An Introduction to Abby and Pink VII

This post was written by Abby.

pink carnation

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?


13 thoughts on “An Introduction to Abby and Pink VII

  1. I like the switch to India. Moving the story to India is a good opportunity to free Penelope of some of the strictures (and censure, when she broke the rules!) she would have faced as a character if her story had remained set in England.

  2. I love how much of a pivot point this book ended up being for the whole series. So much of the series end hinges on what is set up here. (I actually think that is true of Mistletoe as well; maybe that’s why I like them both so much.)

  3. Abby, I love your leather and lace comparison. What chapters are we supposed to have read through so far? What is our reading schedule for this book?

    • Paige, my apologies, I should have said that! Here are all the dates for the recaps and their respective chapters which I will remind everyone about on Friday:

      Friday, March 6: Prologue and Chapters 1-7
      Friday, March 13: Chapters 8-15
      Friday, March 20: Chapters 16-23
      Friday, March 27: Chapters 24-33

      • Too late….there is no way I could take a month to read one of Lauren’s books, even I have read it before

      • Absolutely no apology necessary! I am the one who always seems to ask during each book to make sure I am on track. It is me. Thanks!

  4. Abby, I love Camden, and always spend time in the Owl and Turtle bookshop when we are there. Have sailed a schooner out of there 3 times and a watercolor of the view from Mt Battie is over my fireplace. I enjoy that the story has moved to India, although I am waiting for Penelope to react to the poverty of most of the people. My visit to India left me somewhat ambivalent, although awed by its many beauties. I also like Alex very much. Unlike other Pink heroes, he has had to make his way strictly on his own merits. Penelope has never met anyone who has done so, and she finds this more and more intriguing.

    • Sheila, that’s a great point on Penelope and the wider range of people around her. Do you suppose it partly stems from Penelope being accustomed to not noticing poverty in England? I remember our discussions on Turnip’s not initially realizing the realities of Arabella’s life and Arabella’s life was far closer to his than most of the people in India are to Penelope.

      And on a completely different topic, there is an archivist here in Raleigh who loves Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry and told me all about his dream of climbing Mt. Battie someday when I first met him.

  5. Abby,
    I have enjoyed your introduction and connection to your career. The leather and lace comparison is indeed thought provoking. I especially liked this book because of the move to India and exploration of that culture. Night Jasmine gave just a taste of what was to come. I believe I read this book before Deanna Raybourn’s Dark Road to Darjeeling, which also explored the Indian culture and was a real treat.

    As far as Penelope and Freddy go, the opening chapters show Freddy still living in his world of dissipation looking for card games and women. He seems not at all in tune with the Indian culture even though he had been stationed there before as was told in Night Jasmine. Freddy represents the bad part of colonial occupation, feeling himself above the natives and not interested in trying to understand them or look at them as people. Penelope, however, is asking questions from the very beginning and may be open to getting the most out of this new experience. I like Heather’s comment about India freeing her from English Societal restrictions.

    • Hello, Betty! Thank you for the reminder of Deanna Raybourn’s book- there seems to be a new or renewed interest right now in historical fiction set in India just now. I also read last night about an upcoming, probably on PBS, television series called Indian Summers about India in the 1930s which I now want to keep an eye out for.

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