The Difficult Heroine

Today’s post was written by Sarah.

The time is upon us for a random Pink musing. I admit I had some trouble coming up with what to write about. I considered doing some research on Common Sense societies, or maybe digging into Vauxhall a little and the intriguing time in-between the social seasons that Crimson Rose is set in. Nothing really captured me and inspired me to write. Then, ta-da, riding to the rescue is our dear Bubble Bath Reader herself. She suggested a post Lauren has on her website discussing the Difficult Heroine (you can read her original post here).

Mary is most definitely a difficult, or even anti, heroine. Most readers cannot stand her based on her behaviour in Black Tulip and Emerald Ring. She’s cutting, selfish, vain and conniving in ways that border on Machiavellian. Then, wonder of wonders, she’s the star of her own novel. Really, really, Lauren, what were you thinking? She was thinking that Mary is a fantastic character, that’s what she was thinking! By the end of Crimson Rose, you have either learned to love (or at least respect) Mary or you still can’t stand her. There are very few people who are indifferent to her, just like Vaughn… okay, no rabbit hole of the anti-hero, let’s stick with the women, go away Vaughn!

Another well-known anti-heroine Lauren mentions is Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind. What a story, what a character! Scarlett, in my opinion, is Mary but ramped up about 10 times. I love this early description of her, ”the green eyes in the carefully sweet face were turbulent, willful, lusty with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanour.” She is every word I used to describe Mary and then some, and seriously can we talk for just a second about Vivian Leigh’s beautiful portrayal of her in the movie? No one does a resting b*tch-face like Vivian. Again, the more you dig into the book the more you can appreciate Scarlett’s motives. She will do, and just about does, anything to protect her beloved Tara. She also has some redeeming moments, thank goodness (or Margaret Mitchell). I will always respect her for looking after Melanie, despite the fact that Melanie “stole” Ashley. Not that I ever understood Scarlett’s fascination with Ashley, but that’s a different discussion. She’s a brilliant businesswoman who is not afraid of hard work and, much like Mary “she would make an excellent monarch… but no one had had the consideration to provide her with a kingdom.”

There are other anti-heroines mentioned on Lauren’s post: Amber from Forever Amber (haven’t read it, sorry), Milady de Winter from The Three Musketeers (love her), Madame Bovary (hated her), and our own Penelope from Blood Lily (who I won’t get into out of respect for our re-read, you’ll just have to wait for her). I’d like to add the Marquise de Montval to this list. I always wanted to know more about her. There is one other difficult heroine I’d like to talk about; Elphaba Thropp from Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. If you haven’t read the Oz quartet from Maguire I would recommend them, but be prepared to have your preconceptions rocked. He takes a well-known tale and turns it on its head, then spins it around a ton of times just to confuse everyone. Actually, he does that with all his books, almost ALL of his characters are the antithesis of what we’ve come to expect. Elphaba is no exception. She is born into difficult circumstances and is an outsider from the get-go; she’s GREEN for heaven’s sake! She is in university during a time of great change and political upheaval and she, inadvertently, causes the death of someone she loves dearly. The upshot of all of that is her transformation into the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’. Although I did enjoy the musical, please don’t base everything you know about this character on it, to truly get to know Elphaba (and Galinda and NessaRose) you really need to read the book.

There is, in my opinion, one other anti-heroine in Crimson Rose, but I won’t spoil her for you; although, you may know who I mean.

Who else would you consider to be a difficult heroine, someone you came to like despite her being, shall we say, challenging?

Pink Swag

Do you have a Pink lover on your holiday shopping list?  If so, I may have just the thing to share!

You can buy a Pink themed mug for each of the four books we have read so far from Zazzle.  Here is a link to a listing of all four products:  These mugs were designed by the talented Miss Eliza.

Each mug is $15.95 before tax and shipping, but they have been running some great sales on Zazzle for the holidays.  They will ship to the US and Canada, and a list of other countries can be found on their website.

The Pink IV mug is appropriately Christmas-colored, wouldn’t you agree?

pink IV mug

Tomorrow, Sarah will be back with another Pink IV post.  Happy re-reading!

Pink IV Giveaway

crimson rose

Good morning, and happy Monday!

It’s that time again – time to give away a copy of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose signed by Lauren Willig.

To enter yourself for this giveaway, just leave a comment below by midnight EST on December 12. I will announce the winner on Friday, December 13.

Let’s mix it up a little this time. I always give you a chance to enter your name up to three times by doing each of the following:

  1. Leaving a comment below.
  2. Following the blog.
  3. Posting a link to this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter.

This time around, I will give you a FOURTH way to enter the contest. In your comment below, include the name of your favorite Christmas read – I love a good holiday book, and I’m interested to hear what you recommend.

On Friday, I will use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner. Good luck! And if you’ve got a Pink lover on your holiday shopping list, make sure you stop by the blog tomorrow for a fun gift idea.

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)?

A Rose for Mary Alsworthy

Today’s post was written by Anne, who reviews and gives away books regularly over on The Lit BitchThanks for hanging out with us today, Anne!

rose border

Many of you die hard Pink Carnation fans will undoubtedly notice that flowers play a huge role in the books and are meant to convey some symbolism and foreshadowing in the series and books.

Each character embodies the title flower in some way or another. For me, one of my favorite Pink heroines was Mary Alsworthy from The Seduction of the Crimson Rose.

The rose is not only beautiful and alluring but thorny and at times dangerous to an inexperienced handler. It’s a classic flower long associated with beauty and love. It’s chic, regal, and alluring, while at the same time the thorns remind us of suffering and sacrifice.

