally in this book. So much goodness. So many intriguing characters and questions and possible developing situations. I think I figured out one of the reasons I have always liked Colin. He is like a blonde Hugh Grant. I know I read it before, but I must have forgotten it. Rereading that, along with the Plantagenet line and everything else, how could i not like him?

    But, I like Vaughn, too, and they aren’t exactly much the same! In kind of my defense, because I do like all of Lauren’s leading men, I think she just writes them really well. Of course, I have my favorites, but I actually do like them all.

    • I know what you mean about the Common Sense societies, it’s so hard to know when our circumstances are so far removed from it. That’s why I thought I’d ask 🙂
      I’m with you with the leading gents, they are all great in their own ways. But Vaughn is by far my favourite, shockingly I think Geoff and Turnip tie for second, how weird is that!

  3. Great comments, ladies, and so many that I agree with. I, too, had forgotten so much. Lauren is amazing in the many details she includes to help the reader experience the time period. She has researched this era so completely and throws everything together in an entertaining and creative way – from the poetic quotes that spew from the characters’ mouths to tidbits of information interwoven throughout such as references to Methodist missionaries, Gainsborough, Wollstonecraft, Burns, and Thomas Paine. Wow! Who could not learn so much? As Sarah mentioned, the quote “the unpronounceable in praise of the incomprehensible” rises straight to the top. Perhaps as a reread, I am able to see so much more – the ‘nine coaches waiting’ reference, and the comparison of Noah’s Ark to Almack’s marriage mart is a stroke of genious.

    I love the banter between Vaughn and Mary – first class conversation which I think I missed before, although I did grow to like both characters through this book. One of my favorite quotes is Vaughn to Mary, “There are few who condescend so well to condescension.” So much more of Mary’s character and personalty are revealed as in the statement, “With Vaughn she could growl and snap as much as she liked.” Mary can at last be herself and forget the facade she has ceated. And, yes, I would take the deal with the devil like Mary did.

    There is so much more to look forward to – can’t wait. Thanks, Sarah!

    • I think their interplay is the main reason Vaughn and Mary are my favourites. I love the witty banter back and forth. The portion from their first real encounter that always comes to the top of the list is “Mary had to admit to a certain grudging admiration for his technique. It had been beautifully done. He had waited until she was just far enough away that she would have had to stop, turn, and screech like a fishwife if she wanted to get a last word in. And what could one possibly reply to ‘I can’? The only response that came readily to mind was, ‘Well, I can’t.’ Sophisticated stuff, that.” I love it!

      • Yes, one could go on and on with the witty repartee. I’m finding it hard to pace mysellf with this one!

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