This post was written by Abby.
Hello and welcome back to The Betrayal of the Blood Lily! This post is to continue the introductions, both my own history with the Pink Carnation series in general and Blood Lily in particular, and any further introductions to yourselves that anyone wishes to make.
I read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation in the summer of 2005 and I remember the first time I saw that now very familiar cover. I started a PhD in Early American history in 2004 and my best friend from high school and I were standing in the Owl and Turtle bookshop in Camden, Maine. She saw it first, read the back and handed it me saying that I needed to read it because it was about someone else working on a PhD in history. By the time Blood Lily came out in January of 2010, I had completed my PhD and had a one year teaching job in Salt Lake City, which was very far away from my home in Maine. There was a tea shop near my apartment and I would go there on Saturdays and drink tea and read Blood Lily, and I rationed out the chapters to make it last as long as possible. Now I am five years into a tenure track job at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and currently feeling very Eloise-like because I am on sabbatical this semester and doing archival research at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh.
There have been many, many Pink books since then and yet Blood Lily remains my favorite. This is partly for the simple reason that Alex is my favorite Pink Carnation hero, but the real reason is best voiced by an observation made by a friend and former student. He had taken my United States History to 1877 class and had moved on to a United States History since 1877 class and was trying to explain the differences between colonial history and the nineteenth century history he had moved onto. Finally he said that if nineteenth century American history was like leather, colonial American history was like lace, with its unexpected stories and movements and decisions not yet set in stone. As both Lauren and Eloise acknowledge, readers of historical fiction often think of all British contact with India as having the rigid lines and strictures of the mid-nineteenth century. Blood Lily, however, introduced me to an India in which those relations were as lacy as they are in my own research and I have been fascinated by that India ever since.
And now I want to turn the discussion over to all of you, though as you think about the opening of this book, remember that our initial discussions are intended to cover only the chapters read so far (Ashley and I are planning a discussion later in the month about the faces and turns introduced in Blood Lily, so if you have read all the way through The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, save those thoughts for later in the month!). What do you think of the Indian setting? And what affect do you think it will have on our longer term Pink Carnation characters, Penelope Deveraux and Frederick Staines?