What better flower than the red rose to describe Mary Alsworthy? Mary has a reputation as a manipulating temptress… fiery, fierce, unyielding, fearless, ruthless and proud. She is exquisite and alluring – especially to her love interest, Lord Vaughn.

Though she is beautiful, she also makes no apologies for who she is… to her society, she seems like a cold, heartless, and manipulative woman who cares only for herself.

Like the thorns of the rose remind us… Mary has suffered and sacrificed much. Mary’s hopes of eloping with Lord Pinchingdale were ruined when Letty uncovered their plan…now alone with no prospects and her best chance at independence now married to her sister, Mary faces a third season ‘on the shelf’ with Letty and Lord Pinchingdale financing her debutante season.

Like the rose, under all the physical, stunning beauty, there lurks a strength, resolve, and determination in Mary’s character that we haven’t seen in any of the other Pink books up until this point.

The previous three books: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, The Masque of the Black Tulip, and The Deception of the Emerald Ring, all feature heroines that are maybe a little rebellious, spunky, sensible, or dutiful.

Carnations symbolize love as well but their ruffly appearance isn’t quite the chic beauty that roses envelope. While tulips symbolize elegance and grace much like Hen in the second Pink book.

The third book is the only Pink book to not feature a flower, but green emeralds often represent hope and Letty is often seen as the level headed heroine with the most hopeful match among the heroines thus far.

Mary is different… she is a thorny beautiful red rose. She is proud, beautiful, and haughty but she is also hard as nails, which is what ultimately draws Lord Vaughn to her.

Lord Vaughn recognizes the strength and determination in Mary and he can’t help but be attracted to a woman who is entirely unyielding, autocratic, and self-serving. She is a woman who can match him wit for wit, strength for strength, will for will. She is his equal, not his inferior.

What I love most about Willig’s choice of the red rose for this books is that the symbolism actually works for both Mary and Lord Vaughn since Lord Vaughn is also attractive and sexy while at the same time often seen as the villain with a thorny exterior.

The red rose and Mary Alsworthy are synonymous with beauty, strength, sacrifice, and of course…

A big thank you to The Bubblebath Reader for allowing me to post a feature for her Pink for All Seasons tour this year!

Introducing Sarah, a Pink IV Moderator


This post was written by Sarah.

Greetings, fellow Pink fans! My name is Sarah, and I’m one of the ladies who will be contributing to Pink IV: The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. I thought I would start with a little of my Pink background. My introduction to the series was with The Deception of the Emerald Ring. I found the audio version quite by accident at my local library and the cover art and synopsis caught my attention completely. Now, normally, I would NEVER begin a series with book three (it’s a personal OCD thing); but nothing on the packaging indicated that it was part of a series, so I merrily went on my way and listened . . . and I was totally hooked. Afterwards, I began researching Lauren and Pink and discovered the other novels. In hindsight I’m glad I started with Emerald Ring. I adore Geoff and Letty, and I think Miles and Henrietta are absolutely hilarious; I’m terrified that if I’d started at the beginning I may not have been so keen to continue. Forgive me, but I find Amy kind of annoying, sorry, sorry, sorry…

Anywho, Crimson Rose, my favourite (I’m Canadian, deal with the u’s) of the published Pink novels. I’m not entirely sure why, but there is something about Mary and Vaughn that fully capture my attention and imagination. Maybe it’s because I’ve always found a mysterious depth in the characters, the more times I read Crimson Rose the more of Vaughn and Mary I discover.  Not to mention their interplay with the established, and already loved, characters of the first three novels.

Sebastian, Lord Vaughn immediately caught my attention when we first met him in Black Tulip, how can we forget Lady Uppington’s advice to Henrietta?  “Miles is a dear make-believe rake. Lord Vaughn is the real thing.” Not to mention his Chinese dragons, serpent cane, and ever-present quizzing glass, utterly fascinating! Honestly, maybe it’s because he reminds me ever-so-slightly of my husband (who wasn’t a rake as far as I’m aware): dark with streaks of silver, intelligent, and eloquent, if oblique, turns-of-phrase; there’s not nearly as much cynicism in my husband, fortunately.

I also find Mary quite the character study. She comes across as very selfish and vain; however, when put in the context of the society she lives on the fringes of, and wants very much to be a full member of, she comes into a more sympathetic light. No self-respecting person wants to be dependent on their relations, especially if that relation is your younger sister.  As an oldest sister of multiple siblings myself, I totally get that. The elder are supposed to look after the younger, not the other way around.

This story is full of complicated characters, as well as well-beloved ones that we get better acquainted with, and therefore they become more complicated. The Seduction of the Crimson Rose is where I really feel that the Pink series gains major traction, both with characters and how all those characters interact in later novels. I look forward to reading this novel along with all of you and seeing, once again and with different eyes every time, how everything comes out for Vaughn and Mary. Enjoy the journey!

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose

crimson rose

Today is December 1, and so it is time to begin The Seduction of the Crimson Rose! We will kick off our discussion on Wednesday with a guest post by Anne. For the rest of the month, our moderators will be Teia and Sarah – I’m excited to have them on the blog, and I know you will enjoy what they have in store for you!

What better place to begin our month of reading than with Lauren’s Pink IV recap?

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose

Who: Mary Alsworthy and Lord Vaughn
Where: England
When: Autumn, 1803
What: Lord Vaughn recruits socialite Mary Alsworthy for an unlikely task – infiltrating the League of the Black Tulip.
Historical Cameos: None. Lord Vaughn isn’t letting anyone steal his thunder.

Let’s catch up with Eloise as she begins her exploration of the archive collection at Vaughn House and happily stumbles upon the appointment book of Sebastian, Lord Vaughn.